Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen (Winterpalais):
Ministry of Finance, Vienna

The Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen ("Prince Eugene City Palace") is a high-Baroque palace in the city centre of Vienna. It was extensively renovated in 2008 and now it serves once again as the shiny headquarter of the Austrian Ministry of Finance - which it has since 1848. The Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen was built as a winter residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy, who spent the summers in his even fancier palace of Schloss Belvedere (or the enormous palace of Schlosshof in Lower Austria). The Stadtpalais Prince Eugene is therefore also called "Winterpalais Prinz Eugen".

The origins of the Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen can be tracked back to 1694, when there are records for the acquisition of land. Today′s palace was built on the site of several small houses and an early-Baroque theatre. The actual construction of the Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen started in 1697 under the guidance of the star-architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, supported by the construction supervisor Andrea Simone Carove. The material used for the palace was very expensive stone from the quarry of Kaisersteinbruch. Most elements on the fašade that visitors can see from outside the palace are made of this stone.

Note for example the massive gate, flanked by one relief on each side: Right of the gate you can see Aeneas carrying his father away from the burning Troy; left of the gate, Hercules fights the giant Antaeus. Both sculptures are made of Kaisersteinbruch stone, the artist in charge was Lorenzo Matielli.

Special Features & Extensions of Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen

The palace is well-known for its staircase, a key element to a respectable Baroque palais. The staircase directly connected the gate with the beletage and the ballroom and made visitors step upwards from the dark and dirt of the street to the light and splendour of the ballroom. This journey is very obvious in the Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen; the staircase was designed by Fischer von Erlach, but created by Giovanni Giuliani - using stone not from Kaisersteinbruch, but from Eggenburg.

In 1702, Fischer von Erlach′s nemesis Lukas von Hildebrandt took over; this makes the Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen one of several palaces on which both "grand masters" of Viennese Baroque worked. See for example also Schloss Hetzendorf or Palais Schwarzenberg. Under the supervision of Lukas von Hildebrandt, a neighbouring building was acquired. Originally, the palace had seven axes - now it was extended to twelve. The interiors were completed, most notably the so-called Goldkabinett ("Golden Cabinet") with a painting by Francesco Solimena at its centre.

Around 1710, a Hauskapelle (Chapel) was built and a gallery; the Stadtpalais also gained a new representative hall around this time, the so-called "Blue Salon" with frescos by Marcantonio Chiarini. In 1719, another neighbouring house was built and the Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen was extended once again - this time to 17 axes. The Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen continued to be a construction site constantly developed.

Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen after the Prince′s Death

When Prince Eugene died in 1736, he left no direct heir (surprise, he was gay). His enormous wealth went straight to his niece, Anna Victoria of Savoy who sold the Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen. It was bought by the Habsburgs (who else could have afforded palaces like Schlosshof, the Belvedere or the Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen - all entering the "real estate market" at once?). The Emperor had the palace renovated by Nikolaus Pacassi in 1752. After this renovation, the Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen was used by various government bodies until it became home to the ministry of finance in 1848.

Attractins nearby include the Franziskanerkirche, the Ursulinenkirche, the Haus der Musik, the Figarohaus, Palais Coburg, Annakirche, Ronacher (a theatre), Malteserkirche, Staatsoper, Stadtpark, Neuer Markt, Kapuzinerkirche and Kaisergruft.

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Further Reading

German Wikipedia on the Stadtpalais des Prinzen Eugen

Detailed article on Stadtpalais Prinz Eugen (Winterpalais Eugen) in German