The Kaiservilla (Imperial Villa) is a summer residence of the imperial family located in Bad Ischl. It became known in the nineteenth century as the favorite residence of Francis Joseph of Austria and his wife Sissi.
The building originally belonged to the Viennese notary Josef August Eltz. In 1850 it was bought by doctor Eduard Mastalier who sold it shortly afterwards to Archduchess Sofia of Austria, mother of Francesco Giuseppe, who in turn donated it to her son as a country residence on the occasion of her marriage in 1853.
In the following years, the villa was converted into a neoclassical style by the Italian architect Antonio Legrenzi and enlarged by extending the side wings and creating an entrance of honor with a courtyard. The structure was decorated with timpani and classical columns. Around the villa was also created an English-style park with buildings designed by Franz Rauch such as the Casa del Te or the Castello di Marmo, buildings of corollary for leisure and hunting since the area of the villa was inserted in a a green context that greatly favored hunting, one of Francesco Giuseppe's favorites.
The complex was not completed until 1860 as the works were seriously forbidden in the summer period when the imperial family was staying in the villa. In 1884 a white marble fountain by Viktor Tilgner was added to the courtyard of honor.
On July 28, 1914, in this residence, in his study, Francesco Giuseppe signed the fatal declaration of war against Serbia which led to the outbreak of the First World War. After the death of Francesco Giuseppe, the residence passed to his daughter Maria Valeria who married the archduke Francesco Salvatore of Habsburg-Tuscany and remained here until the end of the war in 1918. Currently the villa is owned by the nephew of Maria Valeria , the Archduke Mark of Habsburg-Lorraine, who decided to open it to the public.
The imperial villa was used to shoot scenes from the movie "The Princess Sissi", the first film of the famous trilogy.