The complex, with its two palaces, the upper and lower Belvedere, and their large gardens, is one of the most illustrious Baroque architectural complexes in the world. In the 18th century, the Austrian general Prince Eugene of Savoy commissioned the construction of a summer residence to the famous baroque architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt. After the death of Prince Eugene, the Empress Maria Theresa acquired the entire complex and turned the Upper Belvedere into an exhibition site for the imperial collections, thus making it one of the first public museums in the world.
Schloss Belvedere History
The Belvedere Castle (German: Schloss Belvedere), is located in the district of Landstraße south of the historic center of Vienna, Austria.
It is one of the masterpieces of Austrian baroque architecture and one of the most beautiful princely residences in Europe. It was built by Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt for Prince Eugene of Savoy and consists of two opposite palaces, the Upper Belvedere (Oberes Belvedere) and the Lower Belvedere (Unteres Belvedere), separated by a large perspective of French-style gardens sloping down the hill and overlooking the city. Famous are the views of Canaletto, which portray the place. The interior of both buildings houses the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, one of the main art museums in Vienna.
On November 30, 1697, Prince Eugene of Savoy (Soissons), a condottiere in the pay of the imperial army, entrusted the construction of his own residential palace in the center of Vienna to the famous architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. In 1702 the construction site was resumed and enlarged by another great Austrian architect: Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt. Hildebrandt.
The construction of the palace by the Prince of Savoy also had another great political implication as his adversary, Marshal Heinrich Franz von Mansfeld, Prince of Fondi, had purchased land near his home a few months before to build a mansion with a garden and between the two soldiers there was a strong desire to compete for the most beautiful palace.
The construction therefore began in 1712 on a position with a splendid view over the city of Vienna, immortalized among others by Canaletto in those same years.
The construction of the Upper Belvedere began in 1717 after the end of the construction of the Lower Belvedere and the construction proceeded in forced stages to such an extent that, on October 2, 1719, Prince Eugene was already able to receive the Turkish ambassador Ibrahim Pasha in the rooms of this building.
The imposing and magnificent building was completed in 1723 although from the beginning some important structural problems began to appear. Forcing the installation of additional pillars, giving the room its current appearance.
When Prince Eugene died in his city palace in Vienna on April 21, 1736, he had never married, had no heirs and had left no will. The Emperor Charles VI, therefore, appointed a commission he himself presided over to decree the prince's niece, Vittoria, as a legitimate heir. She was the eldest daughter of the elder brother of Eugenio, Luigi Tommaso of Savoy-Soissons and the last survivor of the Savoia-Soissons family.
Princess Victoria moved to the Belvedere on 6 July 1736 after collecting her uncle's immense heritage. In 1738 Vittoria married Prince Joseph Frederick of Saxe-Hildburghausen, divorcing in 1744 and, eight years later, the princess decided to return to the court of Turin. It was only on that occasion that the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, daughter of Charles VI, expressed her interest in purchasing the complex and the contract was signed.
French gardens are an integral part of the Belvedere Palace complex in Vienna. The baroque originals have been kept up to the present day with the numerous jeux d'eau designed by Dominique Girard, who had already worked at Versailles as a pupil of the famous André Le Nôtre.
In 1776 Maria Teresa and her son Giuseppe II decided to transfer from the Hofburg, where it had been preserved until that time, to the Belvedere the Gemäldegalerie (Gallery of imperial art) with the intention of making this collection accessible to all. The gallery officially opened its doors five years later, thus forming one of the first public museums in the world
While the Upper Belvedere was transformed into an art collection, the Lower Belvedere was a historical place for the many personalities it welcomed from the late 18th century: Napoleon, Maria Teresa Carlotta (the only surviving daughter of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI) stayed here. of France) and the Archduke Ferdinand (governor of Lombardy from 1796, here forced to reside after the Treaty of Campoformio of 1797).
From 1811 the Emperor Francis II undertook to transform this area into a museum to welcome the Egyptian and Roman antiquities received from the Ambras collection near Innsbruck. This collection also changed its location in 1888 when it was transported to the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
After the relocation of the imperial art collections, both the Belvedere palaces ceased to be public museums. In 1896 the Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria established that the Upper Belvedere would serve as the official residence of the heir to the throne, his nephew Francesco Ferdinando.
The Lower Belvedere, from 1903 instead welcomed the state-owned modern art gallery, distinguishing itself as the first gallery exclusively dedicated to the new currents in Austria, in particular the current of the Viennese Secession. Here there were works by Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Giovanni Segantini.
The assassination of Francesco Ferdinando and his wife in 1914, started a new era for the Belvedere.
Shortly after the end of the war, in November 1918, the art historian Franz Haberditzl favored the request of the Minister of Culture to maintain the modern art gallery in these buildings. The nationalization of the Belvedere complex also led to a new layout of the internal collections in the 1920s.
The palace suffered considerable damage during the Second World War and some parts of its halls were destroyed by bombing. After the completion of the restoration work, the modern art gallery reopened February 4, 1953.