Join us for a visit to the Imperial Carriage Museum where you can see carriages and vehicles used by the imperial household of the Holy Roman Empire, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary located in the grounds of Sisi’s summer cottage, the Schönbrunn Palace.
Originally, the Imperial Court Stables were located in what is today the Museumsquartier downtown Vienna. Towards the end of the Austro-Hungarian Monarch, there were some 640 vehicles used for the daily transport of several hundred people, goods and stuff required by the Court with a staff of over 500 people.
Not only the emperor and his family were using the court carriages, but also the dignitaries and servants, right down to the court service and the noble boys. This is why there were a whole bunch of different vehicles ranging from ostentatious baroque carriages to gala, leisure and everyday cars of the 19th and early 20th centuries to simple transport vehicles and modern automobiles.
With the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the imperial fleet lost its previous function. After 1918, some of the cars continued to be used by the officials of the newly founded Republic of Austria while some vehicles had to be given to the other successor states, and others were sold to private individuals to fill the empty state coffers.
Some historically significant parts of the fleet were worth preserving, and they were handed over to the Kunsthistorisches Museum (see our review!). Initially, 90 vehicles were saved, with a few more added in later years. As there were no sufficiently large halls available in the main Habsburg palace, Hofburg, the carriages were moved to the former Winter Riding School at the Schönbrunn Palace.
In November 2001, the last surviving Court automobile, the Kaiserwagen built in 1914 returned to the collection on permanent loan from its former producer. The former emperor Karl I had taken it with him to Switzerland when he left republican Austrian in March 1919 - with some family jewellery, see our review!.
Today, the Carriage Museum houses over 5,000 objects, most of which date from the Baroque period to the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Around 60 vehicles are on display in the Carriage Museum.
The main entrance has a three centimetre step but otherwise the museum’s ground floor is fully accessible. Unfortunately, the first floor gallery is only accessible via stairs, so the little that there is will remain out of scope for those in wheelchair or persons with a pram.
The loo is outside the building, turn left exiting from the main door. It is not suited for persons in a wheelchair. You may need to ask access to the accessible loo at the main ticket desk at the main palace within a short distance.
There is a small museum shop with trivialities on sale.
Next to the loo outside the museum, there is a cafe with horrendous prices. Save your euros for a drink on your way back to the centre.