Shortly after leading an Austrian Army to a remarkable victory over the Turks at Zenta in 1697, Prince Eugene of Savoy purchased a large plot of land outside Vienna. Eugene plan for the property included palaces and gardens. Johann Lukas Hildebrandt was selected as the project’s lead architect. Setting on a slope, the property rises gently from the front. Plans called for two palaces. The first, smaller palace, was built on the front (or lower part) of the property with a larger palace occupying the upper end. A large garden would stretch between the two palaces. Construction of the Lower Palace began sometime before 1712, and the Upper Palace was completed in 1723. Artists commissioned to work on the project include: painters Marcontonio Chiarini, Francesco Solimena, Carlo Carlone; and sculpture Giovanni Stanetti.
After Eugene’s death on April 21, 1736 Princess Maria Theresa eventually acquired the Gartenpalais (as the complex was known at the time) in 1742. A sales contract written in 1752 first refers to the complex as the Belvedere. The Upper Belvedere would, most frequently, be used as a gallery/ museum. Belvedere served as the residence of Franz Ferdinand for a period before World War I.
While the Belvedere’s architectural beauty is evident, the art it contains is also remarkable. I have not included any of the images of art work exhibited. We took three hours to tour the complex and we did not linger at any exhibit. I could have easily done so. If you visit Vienna, I strongly recommend you tour the Belvedere.