Vienna has retained only a limited number of Renaissance buildings: during the XVIth century some emperors preferred to live (and embellish) Prague thus depriving Vienna of the advantage of being the residence of the imperial court.
Italian style courtyard in Schwanenfeld Haus, Backerstrasse 7 and Renaissance house in Judenplatz
The cradle of the medieval town is located around Stephansdom, its Romanic/Gothic cathedral, and by walking in the nearby net of narrow streets it is possible to find elements of Renaissance architecture, which, in the case of the courtyard of Backerstrasse clearly show an Italian influence (for a similar courtyard in Rome see Palazzo di Giacomo Mattei, a family who had close links with the Habsburgs).
A very fine Renaissance portal in Salvatorkapelle shows the close relationships existing between Vienna and northern Italy in particular with Venice and Milan. These relationships are visible also in a very Italian looking madonna.
Amalien Trakt in Hofburg
Hofburg is the name given to the complex of the imperial palaces: at the beginning it was just a small fortress protecting Vienna from
Hungarian and Turkish raids; with the construction of state-of-the-art Renaissance walls,
the defensive aim of the Hofburg became redundant and the emperors in the course of three
centuries turned it into an imposing residence, which lacks architectonic consistency.
Its oldest part was initially designed by the Italian Pietro Ferrabosco in 1577: it shows an adaptation of the Florentine use of bugnato, stones projecting from the wall (the image used as a background for this page shows a detail of the bugnato of Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome).
Schweitzertor in Hofburg
The first Ottoman siege of Vienna started on September 27, 1529, very late in the season and the early arrival of winter forced the sultan to return to Constantinople for the winter. The medieval walls of Vienna however had proved unable to sustain a properly planned siege. The Habsburgs therefore decided to replace them with new state-of-the art walls and those of Verona just built by Michele Sanmicheli were taken as the example to follow. Sanmicheli designed also the walls of Candia. The walls were pulled down in the XIXth century, but a surviving gate in the Hofburg tells us that the walls were not just a merely defensive structure, but were designed paying a lot of attention to their formal aspect, as Sanmicheli had done in Verona. The 1552 inscription in Latin celebrates Ferdinand I, who in addition to his imperial title was king, archduke/duke of several European countries.
Pages in this section of the website in recommended order:
Introduction: the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nations
The 1683 Siege of Vienna
XVIIth century churches
XVIIth century palaces
Monuments celebrating the end of plagues
The walls of Vienna
XVIIIth century churches
XVIIIth century palaces
Italian sculpture and sculptors
A political manifesto: Karlskirche
Churches without the walls
Palaces and Villas without the walls
A day in the countryside: Perchtoldsdorf