Palais Rasumofsky, Vienna:
Neo-Classical Palais, sadly neglected
The Palais Rasumofsky in the third district of Vienna is a neo-Classical Palais in the style of a "Gartenpalais" - for details please read my article on the "Palais of Vienna". The Palais Rasumofsky is located in walking distance to the Inner City of Vienna and just around the corner of the Kunsthaus Wien, one of the city′s main attractions - yet the Palais itself is virtually unknown even to people who have lived in Vienna for many years. I first noticed it when I strolled in the area in the search for Palais Wittgenstein, which turned out to be right next to it.
Palais Rasumofsky was designed in 1806 by the Belgian architect Louis Montoyer for the Russian diplomat Count (later Prince) Andrej Kirillowitsch Rasumowski. The count had been somewhat expelled from the Russian court due to an unfortunate affair with Wilhelmina Luisa von Hessen-Darmstadt, the later wife of Emperor Paul I of Russia. The building in exile was equipped with one of Vienna's first extensive English-style landscape garden. Rasumowski was an art collector and his Palais was soon well-known for his private museum. In 1815, the "garden wing" of Palais Rasumofsky burnt down, and many paintings were destroyed. The wing was later re-built in a somewhat downgraded version by the architect Joseph Meissl.
After Prince Rasumowski retired from his diplomatic service, he chose to permanently live at his Viennese Palais. He spent several years there until he died in 1836. Two years later, his widow sold Palais Rasumofsky to Prince Alois II of Liechtenstein. The Liechtensteins let it to the "Geologische Reichsanstalt", the Imperial Geological Institute, in 1849. It was sold to the public (ie the Austrian-Hungarian Empire) in 1873. Three years later, the extensive park was sliced up and individual pieces of land were sold and used for the construction of apartment houses - back in the days, that was pretty common, just as described in the "Palais of Vienna" article. Today, only those parts of the park that stretched directly between the main building and the side-wings are preserved.
New life for Palais Rasumofsky: Geology in Austria
In 1877, Palais Rasumofsky was renovated and adapted to the needs of the Geological Institute. After WWI, the "Geologische Reichsanstalt" was re-named and became the "Geologische Bundesanstalt". During WWII, it was severely damaged by bombs and it took until 1951 that Palais Rasumofsky was re-stored to its previous glory. Renovations had to follow in 1966. In 2003, the Geologische Bundesanstalt moved to nearby Neulinggasse and Palais Rasumofsky was sold to a group of private investors.
The Palais is one of the few examples of a neo-Classical building of this era in Vienna. It comprises of one main building and the garden wing. It is one of the most important buildings designed by Louis Montoyer, who also worked on the Rittersaal Hall in the Hofburg Palace. Palais Rasumofsky contains several ballrooms and representative halls - all in the tradition of the Baroque garden palais. The former stables and administrative buildings of Palais Rasumofsky are set apart form the actual building. Today, only a small part of them is preserved; these few ones were supplemented with an additional floor between 1848 and 1854 and since then, used as residential buildings. They are situated in the Rasumofskygasse, one of the most attractive lanes in the neighbourhood. The Austrian writer Robert Musil lived here between 1921 and 1938.
Attractions nearby include the Palais Wittgenstein, which houses the Bulgarian Cultural Institute; the Kunsthaus Wien and Hundertwasserhaus; the Rochusmarkt Market and Rochuskirche Church; and the FLAK tower in the Arenberg Park. Palais Rasumofsky is not open to the general public; as of 2008, I just like the building for being somewhat shabby and therefore, charming.
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