Palais Clam-Gallas, Vienna:
Sommerpalais Dietrichstein going French

One of the best-preserved garden palais of Vienna is the Palais Clam-Gallas, often known as „Französisches Kulturinstitut". The latter institute is maintained by the French embassy (which in turn occupies a noteworthy building on Schwarzenbergplatz) and uses only parts of the palais; other parts are used by the private French school "Lyzeum" (or "Lycee francais de Vienne"). Palais Clam-Gallas was refurbished in 2006/2007 and now looks nice and shiny.

It is not open to the general public, but its outside and parks can be seen from Währingerstraße. The neo-Classical palais was built between 1834 and 1835 according to plans by the architect Heinrich Koch. The landlord was Prince Franz Joseph of Dietrichstein; therefore, the name "Sommerpalais Dietrichstein" is still used sometimes. The property had been used by the Dietrichsteins as a garden for centuries; it was acquired by Ferdinand Josef Prince of Dietrichstein in 1690.

In 1850, Franz Joseph of Dietrichstein′s granddaughter Clothilde got married to Count Eduard Clam-Gallas. She inherited the palais and added a new name to it. It remained in the family for another century, even though it was used for various purposes. Following WWII, for example, it was used as a supply point for American troops. In 1952, Palais Clam-Gallas was sold to the Republic of France. After that, the French Cultural Institute moved in and stayed until today. In 1980, the culture and science departments of the French embassy moved in, too.

Lycee Francais: Neighbour of Palais Clam-Gallas

In 1946, the Lycee Francais had been founded and stayed in a provisory building. With the acquisition of Palais Clam-Gallas, France got the space for uniting the cultural institute and the new school. Until 1954, a new school building was erected in the garden of Palais Clam-Gallas. Right next to the school you can see a somewhat cubic 1970ies building; this is the so-called Fliegerkino, a traditional cinema. It occupies the site of the former stables of Sommerpalais Dietrichstein and got its current appearance in 1971, when it became property of the Lycee Francais. The school is considered to be among the best in Austria - based on rankings by an economics magazine, though.

Palais Clam-Gallas is considered to be the best-preserved neo-Classical palais of Vienna; other noteworthy palais of this period are Palais Rasumofsky in the third district (Landstraße) and Palais Grassalkovics in the second district (Leopoldstadt). There are no proper Dietrichsteins left today, only some side-lines of the family; they can be tracked back to the year 1002 and were one of the most distinguished families of the Habsburg Empire, mostly located in Carinthia. In Vienna, note also Palais Dietrichstein on Minoritenplatz; and the Palais Dietrichstein in Laxenburg south of Vienna.

Attractions nearby Palais Clam-Gallas include on one side the Freudmuseum in Berggasse; the Josephinum; the Spanish Hospital; and on the other side the Strudelhofstiege, the Liechtenstein Museum and Servitenkirche. If you make it that far, you have made it to the Servitenviertel, which is where I have lived.

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Further Reading

German Wikipedia on Palais Clam-Gallas, Vienna

Palais Clam-Gallas on Planet Vienna, including pictures