Schloss Eggenberg is the most famous and important Baroque castle in Styria, Austria. The castle is located on the western outskirts of Graz. Today it is part of the Regional Museum of Styria, the Landesmuseum Joanneum.
In Eggenberg you can visit the English garden, the castle halls, the art gallery, the numismatic collection and the lapidary.
Schloss Eggenberg History
The commissioner of the building was Prince Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg who in 1625 the Emperor raised from Baron to the dignity of Prince, without however endowing him with the right to vote in the Imperial Diet, as he did not yet possess a territory directly subject to the Empire .
The majestic castle, erected by Giovanni Pietro de Pomis according to the Spanish Escorial model and the Thiene palace, was an expression of the powerful position and at the same time symbolic expression of the humanist thought precisely by the prince.
He ordered the construction of the castle as an architectural reproduction of the universe according to the philosophical ideas on cosmic harmony disseminated by the scholars of the time such as Kepler or Giordano Bruno.
The construction was the perfect utopia of an ideal place where everything should have found its rightful place. The passage of time, the celestial mechanics, the earthly hierarchy, the strength of faith, the universal history, as well as the alchemical and astrological ideas concerning the mysterious structure of the universe find symbolic expression in the castle and in the interior furnishings.
The building was designed and started in 1625 by De Pomis, who continued its construction until his death in 1631. For the next two years the construction site will be directed by the Flemish Laurenz van de Syppei. Later, the external envelope was completed by Pietro Valnegro and Antonio Pozzo in 1635-36. From 1641 to 1646 it continued with the preparation of the interiors and between 1666 and 1685 the sumptuous Baroque decoration of the rooms was carried out.
Count Johann Leopold Herberstein, husband of the last Princess Eggenberger, undertook a complete restructuring of the castle between 1754 and 1762 second, the then rococo style. In particular, it intervened on the furniture and the rooms of the north wing, covered with wood paneling. The most massive intervention was due to the architect Joseph Hueber, a pupil of von Hildebrandt, who demolished the theater to build the castle chapel.
The noble floor, made up of 24 sumptuous rooms with rich original furnishings, has a cycle made up of more than 600 paintings enclosed by sophisticated stucco frames, the largest in the whole country. It is a baroque pot-pourri of universal history in which scenes from classical mythology, biblical scenes, memorable events of Western civilization and oriental fairy tales appear simultaneously.
The decor of the rooms, a precious collection of wall decorations, stoves and furniture, dates back to a later period, the rococo. After the extinction of the Eggenberg princes in 1717, the furniture was in fact commissioned by the new lords of the castle, the Herberstein family.
Of particular note are, in addition to the three rooms in oriental style with Chinese paintings on silk and Japanese paintings on paper, the five rooms with wall coverings by the painter Johann Anton Baptist Raunacher. These representations show the society of the time that is dedicated to its favorite amusements like hunting, gambling, life in the country, theater.
The room of the planets, containing a cycle of early Baroque paintings, is the work of the Salzburg painter Hans Adam Weissenkircher, who executed it between 1678 and 1685.
The paintings, of symbolic value, connect the 7 planets known at the time with the 12 zodiac signs that dominate human destiny and time and with the philosophical ideas concerning the development of the human soul that is purified by the lead of Saturn becoming the gold of the Sun and with the members of the Eggenberg family who, represented together with the symbols of their coat of arms, reign over the sky and the earth in the universe they created.
The French-style Baroque garden, which surrounded the castle in the 18th century with rich ornamental flower beds, labyrinths and high hedges, today preserves only some decorative statues and a graceful pavilion.
Currently the castle is located in the middle of a large English garden that was planted after 1820 and that with its rich tree heritage is one of the most precious natural monuments in the country.
A long-term project for the restoration of the park aims at completing what has been lost over the centuries.