The third—and last—section of Hofburg is the Kaiserappartements, or the Imperial Apartments, once inhabited by Sisi and Franz Josef. Like the Imperial Apartments at Schloß Schönbrunn, the apartments here also vividly reflect the personalities of those who lived here.
The tour of the Imperial Apartments includes both public and private rooms. Among the public rooms, the more prominent ones are:
1. The waiting room for subjects seeking an audience with the Emperor. Anybody from the Austro-Hungarian empire could meet the Emperor, the only stipulation being that they must be either formally dressed, or if they did not possess formal clothes, should wear national dress—a costume often adopted by peasants. The room, though not exceptional in itself, contains life size figures dressed in the national costumes of people from across the empire.
2. The conference room, richly decorated in shades of greenish-blue. Although Franz Josef had somewhat simple tastes himself, this room, being a public one, is sumptuous.
3. The Bergl rooms, immensely striking rooms named for the artist who painted them. The walls and ceilings of the rooms are covered with a continuous mural depicting exotic flora and fauna. It’s a sight to be seen.
The private rooms include the Emperor’s own bedroom and study, both low on luxury and decorated mainly with photographs and paintings of his wife and children. Franz Josef comes across as a home-loving and simple man, very different from his eccentric and flamboyant wife.
Sisi’s rooms (all gold and white stucco), which follow, are much more luxurious and almost act as an extension of the Sisi Museum. These chambers, which Sisi crowded with flower arrangements, contain original furniture, furnishings, fittings and displays, although her will, which lies on her desk, is a facsimile. You’ll see her bedroom and her bathroom, where she had installed Austria’s first bathtub. Incidentally, it used to take Sisi a full day to wash her ankle-length hair, and it used to be shampooed with a mixture of egg yolks and cognac. A hairdresser would spend 2-3 hours daily in dressing Sisi’s hair, and Sisi would spend the time in learning Greek from her tutor (other than German and Greek, Sisi was also fluent in English, French and Hungarian).
As part of Sisi’s rooms, you’ll also get to see the wooden gymnastics equipment Sisi used to keep in shape (and boy, was she in shape: at 5’9", she had a waist of 20"!) Unlike her husband, Sisi does not appear to have been particularly attached to either her spouse or her children: portraits and other reminders of these people are conspicuous by their absence. Instead, Sisi’s rooms are more full of pictures of her own siblings and other family from Bavaria.
All in all, the Hofburg palace complex is worth a visit. It offers a fairly in-depth view of the Imperial household, and is definitely worth every cent you spend on it.