Schönbrunn Palace (Vienna): This palace of 1,441 rooms was the summer residence of the powerful Hapsburg family. The great baroque architect J. B. Fischer von Erlach modeled his plans on Versailles, though he ultimately surpassed the French palace in size. Even so, Maria Theresia spoke of the palace as "cozy," where she could retreat with her many children and paint watercolors or work on her embroidery. The Hapsburg dynasty came to an end here when Karl I signed his Act of Abdication on November 11, 1918.
Hofburg (Vienna): The winter palace of the Hapsburgs, Hofburg was the seat of an imperial throne that once governed the mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire. The sprawling palace reads like an architectural timeline of the Hapsburg family, dating from 1279 with subsequent additions continuing until 1918. Today the Hofburg houses everything from the offices of the president of Austria to the Spanish Riding School with its Lipizzaner stallions -- even the Vienna Boys' Choir.
Österreichische Galarie Belvedere (Belvedere Palace; Vienna): On a slope above Vienna, this palace was designed by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, the last major architect of the baroque in Austria. Belvedere served as a summer home for Prince Eugene of Savoy, the country's greatest military hero. The palace was a gift from the imperial throne in recognition of the prince's military achievements, although he was (at the time) richer than the Hapsburgs. Not exactly pleased with his "gift," the hero made stunning baroque additions and improvements. As a collector and patron of the arts, he filled the palace with objets d'art.
Schloss Esterházy (Eisenstadt): This castle in Eisenstadt, capital of Burgenland, was the seat of the Esterházy princes, a great and powerful Hungarian family who helped the Hapsburgs gain control of Hungary. The seat of their power was built around an inner courtyard and designed by Carlone, the Italian architect. Work started on the castle in 1663, but the design was subsequently altered over the years and later received the baroque treatment. The family invited Haydn here to work on his music, and in the Haydnsaal, the great composer conducted an orchestra for the family's entertainment.
Residenz (Salzburg): The seat of the Salzburg prince-bishops, this opulent palace dates from 1120. Over the years, newer palaces were added to form an ecclesiastical complex. On the palace's second floor is a 15-room art gallery filled with the works of 16th- to 18th-century European masters. You can also walk through more than a dozen richly decorated staterooms. The Residenz fountain, which dates from the 1660s, is one of the largest and most impressive baroque fountains north of the Alps.
Hofburg (Innsbruck): This imperial palace, built in the 14th to 16th centuries, was the seat of Emperor Maximilian I. In the 18th century, Empress Maria Theresia made major structural changes, giving it a rococo appearance; the Giant's Hall is an architectural marvel of 18th-century Austrian architecture. In the palace's main hall hangs a portrait of Maria's famous youngest daughter, Marie Antoinette -- with her head.
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