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Johann Adam Delsenbach after Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, The Winter Palace after the First Expansion 1708/11, undated

The history of the Winterpalais

The Winterpalais was built on a total of four plots in Vienna’s Himmelpfortgasse, formerly known as Trabothen-Gasse.

First building phase (1696–1698)

The first plot of land was purchased in 1694. Based on plans by the Baroque architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, the first building phase began in 1696 and eventually extended to the adjacent plot, then known as the Stadel (barn), which was acquired in 1702. At this stage, the palace comprised a portal and seven bays, which today form the central section of the Winterpalais and the Grand Staircase.

Second building phase (1708–1711)

In 1703, Prince Eugene acquired another plot, the so-called Ballhaus (ball house). Between 1708 and 1711, architect Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt extended the palace from seven to twelve bays and had a second portal constructed, which today is the doorway on the left.

Third building phase (1723–1724)

After purchasing a fourth plot in 1719, the third building phase began in 1723 and continued through to 1724. The Winterpalais was extended from twelve to seventeen bays, including the library wing and a third portal, today’s doorway on the right. Prince Eugene died in 1736, in the early hours of 21 April. His sole heiress was his niece, Anna Victoria of Savoy, who successively sold the movable property; partition walls were introduced to divide the palace. While the newer part, the so-called Kleines Haus (Small House), was rented out, the older section was left empty for eighteen years.

The Winterpalais since 1752

In 1752, Empress Maria Theresa acquired not only the Winterpalais, but also the Belvedere and the palaces of Hof and Niederweiden. Following several renovations and adaptations, the Winterpalais accommodated the Imperial Chamber for Minting and Mining, the Supreme Judicial Authority, and finally the Court Treasury, the institution preceding the Ministry of Finance. Then, starting in 1841, a further period of adaptations culminated in the establishment of the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Finance at this location in 1848. Major restoration work was undertaken between 1888 and 1890, followed by smaller adaptations in the years 1913 and 1928. From 1945 to 1947, damage from the Second World War was repaired, and between 1967 and 1973 the staterooms underwent a thorough renovation.
In 2004 the decision to launch a major restoration programme was made under the direction of the Burghauptmannschaft Österreich, responsible for the management and conservation of the Republic of Austria’s historic buildings. After approximately five years’ work, this year saw the completion of these renovations and adaptations. Under the auspices of the Burghauptmannschaft and in agreement with the Federal Monuments Office, the site has been updated while great care was taken to preserve the historic fabric of the building by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt. In this way, the renovations have taken account both the building’s unique qualities and historical significance and the requirements of a modern, forward-looking administration.
With the opening of the Belvedere’s new – and fourth – exhibition venue, the principal rooms of Prince Eugene’s state apartments are accessible to the public since October 2013.