In many movies, history books and pictures, you will see the members of imperial families with a great amount of jewelry. Also, there is so much literature about the most valuable treasure - the Holy Grail. Have you ever asked yourself where all the treasure that the monarchs collected during the centuries of their rule is placed? Or where the Holy Grail is hidden? In this article, I will try to answer these questions and introduce you to the Imperial Treasury, the place where Vienna holds its most valuable treasures.
Since the 16th century in Hofburg, a former principal imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers, you can find the Imperial Treasury, which contains a treasure collection of immeasurable value. The treasury is located in the oldest part of the palace that dates back to the 13th century, and it is hidden behind the two doors. The first door leads to the Swiss Court, where the treasury is located, it is called the Swiss Gate. The gate got its name after a Swiss Guard who was responsible for the protection of Emperor Francis I Stephen, who was not allowed to use the royal and arch-ducal guard of his wife Maria Theresa. The second door is a thick steel safe door, like the ones that lead directly to the treasury.
Vienna’s Imperial Treasury is the most important treasury in the world. In 21 rooms, it holds among others the treasures of the House of Habsburg collected over the course of centuries. There are two collections on display - the secular collection and the ecclesiastical collection.
In the secular collection, you can find two imperial crowns, the Burgundian treasure, the treasure of the Order of the Golden Fleece, and various valuable gems, including one of the world's largest emeralds. I will introduce you some of the most important exhibits:
The Imperial Regalia is a treasure which includes insignia and jewels of the Holy Roman Empire. It includes the Imperial Crown (worn by the Holy Roman Emperor from the 11th century to the dissolution of the Empire in 1806), the Imperial Sword, Sceptre and Orb (that were given to the Emperor during the coronation). The octagonal crown is unique by its shape, and it is highly symbolic because it is decorated with numerous biblical references. Probably the most interesting piece of Regalia is the Holy Lance or the Holy Spear, legendarily known as the lance that pierced Jesus as he hung on the cross.
The Austrian Crown Jewels include the sceptres, crowns, orbs, swords, rings, crosses, holy relics, and the royal robes worn during the coronation of the emperors. The items date back to the 10th century and have witnessed 1000 years of European history.
The treasury of the most exclusive knight orders, the Order of the Golden Fleece, is located in the Imperial Treasury as well. It has been referred to as the most prestigious and exclusive order of chivalry in the world, with only 51 members currently. Members are the king of Belgium, the king of Spain, the prince of Liechtenstein, the emperor of Japan, the king of Sweden, etc.
Besides all above-mentioned, the Imperial Treasury in Vienna holds many more interesting items such as the whale tooth, which was believed to be the horn of a unicorn, and a famous ancient Agate Bowl, which was for centuries thought to be the legendary Holy Grail. If you don’t believe that the Imperial Treasury is the last hiding place of the Holy Grail, why not visiting it and checking by yourself?
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