The Belvedere Palace is actually two palaces. Together with their associated gardens, an orangery, and some royal stables, these palaces form a complex, the likes of which sits on a slope above Austria’s capital city of Vienna. Both of the Belvedere Palaces are steeped in the baroque style and constitute some of the most famous palaces in Austria.
The palaces that are part of the Belvedere Palace complex are known as the Lower Belvedere and the Upper Belvedere. They were designed by the renowned Austrian architect, Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, who was trained in Italy. Work on the Belvedere Palaces began in the early 1700s under the commission of the imperial throne, and the complex in general was gifted to the famous Austrian military hero, Prince Eugene of Savoy.
Interestingly enough, Prince Eugene of Savoy was wealthier than the Hapsburgs at the time that he received the Belvedere Palaces as a gift, and according to some accounts, he wasn’t overly fond of the palaces that he received. Savoy thus went on to make improvements to the Belvedere Palaces, adding attractive baroque elements. A collector of the arts, he also filled them with artwork. After Prince Savoy’s death in 1736, Belvedere Palace once again became property of the imperial throne, and by the late 1700s, it began serving as one of the Vienna museums. The art gallery that was at the heart of things was actually one of the world’s first public museums. Eventually, the bulk of the collection from this original gallery was transferred to the Kunsthistoriches Museum.
Over time, the Belvedere Palace complex would reclaim its role as a museum, and it very much serves as one to this day. One of the palaces plays host to the Museum of Austrian Baroque and the Museum of Medieval Austrian Art, while the other is home to the Austrian Gallery. Among the main highlights of the museums is the Gustav Klimt collection. When Belvedere Palace visitors aren’t exploring the museums, they can tour the lovely grounds. The extensive gardens alone are worth a visit. The Belvedere Palace is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm. This is not the only palace in Vienna. Visitors can also admire the beautiful Schonbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Hofburg Palace, official seat of the country's President.