- Mika Vepsalainen
Sisi Museum - the Private Life and Home of the Most Famous Female in the Habsburg History
Updated: Apr 19
Join us to see the private quarters of Sisi, the world famous empress of the Habsburg dynasty in Vienna!
Every member of the imperial family had their own quarters at the Imperial Hofburg Palace of the mighty rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They were located in the different wings of the imperial winter residence. Now, we invite you to join us for a visit to the imperial apartments of the penultimate Austrian imperial couple, Franz Joseph I and Elisabeth in the Reich Chancellery Wing at the Hofburg Castle. The museum is housed in the Stephan apartments named after Archduke Stephan Viktor.
The private rooms have been restored according to historical models and furnished as faithfully to the original as possible - and this is why we can have a fairly authentic look into the private lives of the couple.
There are nineteen rooms available including audience rooms and studies, living rooms and bedrooms, not to mention Sisi’s gym and toilet room with the first water closet in Vienna and Sisi’s bathtub where she took warm olive oil baths!
The some 400 m2 apartment shows us original objects and imitations from the real life of the couple. Each of Sisi's six rooms illuminates how she rose from a carefree young Bavarian Princess to the Diana of her time and to her tragic untimely death in Geneva, Switzerland in 1898. Some three hundred objects including hair clips, umbrellas, fans, a medicine chest - a 63-piece first-aid kit (sic!) which contained cocaine, then valued for its medical properties, highlight an emotional look into the private life of one of the most known royal of all times.
Sisi's cloths on show include her bachelorette party dress, the Hungarian coronation dress and the six-piece mourning onyx jewellery that she wore after the death of her son, Crown Prince Rudolf. Her death mask is there together with the black coat she was covered after the assassination on Lake Geneva in front of Hotel Beau Rivage. (As a historical curiosity, Sisi’s suite at the hotel is still available as Empress Sissi’s Suite, perhaps an idea for a hotel during your next visit to your Swiss bank account!). If you are interested, the sharpened needle file that the Italian anarchist Luigi Lucheni killed her with is on show at the Viennese Museum of Medicine Josephinum - see our review!
In addition to Sisi’s private objects, the museum also shows some of her famous portraits that you must have seen in books and films, such as Romy Schneider in the 1956-1957 film just to name one. The 2009 renovation expanded the museum significantly so that we now get a brilliant look into the sparkling court in the late Habsburg empire.
Before you get to the first floor apartment, you can go through the court’s silver collection that gives you an idea of the lavish luxury of the imperial dining and wining with valuable services, beautiful porcelain and centrepieces as long as 30 meters. You will also see the legendary imperial serviette!
Sisi was fond of travelling by train and her travel cutlery is on show, too. In 1873 the Austrian railway companies had a set of coaches made as a gift to the empress. The sleeping car has been preserved and is on display at the Vienna Technisches Museum, where visitors can view the interior through the windows - see our review! You might also wish to visit Sisi's summer cottage which we have also reviewed - check the Schönbrunn Palace.
Unfortunately, Sisi’s flat is not really a visitor friendly one. There is no deposit of coats, bags or umbrellas as the exit is at a different location to the entrance. In addition, the royal porcelain exhibition has been laid out in such a weird way that you probably need to ask for advice before you find the stairs to the Sisi bit!
The museum can be visited in a wheelchair. There is a lift at the entrance and exit. The barrier-free toilets can be found on the ground floor and on the first floor but they are only only accessible with the museum personnel’s assistance.
There are two museum shops, one at the beginning and the other at the end of the tour - maybe you get a couple of gift ideas for the baby princesses back at home The shop on the ground floor can also be accessed without purchasing a ticket through a separate entrance in the inner courtyard of the palace.
There is no museum café although right in Vienna’s heart, you will not lack choice afterwards!
Michaelerplatz, 1010 Wien