The main gardens at Belvedere are the extra crunchy peanut butter between two slices of palace. A splash of colour and movement to contrast with the stoically baroque white-walled architecture.
- Beautifully-kept gardens, bookended by the Lower and Upper Belvedere palaces
- (Obviously) particularly good in warmer seasons, also because of the fountains
- Free entry and open early (from 7.30am at the latest)
- See also: Belvedere tickets & opening times
Walking up from Belvedere’s lower palace is like traversing a costume drama film set, but without bumping into Keira Knightley. It’s all sculpted hedges, graceful fountains, and cherubic statues – and all looking clean and tidy as you climb to the magnificence of the upper palace.
If it’s a warm summer’s day, the kind where the neighbours might leave a window open, you can get lucky and hear (as I did) the gentle tones of a solo violinist from the neighbouring convent. That was a nice moment.
Even in winter there is much to admire, thanks to the geometric patterns mapped out by flower beds and the carefully-pruned ornamental conifers.
The gardens have a Versailles feel, spread across three large terraces, though on a much less grand scale than their French colleague (inevitably).
Most people focus on the terraced area between the two palaces, but go round Upper Belvedere to find the small lake – the southernmost point is the place to take an iconic photo. The water reflects the front of the palace and looks particularly spectacular at night, even more so when the Christmas market occupies the palace forecourt.
The gardens were the first part of the Belvedere complex to start construction back in 1700, directly after Prince Eugene had bought up the land. The designer was a chap named Dominique Girard, who studied under André Le Nôtre, the landscape architect behind Versailles (aha!). You might know Le Nôtre from the Alan Rickman film, A Little Chaos.
The gardens weren’t completed until the 1720s, largely because the man who put in the foundations for the main fountain left early on a Friday, and his promise to come back next week to finish things off proved optimistic (not true).
Later, the prince even added a zoo (true).
Tickets & visitor information
The gardens are free to enter and have been open to the public since 1780.
The gates open at 6.30 or 7 in the morning and close between 5.30pm and 9pm, depending on the season – full details here (note: these are the opening times for the gardens, not the times for the palaces).
How to get to Belvedere gardens
See the main Belvedere article for directions.