Belvedere is a beautiful baroque building complex consisting of two palaces, orangery, stable and the magnificent garden located in Vienna’s Third District. The complex is not only known for its striking baroque architecture but as the home of some of the most significant Austrian works of art, like Klimt’s “The Kiss”.
Belvedere was built as the summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. He was one of the most successful military commanders in modern European history, known as the liberator of Europe from Ottoman Turks. Prince Eugene was also a great patron of the art, who mostly collected 16th and 17th-century Dutch, Italian and Flemish art. After his death, the complex, together with his art collection, was acquired by the Austrian royal family.
In the 1710s, when it was built, the Lower Belvedere was still outside the gates of the city. The one storey building was regarded as the pleasure palace for the prince and his guests, but later it became his permanent place of residence. Only a few rooms of the palace were planned and built as the living quarters. Interior consists mostly of representative, lavish rooms and the most beautiful ones are the Groteskensaal (Hall of the Grotesque), the Marble Gallery and the Golden Room. Nowadays, Lower Belvedere is a venue where special exhibitions are held.
Upper Belvedere is more prominent and newer of the two palaces. The beautiful white building, with even more beautiful sparkling white stucco walls, was finished in the 1720s and served solely for the presentation purposes. Prince has never lived in the Upper Belvedere. Today, it hosts the permanent exhibition, which portraits development of Austrian art since the Middle Ages. It is the best collection of Austrian art, consisting of the key works of Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka. Four hundred and twenty works are at the display in the Palace, but the heart of the exhibition represents the collection of 24 of the Gustav Klimt’s paintings, with “The Kiss” as the crown jewel. This almost two meters high painting, which shows Klimt and his friend Emilie Flöge as a couple in love, is the most famous Austrian piece of art.
The highlight of the complex is the garden, which is located between the two Palaces of Belvedere. The garden is a masterpiece of baroque landscape architecture. It includes 12 fountains and numerous sculptures. As the Upper Belvedere is higher than the lower one, the theme of the sculptures represents the ascent from the underworld to the Olympus. This difference in level is highlighted by two luxuriously decorated cascade fountains and the huge side perron. The garden is open for everyone to visit, at no charge.
The complex of Belvedere, the place where imposing architecture meets the best Austrian art, is under UNESCO protection as the world heritage. This baroque architectural jewel receives over one million visitors every year. Some of them are there to visit the home of “The Kiss” while others just want to enjoy the oasis of art and peace in the city centre.
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