A Guide to Vienna’s Belvedere Palace and to Its Top Artworks

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The more I explore Vienna, the more I fall in love with it. It’s a wanderer’s dream with its breathtaking churches like Stephansdom, Karlskriche, and Peterskirche; grand museums like Kunsthistorisches Museum and Museum of Military History; and magnificent palaces. Honestly, I can’t imagine what else could make this city any better.

Now, when it comes to palaces in Vienna, there are three that you just can’t miss. First up is the Hofburg, the winter residence of the Habsburg Family. Then there’s the Schönbrunn Palace, their summer home that is full of picturesque spots. And last but not least, we have the Belvedere Palace, which I’m going to tell you about now.

Belvedere Palace is just outside Vienna’s Ring Road, and in my opinion, it is one of the most picturesque spots in the city. Between the garden fountains, the Marble Hall, and the view from the Upper Belvedere’s balcony, you’ll find plenty of reasons to linger and snap a few photos. To me, this architectural marvel is one of the places where you can witness the beauty of Vienna. But here’s the exciting part: Belvedere Palace is more than just picture-perfect views.

Let me share with you all the beautiful and fascinating things I discovered there. I’ll tell you why I think a visit to Belvedere Palace is absolutely worth it.

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A glimpse to Upper and Lower Belvedere Palace

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Quick Introduction

In a nutshell, Belvedere Palace is one of Vienna’s notable landmarks; a grand complex that includes two Baroque palaces, the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. It was built in the 18th century as a summer retreat for Prince Eugene of Savoy, a notable statesman and military leader. The palace’s design, a masterpiece by the famous Baroque architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, is a marvel to behold. It has picturesque gardens that often serve as the icon of Vienna on the Internet. 

Today, the Belvedere functions as an art museum, a historical site, and a tourist attraction. The palace holds a significant place in history, being the venue where the Austrian State Treaty was signed in 1955, ending the World War II occupation.

Should You Visit?

From the very beginning, I’ve been pointing out that the Belvedere Palace is a beautiful destination in Vienna. However, it’s important to note that it doesn’t automatically top the list of places to explore in the city. You know, Vienna is a sprawling metropolis filled with numerous attractions. Sightseeing is just the tip of the iceberg. You can also partake in cultural events and experience the city’s rich musical legacy.

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Belvedere Palace and other notable landmarks (Hofburg, Schönbrunn, and Kunsthistorisches Museum) in Vienna, Austria
Belvedere Palace and other notable landmarks (Hofburg, Schönbrunn, and Kunsthistorisches Museum)
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As you map out your itinerary, take into account a few key aspects like the duration of your city stay, weather, and most importantly, your personal interests. For those with a passion for architecture, art, and history, Belvedere Palace promises an unforgettable experience. For those who enjoy wandering and exploring, Belvedere Palace comes highly recommended from me.

And for those who are all-round travelers, this is my recommendation:

Suppose you’re visiting Vienna for the first time and only have a couple of days. In that case, you might want to save Belvedere Palace for a future visit. Instead, focus on the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Hofburg, Schonbrunn, and Vienna’s magnificent churches. However, if you’re fortunate enough to stay longer than three days, adding Belvedere Palace to your itinerary would be a decision you won’t regret.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to visit Belvedere Palace is the unique and famous artworks housed in its galleries. Two of the best examples that caught my attention as I explored Belvedere Palace are ‘The Kiss’ by Gustav Klimt and the ‘Character Heads’ by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt.

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The Kiss and the Character Heads — the two unique highlights of the art museum inside Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
The Kiss and the Character Heads — the two unique highlights of the art museum inside Belvedere Palace
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Belvedere Palace is actually home to hundreds of artworks. Some were created by renowned Western artists. A visit here is like a time-traveling journey through the evolution of art—from the medieval period to the contemporary era as we know it. Good to know: the paintings are clearly described in English.

However, to fully appreciate this experience, one must visit both the Upper and Lower Belvedere Palace, which can be quite costly. But, if you hold a Vienna Pass, the cost is not a concern as this economical ticket covers it. You can check the price of Belvedere Palace entry tickets here:

  1. Upper Belvedere & Permanent Collections
  2. Lower Belvedere & Temporary Exhibitions
  3. Upper Belvedere Skip The Line Tickets with Guided Tour 
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Inside the beautiful rooms of Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
Inside the beautiful rooms of Belvedere Palace
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The architecture serves as a delightful bonus to your art-viewing visit. The palace’s architecture is, in itself, a masterpiece! The Baroque embellishments and the ceiling frescoes in certain rooms of the palace are breathtaking.

Even though I’ve given high praise to the Belvedere Palace, it’s not actually the top museum in the city. Out of all the attractions (and museum) I’ve explored in Vienna, the Kunsthistorisches Museum is the one that truly amazed me. It’s a haven for art enthusiasts, history lovers, and those in search of beauty. If it’s the first museum you visit, it might set your expectations for a beautiful museum incredibly high. I believe no other museum in the city can quite match it, not even the Belvedere Palace.

Despite that, the Belvedere Palace also has its own unique exhibits and features to look forward to. And that’s what we’ll talk about next!

Must See Parts of the Palace

The Belvedere Palace is made up of several parts. Below is the map, labeled with the names of the parts of the palace.

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Map of the Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
Map of the Belvedere Palace
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In my view, however, you can already get a real sense of the Belvedere Palace by visiting just three areas: The Upper Belvedere, Lower Belvedere, and the garden nestled between them. These places showcase unique artworks and significant paintings, along with stunning architecture and photo spots that most of us are looking for. Among those that await you there, my favorites are listed in this section. I think you’ll also like them!

Truth be told, choosing my favorites was a challenge. The palace grounds were a feast for the eyes, even before stepping inside. I was particularly taken with the ornate iron gate at the southern entrance, close to the Alpine Garden.

But before anything—here’s something important to remember: the exhibits at Belvedere Palace are not always the same. They rotate on a schedule. However, the frequency of these rotations can vary, depending on the specific exhibition. Your experience may differ from others, depending on when you visit. To ensure you have the most accurate information, I recommend checking the official Belvedere Palace website. You can find the link in the resources section of this post.

Baroque Garden (A Photo Spot)

The first part of Belvedere Palace that I’d recommend is the Baroque Garden. This garden, situated between the Upper and Lower Belvedere, is the largest in the palace and among the most beautiful in Vienna.  There are several features here that will catch your eye, such as the elegant fountains and the cherubic sphinx statues. However, the garden’s planting beds are arguably the most special feature here.

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Statues and elegant fountains in the Baroque Garden of Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
Statues and elegant fountains in the Baroque Garden
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More info, more photos, and tips
The beautiful planting beds of the Baroque Garden of Belvedere Palace (drone shot), Vienna, Austria
The beautiful planting beds of the Baroque Garden of Belvedere Palace (drone shot)

No matter if you’re viewing from above, at ground level, or from the balcony of the Upper Belvedere, the design of these planting beds is arguably the most exquisite in the city. I’m particularly taken with the four beds nearest to the Upper Belvedere. In my opinion, their design surpasses even that of the Great Parterre’s planting beds at Schönbrunn Palace!

View from the Balcony of the Upper Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
View from the Balcony of the Upper Belvedere Palace

If you like taking photos, the fountains in the Baroque Garden are sure to inspire you to snap a picture. Try getting close to one of the fountains in the garden and position yourself so you can capture the facade of the Upper Belvedere, the fountain’s basin, and the sculptures in the fountains. I’m willing to bet you’ll end up with some amazing photos that you’ll be excited to share with your friends online!

Golden hour shot of the Upper Belvedere beside the fountain near the Lower Belvedere, Vienna, Austria
view of the Upper Belvedere beside the fountain near the Lower Belvedere

The Gold Cabinet (Lower Belvedere)

Palaces, in their grandeur and magnificence, were constructed with the intent to awe those who visit. The Habsburg Empire’s immense wealth is prominently displayed in these rooms, and it’s hard not to be taken aback by it. Among the publicly accessible rooms of the Belvedere Palace, the Golden Cabinet stands out.

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Midas-touched room of the Lower Belvedere Palace, the Gold Cabinet, Vienna, Austria
Midas-touched room of the Lower Belvedere Palace, the Gold Cabinet
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More information

Its walls, adorned with golden paint, exude opulence, while the large mirrors add a mesmerizing, infinite dimension effect. Interestingly, the Golden Cabinet that we can see today has been in its original condition since the mid-18th century. The last modifications in the room were made by Empress Maria Theresa. 

Where can you find the Golden Cabinet? Starting from the entrance of the Lower Belvedere, the Golden Cabinet is the last room on the ground floor before you reach the pathway to the Orangery. 

The Hall of Grotesques (Lower Belvedere)

During my exploration of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and Schönbrunn, I was struck by the Habsburg Monarchy’s deep appreciation for art. Their love for art is evident not only in their extensive collection of artworks but also in the way they adorned their rooms with art. This artistic flair is not just confined to Hofburg and Schönbrunn, but can also be seen in the Belvedere Palace, particularly in the Hall of Grotesques.

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The intricate walls and ceilings of Grotesques Hall in the Lower Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
The intricate walls and ceilings of Grotesques Hall in the Lower Belvedere Palace
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What to expect + more photos
Stunning frescoes (and a close up shot) inside the Grotesques Hall in Lower Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
Stunning frescoes (and a close up shot) inside the Grotesques Hall in Lower Belvedere Palace

This room is a feast for the eyes, with both its ceiling and walls covered in vibrant paintings, reflecting a style that was popular in 18th-century Vienna. The ceiling is adorned with artworks representing the four seasons, while the corners depict the four elements. The windowless walls feature Vulcan’s Forge and the Three Graces, symbolizing masculine and feminine principles. The artwork in the Hall of The Grotesque brings to mind the stunning Ambras Castle in Innsbruck, a picturesque Austrian Town in the Alps

The Marble Hall (Upper Belvedere)

The Marble Hall in the Upper Belvedere is undoubtedly the most historically significant part of the Belvedere Palace.  It’s where Leopold Figl and representatives from the USA, UK, France, and the Soviet Union signed the Austrian Treaty years after World War II.

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The architecture and scenes inside the Marble Hall of the Upper Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
The architecture and scenes inside the Marble Hall of the Upper Belvedere Palace
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More info, more photos, and what to expect

I think you must see the Marble Hall as it’s not only a historical place. It’s also one of the most beautiful rooms in the palace. The room’s rich gilding, elegant reddish-brown marble, and stunning frescoes create an atmosphere fitting for such a historic event. The frescoes, especially those on the ceiling, are so skillfully done that they trick the eye into perceiving them as three-dimensional. I had to look slowly to realize that parts of the ceiling were actually frescoes!

The frescoes on the walls and ceiling of the Marble Hall of the Upper Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
The frescoes on the walls and ceiling of the Marble Hall of the Upper Belvedere Palace

When you visit, don’t forget to peek at the large windows of Marble Hall. It offers a scenic view of the Baroque Garden and Lower Belvedere. The Marble Hall is situated on the first floor of the Upper Belvedere. As soon as you ascend the Grand Staircase, it should come into view.

The Carlone Hall (Upper Belvedere)

Before you ascend to the Marble Hall located on the first floor of the Upper Belvedere, you’re likely to visit the Carlone Hall first. Located on the ground floor, this room is immediately to your right as you stand in the entrance. When you’re visiting Belvedere, The Carlone Hall is another absolutely can’t miss because of its beautiful design. Imagine walking inside a temple, with every inch of the walls and ceilings covered in frescoes. That’s exactly what it feels like.

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Impressive 3D artworks covering an entire room — Carlone Hall, Vienna, Austria
Impressive 3D artworks covering an entire room — Carlone Hall
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What to expect, more info, and more photos
A closer look at the details of the frescoes inside the Carlone Hall of the Upper Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
A closer look at the details of the frescoes inside the Carlone Hall of the Upper Belvedere Palace

These frescoes depict the Triumphs of Aurora and they’re simply breathtaking. The attention to detail is incredible — there’s not a single spot on the walls or ceiling left untouched. It’s the definition of beauty.

The part of the Carlone Hall frescoes depicting the Triumphs of Aurora in the Upper Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
The part of the Carlone Hall frescoes depicting the Triumphs of Aurora in the Upper Belvedere Palace

There are beautiful exhibits placed in this room; however, I think they rotate and are replaced periodically. The last time I checked, there were medieval statues of saints that totally created a time-transporting vibe inside. Did you know? The frescoes you see in this hall were actually done by Carlo Innocenzo Carlone. He was a pretty famous fresco artist from Northern Italy. That’s actually where the hall gets its name from!

Der Kuss (The Kiss)

The Belvedere Palace is a great destination because it serves dual purposes. It’s both a historical palace and an art museum, offering visitors a double dose of culture in one trip. Now, as an art museum, the Belvedere Palace has some real gems. The crown jewel? That would be “The Kiss” (or “Der Kuss”), a masterpiece by Gustav Klimt.

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The Kiss, a masterpiece by Gustav Klimt inside the Upper Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
The Kiss, a masterpiece by Gustav Klimt inside the Upper Belvedere Palace
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More information + fascinating facts

Even though I’m not usually into non-classical art, this piece is something special. It’s like the Mona Lisa of the Belvedere Palace. This iconic painting is one of the standout examples of Art Nouveau from Austria. You’ll find “The Kiss” in the permanent collection at the Upper Belvedere, in the Vienna 1900 section.

What makes it stand out? Well, Klimt used gold in the painting, which really catches your eye among the exhibits. And when you see it, take a moment to look closely. Klimt had a unique way of creating art: he combined gold leaf with oils and bronze paint, giving the piece an ethereal quality. Fun fact: Klimt was the one who invented this painting technique.

Napoleon am Großen St. Bernhard (Napoleon Crossing the Alps)

Did you know that the famous painting ‘Napoleon Crossing the Alps’ has different original versions? One version can be found in Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin. Another is housed in Versailles, near Paris. A third version is located in Belvedere Palace. This painting is a must-see in the palace as it’s a significant piece of art history. It’s a powerful depiction of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the most influential figures in Western history.

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Napoleon Crossing the Alps, a notable artwork exhibits inside the Upper Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
Napoleon Crossing the Alps, a notable artwork exhibits inside the Upper Belvedere Palace
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More information + fascinating facts

The scene in the painting depicts a pivotal moment in his career. If you look closely, the painting captures the drama and intensity of Napoleon’s daring crossing of the Alps. This event was a key moment in his rise to power.

Interestingly, there’s also a copy of ‘Napoleon Crossing the Alps’ in the Kunsthistorisches Museum. If you’re interested, you can compare them in person. Based on what I saw, the paintings have slight differences, such as their size and the color of the horse and background. The version in Belvedere is slightly larger. Regardless, both paintings are incredibly huge, measuring over 2 meters or over 90 inches in both length and width.

Character Heads 

Belvedere Palace isn’t just home to paintings, it also houses sculptures from various eras. One collection that caught my eye was the Character Heads by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. Even though they were sculpted in the 1700s, they have a modern feel to them. If I had been alive when they were created, I would have been completely intrigued by their mysterious look.

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Guess the facial expression of these two Character Heads in the Upper Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
Guess the facial expression of these two Character Heads in the Upper Belvedere Palace
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More information and more photos
The Character Heads inside the Upper Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria
The Character Heads inside the Upper Belvedere Palace

These busts break away from the norm of serene, calm faces, featuring instead expressions of intense emotion. It’s still a mystery what Messerschmidt was trying to convey with these heads. If you’re visiting with a friend, you could turn it into a game: ‘Guess the Emotion.’ But fair warning, it’s not easy. Some of the heads are eerily unnatural, almost like beings from a post-apocalyptic world.

Last I checked, the Character Heads were in the Upper Belvedere, but you might want to check with the front desk to be sure.

More Photos (Palace & Exhibits)

More beautiful artworks and architectural scenes await you in Belvedere Palace. Here are the other exhibits and parts of the Belvedere Palace that I think you would like to see as well.

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How Much Time Here?

With the wealth of artwork to discover and beautiful spaces to explore at the Belvedere Palace, you might be wondering how much time you’ll need for your visit. The answer isn’t straightforward, as it really depends on which parts of the palace you’re interested in.

If you’re pressed for time, half a day (about 4 hours) should be enough to see the garden, the Lower Belvedere, and the Upper Belvedere. However, this won’t allow you to fully appreciate each piece of artwork. You should be able to catch the highlights in that timeframe, though.

If you’re traveling on a budget or you don’t have a Vienna Pass, I’d recommend prioritizing the Upper Belvedere. It houses a larger collection of artwork and some of the palace’s most stunning architecture. Notably, it’s also where you’ll find works by famous artists. If that’s your plan, you should be able to cover the essentials in about 2.5 hours, including a quick stroll through the garden. If you enjoy taking photos or want to spend more time relaxing in the garden, you might want to allocate 3 hours for your visit.

Resources

So, there you have it. That’s a glimpse of the beauty I’ve uncovered at the Belvedere Palace. In case you’re still in the planning stage to visit Vienna, I hope this gives you a better idea of whether or not to include the palace in your Vienna itinerary. The links below are helpful resources in further planning. 

If you’re planning a few days in Vienna and still need a place to stay, here’s where you can find the best hotel deals. The link will take you to a hotel search and booking platform that includes a map, helping you find a hotel in the most convenient location for you. This is an affiliate link, which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you if you book through it. It’s a fantastic way to support WanderInEurope, enabling us to continue crafting helpful guides like this one that may assist you in the future. Thank you!

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After visiting Belvedere Palace, you can return to the Old Town to explore and discover some hidden gems or visit some of the city’s free attractions. You might also consider going to a viewpoint in the city, like the Danube Tower, which offers breathtaking scenery outside the city.

If you’re staying in Vienna for a few days, day trips are recommended. Did you know it’s entirely possible to visit Salzburg from Vienna? Hohensalzburg Fortress and Mirabell Palace are must-see attractions in Salzburg, which is, by the way, the birthplace of Mozart!

Another day trip from Vienna is Melk Abbey. This spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site is just a quick ride from the city. The castles in Lower Austria are great day trips for romantics. Liechtenstein Castle and Kreuzenstein Castle have even been used as filming locations for movies. Laxenburg Castle Park is also worth checking out for a mix of castle and nature experiences.

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