Originally a fortified castle, construction on the Hofburg Imperial Palace began around 1275 during the reign of King Ottokar Przemysl. A few decades later, the Habsburgs came to power. The palace structure expanded in 1533 and beyond as numerous generations of Habsburgs continued to make their own additions.
After defeating the Ottomans (1683) the Habsburgs gave the dull, fortress-like exterior of the old castle a baroque makeover. The Hofburg Imperial Palace is now 240,000m² and has18 wings, 19 courtyards and over 2,000 rooms. All the way until 1918, the Imperial Palace remained the residence and seat of government of the Habsburg emperors.
There are many lovely and impressive statues to see, such as the bronze statue of Archduke Karl with flag in hand riding proudly on his horse, or that of Kaiser Franz I, a monument with several statues and Franz in the center. He is wearing his classical clothing, with a scepter in his left hand and a raised right hand as if greeting someone. There are many other important sculptures in nearby areas, such as Michaelerplatz.
There are many excellent activities at Hofburg Palace you will not want to miss. One is visiting the Spanish Riding School, where you can watch the horses during their morning exercises. You can witness the riders leading the horses in strengthening activities while enjoying classical Viennese music.
Another great activity is visiting the Imperial Treasury, the most important treasury in the world, and home to two imperial crowns (the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire and the Austrian imperial crown of Emperor Rudolf II), the Burgundian treasure, and the treasure of the Order of the Golden Fleece, which includes one of the world’s largest emeralds.
Another fantastic idea is to visit the Sisi Museum, which contains hundreds of objects commemorating the life and times of Empress Elisabeth (Sisi), one of the most important figures in Viennese culture and history. And there are many other things to see and do as well!
An unforgettable experience at Hofburg is to attend one of the local balls. Some of the balls include the Rudolfina Redoute, the Ball of the Legal Professionals, the Hofburg Ball of Viennese Business, the New Year’s Eve Ball, and the Fête Impériale, most of which are quite popular with the locals.