Last week we looked at the Royal Armory of Madrid, founded by the Hapsburgs in the 16th century. Another of the great Hapsburg armories of Europe is the one in Vienna. Part of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and housed in the Neue Burg palace, it is one of the most impressive collections of royal arms and armor anywhere.
The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna is one of Europe’s great art museums. With its origins in the personal collections of the Hapsburgs, it has extensive collections of French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Dutch art. There are also large galleries dedicated to Classical and Ancient Egyptian art. Of the most interest to Black Gate readers is the medieval collection, which is the best I’ve seen in ten years of exploring Europe’s artistic treasures.
The emphasis here is on luxury items that once graced the homes of nobility. Of especial interest are the numerous automatons, such as the 16th century cittern player above. There’s also a 16th century gold ship that rolls along a table and fires its cannon, a 17th century moving chariot that doubles as a clock, and a 17th century gilded Diana and centaur that wheel around in circles while moving their heads and eyes. These rare items were the wonders of their time and acted both as forms of conspicuous consumption and a way to celebrate the latest in technology.
Gold crucifix and reliquary, 19th century
Vienna is home to many great treasures, such as the Kunsthistorisches Museum with its fine art collection and the Hapsburg armor and armor collection at the Neue Berg. One little museum that’s often overlooked is the Church and Treasury of the Teutonic Order.
Tucked away near Stefansdom, the city’s cathedral, it’s easy to miss with its small steeple, smaller sign, and simple front gate. Go inside, however, and you’ll be in for a treat.
First stop is the 14th century Gothic church, remodeled in the early 18th century in the Baroque style. There’s a fine triptych from Flanders made in 1520 and the walls are covered with the coats of arms of various men who have joined the Order, which is formally called The Order of The Teutonic Knights of St. Mary’s Hospital in Jerusalem.