Stadtpalais Liechtenstein, Vienna
City Palace of the Liechtensteins - NOT the Museum
Vienna has two significant palaces that belong to the Royal family of Liechtenstein: The Palais Liechtenstein in the district of Alsergrund (near where I lived) and the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein (or "Liechtenstein city palace"). This division between a fancy leisure palace with extensive gardens and a more professional one near the Hofburg Palace was not unusual in the grand days of the Habsburg Empire; it is unusual, however, that both Liechtenstein palaces are still in good shape and owned by the original family.
You can find the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein in a very prominent location, just between the Burgtheater and the Minoritenplatz. The latter one is a square framed by palaces of the Empire′s most distinguished families. Ironically, neighbours of the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein are the national headquarter of the Social Democrats and the headquarter of the parliamentary delegation of the Green party. With Liechtenstein being the last absolutist monarchy in Europe, the Liechtenstein family is not considered to be particularly fond of left-wing political parties.
Back to the Stadtpalais itself: It is the "Majoratshaus" of the Liechtensteins in Vienna and therefore, plays a bigger role for them than the Gartenpalais with the museum. The Stadtpalais is considered to be Vienna′s oldest (ie. first) high-Baroque building. The first landlord, however, was not a Liechtenstein: In 1691, Count Dominik of Kaunitz hired the Italian artist Domenico Martinelli, architect Enrico Zuccalli and mason Ambrosius Ferrethi as well as Ferrethi′s companions Giovanni Battista Passerini and Martin Trumler to build a palace.
Construction of Stadtpalais Liechtenstein, Vienna
The construction work started, but was not finished when the property was sold to Hans Adam, Prince of Liechtenstein, in 1694. The Liechtenstein hired an additional Italian, namely Gabriele di Gabrieli, and had the original plans extended. The palace was finished in 1711. Several generations of Liechtenstein princes later, the palace was extensively renovated between 1843 and 1846, which was supposedly done at an enormous cost. The average international tourists fails to notice the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein; visitors with a keen interest in architecture should at least note the entrance gate: The portal was the first of the monumental Baroque ones in Vienna. It was designed by Dominico Martinelli.
The side-gate at Minoritenplatz leads to a later staircase; some art historians link these two features with Lukas von Hildebrandt. The interiors of the Baroque Stadtpalais Liechtenstein are not preserved in the original state; they were changed repeatedly in the 19th century - partly to accommodate the presentation of the Liechtenstein′s enormous art collection. Most of this collection is now stored at Vaduz, but it also "feeds" the Liechtenstein Museum in the Gartenpalais.
The Stadtpalais Liechtenstein shaped the outlay and "ingredients" of Baroque palaces in Vienna. The ballroom was one of the biggest and most splendid ones in Vienna and in the early 19th century, a fair share of Vienna′s aristocratic life took place there. Around this time, the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein gained some unusual features: Rooms that could be lifted up and down like settings on the stage of a theatre, moveable walls and doors - the Prince of Liechtenstein liked to entertain his guests in a variable environment.
Stadtpalais Liechenstein Today & Attractions Nearby
This required maintenance staff and technicians just like a theatre; which earned the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein the nickname "Künstlerversorgungshaus" ("artists′ provision house"). Today, the Stadtpalais Liechtenstein is shared between embassies, companies and the Royal Family of Liechtenstein.
Attractions nearby are numerous, so I limit this selection on those in a 2-minute walking distance: At the Minoritenplatz, you find the Palais Niederösterreich, the Minoritenkirche, the Ballhaus and Palais Dietrichstein. Nearby is Palais Ferstel. The Burgtheater, MOYA and Volksgarten with access to the Hofburg Palace are on the other side. The Rathaus City Hall faces the Burgtheater; an the Dreimäderlhaus and Pasqualatihaus are behind MOYA.
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