Palais Porcia, Vienna:
Renaissance meets Baroque
Palais Porcia is a supposedly Baroque palais in the Herrengasse, a very exclusive area in Vienna′s first district (Innere Stadt). The piece of land where Palais Porcia was built had been used as building land since Roman times and throughout the Middle Ages. Just after the First Siege of Vienna through the Ottoman armies in 1527, the Royal Treasurer Johann Löbl purchased the property; he sold it on to Count Gabriel Salamanca-Ortenburg, himself treasurer general of Emperor Ferdinand I, in 1538.
The count ordered to connect the two existing, Medieval buildings and added a Renaissance façade. This gave a palatial appearance to the newly created palais, which art historians consider unusual - since most building activities of this time focused on fortifications due to the threat of another Turkish invasion. The re-modelling was completed by 1546. In 1592, today′s Palais Porcia was sold to the families of Hofkirchen and Lohenstein, who started to re-model the building again.
The first wave of modernisation was completed in 1602, but in the following decades, Palais Porcia gained decorative elements of early Baroque. In 1660, the palais was sold to the high-ranking nobleman Prince Johann Karl of Porcia - who gave the current name to the palais. For the main palace that the Porcias are still remembered for, please see my article on Spittal an der Drau in Carinthia.
Moving to Rococo: Palais Porcia in the 18th century
Count of Porcia sold the Palais to the family of Tinti in 1723, in 1750 it was sold again - this time to Empress Maria Theresia. The Empress used the palais for courts, for which purpose the building got an additional floor and new rooms. Another building phase came in 1883, when the interiors were completely remodelled. After this move, Palais Porcia served as the headquarter of the Verwaltungsgerichtshof, the central administrative court.
In 1925, the library of the court moved in and over the decades since then, other government organisations followed. This includes the IT department and library of the chancellery, administrative divisions of the chancellery and other government institutions. From 1991 to 1997, Palais Porcia was extensively renovated and still looks all nice and shiny. Palais Porcia is not open to the general public, but you can probably have a look at the two courtyards. They still bear the characteristics of the Renaissance, with typical arcades and a plain façade, especially in the first court. The ground floor of Palais Porcia is sometimes used for exhibitions.
Attractions nearby are numerous, so let me focus on only the most important ones in a 3-minute walking distance: Palais Niederösterreich, Palais Ferstel with Café Central, Palais Kinsky and Palais Harrach on the Freyung, the BA-CA-Kunstforum, the Hochhaus Herrengasse and the Minoritenkirche with Palais Dietrichstein, Palais Liechtenstein and the Ballhaus, Palais Starhemberg and other representative Baroque palais in its surroundings.
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