The two baroque palaces, organgery (a nursery for orange trees), stables, and pristine park/garden that make up the Belvedere are the home of the Belvedere Museum, which contains many lovely works of art from medieval to contemporary. I spent quite a while in the Upper Belvedere, which houses the historical works. It contains the world’s largest collection of Klimt paintings. Seeing “The Kiss” in person was breathtaking. I’ve always thought it was a pretty painting, but it turns out that it’s real magnificence can really only be seen in person. I just wanted to stand there all day and stare into the glow.
I also saw one of the five iconic Jaques- Louis David paintings of “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” (the “Belvedere version”)and other wonderful works including a few Rodin sculptures. I didn’t want to pay the extra to go into the Lower Belvedere, which only housed contemporary art.The two beautiful Belvedere Palaces were the summer home of Prince Eugene of Savoy, who had them built in the early 18th century. This was one of many construction projects undertaken in Vienna during a period of prosperity following the Prince’s successful military campaign agains the Ottoman Empire. The gardens of the Belvedere were in the formal French style popular at the time, and work is being done to restore them to an original design. The jardin à la française would have been similar in style to the gardens of Versailles. You can still see traces of the attempt to impose order on nature through symmetry and geometric shapes. And it’s not hard, standing at the top of the sloping lawn, to imagine the opulent aristocrats of Vienna arriving in carriages for some grand event.
[35mm taken with my Canon EOS Rebel 2000. For more pictures of my weeklong trip to Austria, click here.]