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The Museum of Military History of Vienna says Wars Belong to a Museum - theirs!

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

One of the oldest museums in Vienna, the Museum of Military History says that “Kriege gehören ins Museum”, wars belong to a museum. Join us for a very interesting visit to theirs!

This is from where WWI started - the car in which the Archduke Ferdinand was killed in Sarajevo.
This is from where WWI started

The Museum belongs to the Austrian Armed Forces and documents the Austrian military history with heaps of weapons, armours, tanks, aeroplanes, uniforms, flags, paintings, metals, badges of honour, photos, documents and much more on show in a beautiful building in central Vienna.

The building is the centrepiece of the former Arsenal, a huge military complex. It consisted of over seventy buildings dating back to the 1848/49 revolution and was the largest building project of the young Emperor Franz Joseph I which makes it also the oldest museum building in Austria.

Franz Joseph needed a hall of fame for his most glorious warlords whose 56 full-figure Carrara marble statues in the entrance hall testify their “worth of eternal emulation“ as he wrote in his Imperial resolution of 28 February 1863. Curiously, they are all exactly 186 cm tall, a question to Dr Freud, perhaps? In any case, the emperor paid half of the costs himself and the other half came from the descendants of the field commanders.

Do not forget to look up: the gold-ornamented ceilings all over the museum feature frescos with allegorical depictions of power and unity, fame and honour, and cleverness and courage, features that some of the old chaps might have had in the imperial Austria!

The most valuable collections were evacuated when the WWII bombing on Vienna began in autumn 1943. As a result, they did not get damaged neither on 10 September nor on 11 December 1944 when the bombing damaged the building severely. Unfortunately instead, during the occupation, many of the evacuated collection items were either requisitioned by the Allies or fell victim to theft and looting by the Red Army soldiers.

In September 1998 the Museum got a new Republik und Diktatur Hall to exhibit the period from 1918 until 1945. In another hall, the museum illustrates the history of the Habsburg monarchy from the late 16th century until 1945. A lot of space is also dedicated to the Ottoman Wars including the the Siege of Vienna in 1683. At the end of the Great Turkish War in 1718, the Habsburg monarchy achieved its greatest territorial expansion.

Do not forget to have a look at the Gräf & Stift automobile in which Archduke Ferdinand was murdered in 28 June 1914 which resulted in World War I getting started. You can still see the traces of the assassination in the car!

Move on to the military history of the Austrian Republic and dictatorship when the country was was annexed to the Nazi Germany with part of the population engaged in the national resistance against the nazis, or the Battle of Vienna in April 1945.

Outside, behind the museum, you will se a fascinating Tank Garden sporting an interesting selection of heavy tanks and related stuff. If you are a bit lazy, you can admire some of these from the terrace of the café, too!

We are very pleased to confirm that the Museum is fully accessible with a large lift and well placed ramps everywhere in the building. The loo in the entrance hall is well equipped for disabled visitors and kids, too!

There is an interesting museum shop behind the ticket counter with a lot of very special literature on sale for the connoisseurs and some for the odd coffee table book collector, too.

Do not forget to have a nice Mélange Coffee or a lunch after your tour at the museum. Their charming café offers a nice selection of drinks and things to taste. In the summer, you can have it on their terrace.

Heeresgeschichtliches Museum

Museum of Military History Arsenal, Objekt 1, Ghegastrasse, 1030 Vienna


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