It’s tough being an Emperor. By your definition, everyone else is “beneath you”.
Fortunately, there are ways and means of avoiding the unwashed masses. You could, for example, have your own private station entrance for catching the train outside your summer palace.
Not just any old entrance, of course: it’s got to look properly Imperial. Which leads us to the Hofpavillon at Hietzing station.
- The Emperor’s private railway pavilion built in 1899
- Architect Otto Wagner’s only “Imperial” building
- Small exhibition inside
- Opens at weekends in the warmer months
- €5 for an adult ticket (or free with the Vienna Pass*)
The expansion of Vienna’s Stadtbahn metropolitan railway system at the end of the 19th century included construction of the Wientallinie, a rail line which followed the course of the River Wien. This took it past Schönbrunn palace, sometime summer home of Emperor Franz Joseph I.
Architect Otto Wagner designed the new Stadtbahn stations, including the famous Karlsplatz pavilions. He was quite keen to get a foot in the door with the Imperial court, so he suggested building a private pavilion for Franz Joseph that would give the Emperor and his retinue their own access to the station platforms at Hietzing. The proposal was accepted, leading to the opening of the Hofpavillon in 1899.
It didn’t help Wagner much. Great as his architectural achievements in Vienna were, the Hofpavilon was his only Imperial building. Also, the Emperor only used the Hofpavillon twice. So all-in-all not a great return on investment.
What can you see?
Photos of the Imperial pavilion feature in this slideshow of Wagner’s stations and bridges in Vienna:
It’s a striking building with a lovely entranceway and baroque-style dome, all fully renovated and restored in 2014. The design blends the trademark simplicity and colours of the Stadtbahn stations with a dollop of Imperial majesty, thereby elegantly bridging the worlds of functionality, modernism and royalty.
That was my impression, anyway, but I may have got a bit flowery in the description.
You can work your way around the insides very quickly. Beyond the ticket office is a beautiful octagonal room with mahogany panelling and dark silk wall coverings. The painting by Carl Moll is impressive, depicting an aerial view of Vienna. The room seems to tremble a little when a train passes underneath.
Off to the left is the white-walled hall that would have led to the platforms. Here you can see, for example, the original presentation drawings used to convince the court of the value of the building project. All information is presented in German and English.
Off to the right is another white room with information, drawings and photos covering the Stadtbahn, its stations and the Imperial pavilion.
Beyond the octagonal room is a smaller waiting room, again with dark wood panelling and green silk wall coverings.
The Pavilion has limited opening times. Typically it’s open during spring and summer (mid-March to end of October), weekends only, 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm. At the time of writing, adult tickets are €5 with concessions available. There’s a website you can check for the latest on opening hours, prices and similar.
- It only takes a few minutes to look around, so you can easily fit in a quick trip while viewing Schönbrunn palace and park (which is immediately opposite the pavilion)
- If you’re up for a pilgrimage to Otto Wagner’s grave, it’s not far away from here in the Hietzinger cemetery (see the map below)
- There’s a nice photo opportunity if you stand on the bridge at the Hietzing station and look down the tracks in the direction of the city center – the pavilion hangs incongruously over the rail line.
How to get to the Imperial pavilion
Simply go to Hietzing station and exit in the direction of the city centre: you’ll see the pavilion in the distance, less than a 100m walk away. Just be careful walking there, as it’s a popular cycle route and alongside a busy road.
Hietzing is on the following public transport lines: the U4 subway; the 10 and 60 tram lines; the 51A, 56A, 56B, and 58A bus lines.
Address: Schönbrunner Schloßstraße, 1130 Vienna | Website
This map shows all the main Otto Wagner locations in Vienna: