Palais Dietrichstein, Vienna:
Baroque Palais at Minoritenkirche
The square of the Minoritenkirche in central Vienna is well-known for its high density of Baroque palaces. Ever since the late Middle Ages, high-ranking nobility tried to be as close to the Habsburg Emperors as possible, and with the Baroque bloom of Vienna following the Second Turkish Siege in 1683, the Minoritenplatz became Vienna′s fanciest address. Essentially every house here bears the name and coat of arms of one of the most distinguished families of the Empire - in the case of the one this article is dedicated to, the Dietrichsteins. To my knowledge, the house of Dietrichstein has become extinct apart from side-lines of the family, but Vienna is still full of references to it.
The current Palais Dietrichstein started as a Medieval court, but I don′t know to whom it belonged. The current structure of the building was created around 1755, when two older buildings were combined and remodelled under the guidance of Franz Anton Hillebrand. In the course of this modernisation, Palais Dietrichstein gained its current late-Baroque fašade. The owner of the building, who had also ordered the changes to be made to it, was Count Ulfeld.
The count held a high position at the Imperial Court. In 1799, much of today′s Palais Dietrichstein was sold to the Polish Chancellery (Polnische Hofkanzlei), with a small part of the building being owned by Maria Beatrix of Modena-Este, the wife of Archduke Ferdinand. The latter one was the fourth son of Empress Maria Theresia (Austria′s mother of the nation) and died in Palais Dietrichstein in 1806. In 1807, significant refurbishments took place in the Palais.
19th Century: Palais Dietrichstein gets its Current Name
Half a century later, in 1853, Prince Franz Josef of Dietrichstein, who gave his family′s name to the building, purchased the palace. In 1955, the Dietrichsteins sold the Palais to the Republic of Austria. In 1988, the building was modernised and since then used by the government - first by the vice-chancellor, later by changing ministries. The building is still in use for this purpose and therefore, it is not open to the general public.
However, tourists should have a look at the elaborate fašade with its unusually high number of windows. The "hidden treasures" of Palais Dietrichstein are the staircase from 1755, the ball room with a Rococo fašade from 1795 and the representative beletage with neo-classicist interiors.
Attractions nearby are numerous. I name only some of the most immediate ones, within a 3-minutes walk: Obviously, the Minoritenkirche in the centre of the square; the Ballhaus, the Palais Niederösterreich, Palais Liechtenstein, Burgtheater and Volksgarten; as well as the Leopoldinertrakt of the Hofburg Palace. The Michaelerplatz and Kohlmarkt with the Loos Haus and the Michaelerkirche are nearby; and so is Palais Ferstel in the other direction, leading to Palais Kinsky and the Freyung. Plenty of classy Viennese cafes are also within easy reach, even though the ones of the first district will be of the rather touristy kind. Just don′t say I didn′t warn you.
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