Hermesvilla at Lainzer Tiergarten, Vienna:
Historicist Villa in Nature Reserve - Part II
The central entrance hall is entered from the front yard of the Hermesvilla. The interiors are dominated by dark wood, giving a somewhat depressing impression. The furniture is opulent: Exotic woods, gold and brass, marble, silk and lots of ornamental things. 19th century historicist copies mix and mingle with actual antiques. One interesting site is the exercise room where the very fit Empress Sisi celebrated her anorexia with an overdose of gymnastics every day. Behind the exercise room, one cabinet was arranged in the way of a Soviet office from the period of the occupation.
One thing hasn′t changed since the Imperial couple has spent time at the Hermesvilla: The main attraction of the building is still the bedroom of the Empress. Equipped with an opulent Baroque bed from the time of yet another legendary (but less attractive) Empress, Maria Theresia. The paintings on the walls depict scenes from William Shakespeare′s "Midsummer night′s Dream" and looks suspiciously like somebody′s LSD-fantasies. Strangely enough, the paintings were made by such famous artists as Hans Makart or - believe it or not - Gustav Klimt.
The following room is the Empress′s writing room with a painting on the ceiling that is called "The Spring". Done by Franz Matsch and Gustav Klimt, but utterly distasteful nonetheless. One room the Soviets left alone: Most of the furniture is authentic and dates back to Imperial days, it was chosen by Sisi herself. The next room open to visitors is the so-called "Kirchensaal" or "Church Hall", sort of a house chapel.
A Walk Through the Hermesvilla & its Surroundings
Here the Imperial family and their staff would attend mass on Sundays. The next room is another one with authentic and preserved furniture: The office of Emperor Franz Joseph I. The following rooms are the last ones that are open to the general public: The Emperor′s bedroom and bathroom. Here you can picture how the Empire went down the drain once Franz Joseph had passed away.
The gardens that surround the Hermesvilla are well-kept and to me, they are more pleasant than the inside of the building. In a way, they remind me a lot of Sandringham in Norfolk - like the Austrian equivalent of the British estate, an international, imperial lack of taste combined with a lot of money and power. The temporary exhibitions often compensate for this: They are usually of very high quality and concerned with fine arts, not with historicist interior designs as one might think.
There are no attractions nearby that I could think of, but do check out the Lainzer Tiergarten: It covers about half of the district Hietzing and is one pleasant little corner of Vienna. It is 2,500 hectares large and gives you the taste of countryside without actually leaving the city properly. For more imperial sightseeing, check out the Hofburg, the palace of Schönbrunn or - I hate saying it - the tacky Sisi-Museum at the Hofburg palace.
Return to "Hermesvilla & Lainzer Tiergarten - Part I"
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