Belvedere

Whereas Schonbrunn was definitely a royal palace, the other great Palace, known as the Belvedere, was the product of Austria’s greatest general, Prince Eugene of Savoy.

 

Overall view of the Upper Belvedere. (Two photoes stitched together and thus slightly distorted).

Prince Eugene of Savoy was French, born in Paris in 1663: his aristocratic mother Olympia was reputed to be one of Louis XIV’s many mistresses.  He wanted a military career but he was rejected by Louis XIV on the grounds of his poor physique so he offered his services to the Austrians, and became their greatest general.

His main successes were in fighting the Ottomans, but  in particular he teamed up with the Duke of Marlborough, and with him won the great battles of Blenheim, Oudenarde and Malplaquet, battles which were more important to the Austrians than to the English:  had the Battle of Blenheim been lost,  Vienna might well have fallen to the French.

But whereas Marlborough was rewarded by building the great Palace of Blenheim, just outside Oxford,  Prince Eugene bought land just outside Vienna and built the great twin palaces known as the Belvedere

 

There are in fact two palaces, an Upper and a Lower Palace, separated by a magnificent garden. Here is a view from the Upper Belvedere looking down to the Lower Belvedere with the city of Vienna behind it.

 

 

 

 

 

Today both palaces are art galleries —indeed the upper Belvedere became one of the world’s first public art galleries when Maria Antoinette in addition to building the Schonbrunn also largely rescued the Belvedere and turned the upper palace into an art gallery. Today it is once again an art gallery, best known or the works of the Secession, and in particular the works of Klimt especially the rather strange painting known as The Kiss.

 

Here we see the Lower Belvedere, today also an art gallery devoted to temporary exhibitions.We saw an interesting exhibition of the work of Hans Makart, whose huge canvases that very popular with the Late 19th century Viennese population though today his reputation is still controversial.

 

 

 

Here a panoramic view of the Lowere Belvedere, again stitched together from two photos.

 

The garden is full of playful statues.  Here two cherubs surround a third who is projecting water from his mouth

 

 

 

 

And here is a naked young lady in the middle of a fountain. Though her top half is exposed, she has some strange flower arrangements concealing her central features.

 

 

 

 

 

To the Ringstrasse – the Parliament, the Town Hall, and the Opera

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