Updated: Aug 26
Join us for a visit to the treasury chambers of the Habsburgs to see some unique jewellery pieces from Sisi and the rest of them!
The Austrian Imperial Treasury, Kaiserliche Schatzkammer at the Hofburg Palace is a great museum with heaps of gold and precious stones from the Habsburg dynasty. It contains a huge collection of secular and ecclesiastical treasures covering over a thousand years of European history. The entrance is in the oldest part of the Hofburg, in the the Schweizerhof (Swiss Courtyard) that was rebuilt in the sixteenth century in the Renaissance style. Walk in to the courtyard, pass the Ambassadors’ Entrance and there you are. The museum is spread over 21 rooms sporting Habsburgs’ rare treasures compiled over the centuries. These include the Imperial Crown, Orb, and Sceptre of Austria, and the Imperial Regalia of the Emperors and Kings of the Holy Roman Empire and also jewels and precious stones - including the world’s largest emeralds - that due to their unique size could not be fitted into the imperial crowns. They symbolise the political power and geographical reach of their owners.
In addtion to the secular collection, there is also an ecclesiastical collection. The secular one exhibits imperial artefacts from the House of Habsburg, The ecclesiastical collection contains a whole bunch of religious treasures.
After the Austrian Anschluss in 1938, the Nazis took the treasures to Nuremberg but the US forces returned them to Vienna at the end of the war.
Sisi fans can view pieces of her jewellery and also the key to her coffin in the Capuchin Crypt should that be interesting to somebody…
Perhaps the most interesting bit of the museum is Display Case XIII with the (copied) crown jewels that have been lost since 1918. After the provisional national assembly proclaimed the republic on 30 October 1918, ex-Emperor Charles I took the goodies to Switzerland on 1 November - see our review of the Kaiserliche Wagenburg, the imperial car museum where they exhibit the car that Charles took to take the famly jewellery with him! He managed to grasp 14 objects from Empress Zita’s private jewellery and 39 objects from the Habsburg-Lorraine family jewels from Display Cases XII and XIII, including the Florentine Diamond that had previously belonged to Maria Theresa, Marie Antoinette and Empress Elisabeth. The legality of the removal is still being discussed, at least somewhat, although the state abandoned the demand for restitution as early as in 1921.
There is no museum café but the Hofburg is in the heart of the city and you’ll find loads of places in the neighbourhood to go afterwards to.
The museum is nicely accessible, with no steps to enter and a lift will take you to the galleries. You will find an accessible bathroom for the handicapped just behind the museum shop and a cloakroom where the museum visit starts.
The museum shop proposes some copied jewellery and regular museum stuff with an imperial flair. Maybe worth having a look.
Kaiserliche Schatzkammer Wien