In the Hidden Attics of Hofburg

V podkroví Hofburgu

Hofburg is a former winter palace of the Austrian emperors, we could translate it as the Castle of the Court but it doesn’t give the same noble impression. Hofburg – it sounds very similar with almost the same nobility to Habsburg, although we have to say that actually, it was the dynasty of Babenberg who started the construction.

It is a huge complex of 240,000 m², its parts were built during seven centuries and are closely connected to the history of the Austrian Empire. Hofburg consists of 18 wings, 54 staircases, 2,600 rooms and 19 inner courts. Today, there are different institutions, museums, chapels, the Austrian National Library, Imperial Treasury, Spanish Riding school with stables, but also the office and representation rooms of the Austrian president and a modern congress center inside the buildings. And the magnificent large hall belongs to the best ball addresses in Vienna.

Every wing has to have a roof as well. The Hofburg attics are very rarely open to the public. I was lucky to attend a guided tour organized by the Federal Property Department which takes care of the conservation of historic buildings and properties. It was an extraordinary experience so I would like to share it with you.

Red tiles, chimneys, small windows with curtains and flowerpots… At first sight, you might think these are very common roofs of some very common houses! Well, there’s something in it because there are also almost 90 apartments in Hofburg! Some are small, some are large, from 35-120 m². Once, court ladies or other court staff used to live here, the apartments were inherited, who knows who lives there now? It has always been a good address. When Maria Theresa implemented the numbering of all houses in Vienna, Hofburg was house No 1. What else? 🙂

The attics are baroque wooden constructions which have resisted for several centuries

They are empty or serve as storerooms for spare tiles

There are neither mouses nor bats living here, the place is not haunted. From time to time, a pigeon gets in but we didn’t meet any and didn’t see any traces of birds.

We were more surprised by the strong neon lights

You can see also some graffiti on the walls left by workers, accidental visitors from the past or even Soviet soldiers at the end of the war. Other signs were carved into the wood by workers who shaped the beams. The signs were counted and according to the number, the workers received their salary.

Beams were shaped manually with an axe, the oldest ones are from 1427!

The light was coming inside through small windows, sometimes we could see the City Hall, the stables or a court. In St. Michael’s Wing, we came out onto the roof.

The view from there was amazing

We had a green dome behind us, so close that we could almost touch it

The sculptures in front were showing their smoothed backs to us

We were so close to the big white vases that we could see the grimaces on them…

…but also enjoy the gorgeous view of St. Stephen’s Cathedral

The tower of St. Michael’s Church touched the sky like a sharpened pencil…

…and St. Michael’s Square spread below us in its full splendour

The pictures were captured from this place

We returned to the attics where another surprise awaited us.

Suddenly, we found ourselves in front of Gothic vaults, pinnacles, cross flowers and other architectural ornaments of that style

We were looking at the external wall of the rear part of the Imperial Court Chapel (Hofburgkapelle) from Gothic times

Also here, on the historic wall of the chapel, we could see different inscriptions carved by accidental visitors, some of them more than 100 years old, there is even a picture of a well-rounded naked woman with garters

Walking through the Hofburg attics we wondered how the wooden constructions could survive in such a good condition

Just one stray spark could be enough… As happened during the night of 26-27 November 1992, when the area of the Redoute Wing burned down. The horses from the Spanish Riding School had to be evacuated and more than 10,000 books from the national library were brought to a safe place. Both institutions were in danger but could be saved.

At the end of the tour, there was another cherry on top waiting for us – the view of the State Hall of the Austrian National Library.

From above, the oval form of the central part of the hall was more obvious…

…and we could see the beautiful wall painting from close-up

You could also read:

Prunksaal – A Spectacular Temple of Knowledge

3 Best Ball Addresses in Vienna

Austrian President Welcomes Official Visits in a Bedroom!

Text: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri
Fotos: © Copyright Ingrid, Travelpotpourri



  1. Valika

    Ingrid ako vzdy nadherne poucne ..

    1. Ingrid (Post author)

      Ďakujem, Valika. 🙂

  2. Jana

    Inka, krásne:-) Jana

    1. Ingrid (Post author)

      Ďakujem, Jani, bol to aj naozaj krásny zážitok.

  3. Helena Billand

    Mila Ingrid, clovek len cumi, ako stale vyhrabes nieco, co sa len tak rychlo nenajde. Dakujem a len tak dalej. Super!

    1. Ingrid (Post author)

      Ďakujem, Hela, od človeka, ktorý toho tak veľa o Viedni vie, taký komentár veľmi poteší! 🙂

  4. Anna

    Halo Ingrid.
    Ein super geschriebener Artikel.
    Gut gemacht. AS 🙂

    1. Ingrid (Post author)

      Vielen Dank, Anna! 🙂


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