Upper and Lower Belvedere in Vienna.
Belvedere (3rd district in Vienna), name of the summer residence which Prince Eugène of Savoy erected between Rennweg street and Schweizergarten park. The name dates back to the rule of Maria Theresia and refers to the magnificent view over Vienna.
In 1697, Prince Eugène bought a plot of land adjoining Rennweg, which he enlarged to today's size in four stages until 1721. The Lower Belvedere was constructed between 1714 and 1716. It is a long, one-storey building composed of a seven-window projecting central part, two wings and two corner pavilions. The three-window central pavilion houses a marble hall. Prince Eugène did not spend much time in Vienna, and he used the palace as a summer residence. Construction of the Upper Belvedere commenced in 1720, first drawings had been made in 1717. Compared with the Lower Belvedere in terms of size and the language of form, the Upper Belvedere displays much more grandeur. It served as a representative setting for grand receptions and festivities. As the construction archives of Prince Eugène of Savoy have been lost, no complete history of construction is available. Construction of the Upper Belvedere was completed in 1723 (according to Rizzi in 1721-1722). Belvedere Palace is the chief work of the architect J. L. von Hildebrandt, who worked for Prince Eugène on several occasions. Its manifold architectural forms and sculptural structure make it one of the most prominent Baroque buildings of the 18th century. The garden between the two buildings, created by the Bavarian landscape gardener D. Girard has only been preserved in its basic outlines. The interior of the palace was designed by C. le Fort du Plessy. After the death of the Prince, the Belvedere was taken over by his sole heiress, Duchess Viktoria of Saxony-Hildburghausen. She sold it in 1752 to Maria Theresia. In 1775, Joseph II ordered the imperial picture gallery to be transferred to the palace, which was opened to the public for the first time in 1781. From 1806 the Lower Belvedere was also the home of the art collection from Ambras Palace. Both collections were moved to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in 1890. In 1894, the palace became the residence of the successor to the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. After World War I, the Austrian Gallery (Österreichische Galerie) found its new home in the palace. The Belvedere was severely damaged in1945, and in 1950 the so-called Gold Cabinet housed in the north-eastern corner pavilion of the Upper Belvedere fell victim to a fire and was reconstructed according to the original plans. General reconstruction and renovation work began in 1988 and is still under way.
Upper Belvedere in Vienna: Sala terrena.
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