THE MICHAELER WING OF THE HOFBURG CASTLE -ONLY THE CHOSEN ENTERED HERE
We are starting our tour of the Hofburg in front of the former main entrance on Michaelerplatz – one of Vienna’s most beautiful squares.
The large middle and side cupolas of the Hofburg, copper-green and adorned with gold, rise above the rooftops of the Michaeler Wing. They give the building a pronounced imperial character.
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The two monumental fountains on the left and right sides of the Michaeler Wing symbolize the power of the Habsburg Empire. On the far edge of the left wing you can see the fountain “Power at Sea” by the sculptor Rudolf Weyr1 . On the edge of the right wing, on the corner to Schauflergasse, you will find the fountain “Power on Land”. It was designed by the sculptor Edmund von Hellmer2 .
The Michaeler Wing was completed in 1893 by Ferdinand Kirschner3 who built it by order of Emperor Franz Joseph I4 . The main entrance, the Michealer Gate, thereafter became the official entrance to the imperial residence. This main entrance leads to the interior of the middle cupola and is flanked by four huge Heracles statues. Since the Middle Ages, the ancient world hero Heracles has been a role model for virtuous war-making and the exemplary behavior of a ruler.
Four of the twelve famous labors of Heracles are depicted here. Let’s take a look at the pairs of figures from left to right:
- – on the far left Heracles is slaying the Hydra, the multi-headed serpent of Greek mythology,
- – in the middle on the left Heracles is defeating the Amazonian queen Hippolyta,
- – in the middle on the right Heracles is freeing the Titan Prometheus,
- – far right Heracles is bringing the multi-headed hound Cerberus, the guard of the gates to the underworld, into the upper world.
Michaeler Wing of the Hofburg
Each of these groups of figures states the name of the on its base. These Herculean figures correspond with those by Lorenzo Mattielli5 , which we will take a closer look at inside of the Burghof.
Through the two side entrances of the main entrance you can reach the interior of the Michaeler Wing. The middle part of the main gate is reserved for carriages. I suggest taking the side entrance to the right. Just behind the arch of the right entrance you will see the relief Profectio Avgvsti by Otto Konig6 on the wall. If you now turn around and look to the other side, you will see the relief Adventvs Avgvsti by Stephan Schwartz7 .
In front of you, in the corridors that are roped off, you can see alcove figures that represent the virtues of government in female form. Together with the figures of Heracles in front of the entrance and the reliefs on the inner walls, these female depictions round off the sculptural concept of the Michaeler Wing.
In the middle of the passageway the interior of the middle cupola opens up over us. From here the staircases to the left and right lead up into the interior of the Hofburg.
On the left you will reach the Spanish Riding School8 and on the right the Imperial Silver Collection9 , the Imperial Apartments and the Sisi Museum10 . Let’s continue on a bit.
In the four pier alcoves before the end of the passageway there are two female figures each. They symbolize the governmental dictums of Emperor Karl VI11 , Maria Theresa12 , Joseph II13 and Franz II14 .