Palais Augarten & Augarten Park:
Home to Porcelain & the Vienna Boys′ Choir
Of the many Baroque Palais and palaces of Vienna, the Palais Augarten in the second district stands out as particularly big and impressive. Up to the 18th century, the Leopoldstadt district was frequently flooded and thus, essentially an empty flood plain forest. It was used as a hunting ground for the local nobility, most notably the Emperor and his court. In 1614, Emperor Matthias I built a fancy little hunting chateaux at the area of today′s Palais Augarten. In 1649, this chateaux was supplemented with a Dutch-style formal garden.
Under the rule of Emperor Leopold I, the Augarten area became increasingly civilised and was somewhat "merged" with Vienna; a Jewish ghetto was dissolved (and later rebuilt) here and the Carmelite monks settled there. It was Leopold I who gave his name to the district ("Lepoldstadt" means "Leopold′s City") and in 1677, he added an extensive Baroque garden to the hunting chateaux of his predecessor Matthias.
This garden was already aligned with today′s Praterhauptallee and the Leopoldsberg - thus, part of a garden ensemble that covered much of today′s 20th and 2nd district. During the Second Siege of Vienna in 1683, the Turkish armies used the Leopoldstadt as an important base, and the Baroque gardens were completely destroyed.
Reconstruction of Palais Augarten after the Siege of Vienna
Chateux and gardens were restored after the Turks were defeated; nevertheless, the Emperor lost his interest in the area and in 1688, the chateaux at the Augarten was sold to a businessman called Zacharias Leeb; the park itself remained the property of the Emperor. Leeb invested a fortune in the construction of the core of the current Palais Augarten, which was built until 1692 and called "Palais Leeb". The architect in charge was probably Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. In the following decades, the Palais was extended and re-modelled a couple of times and also changed owners more than once.
In 1780, Emperor Joseph II bought the Palais Augarten. He was rather fond of the parks and had 400 linden trees planted, 200 benches placed and hundreds of larks released (good for them). A beekeeping school was opened. In 1775, Joseph II opened the Augarten to the general public. His garden architect Isidore Canevale designed a portal with an inscription: "For all people, designated leisure are - from their appreciator" ("Allen Menschen gewidmeter Erlustigungsort von Ihrem Schätzer"). According to an anecdote, noblemen complained that since the park was open to the public, there was no place in Vienna where they could ramble among people of their kind. Supposedly, the Emperor responded: "If I wanted to ramble among my kind, I would have to walk up and down the Imperial Tomb all day".
Despite of noble resistance, the Palais Augarten became a popular venue for balls, receptions and concerts. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and later Ludwig van Beethoven and Johann Strauss senior conducted concerts in the Augarten. In 1867, the Palais Augarten became the official palace of the "Obersthofmeister" (sort of a housekeeper for the Imperial court) Prince Johann Hohenlohe-Schillingfürst. His wife was good with running balls and receptions, and continued this tradition at the Palais. The biggest one took place in 1873, when the noble visitors of the Weltausstellung exhibition in the nearby Messe came over to party.
Continue with "Palais Augarten - Part II"
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