But the west wing of Lower Belvedere and the Orangery offer access to another long, private garden hidden away behind high walls and hedges – the Kammergarten (privy garden).
The pavilions and pergolas that provided private amusement for Prince Eugene and honored guests are largely gone. But you might still pop in for two particular reasons.
© Belvedere, Wien
First, it’s not nearly as packed as the exhibition halls and main gardens, so you can gain a little respite from the crowds if it’s a busy time of year. I was there on my own on a July Saturday morning.
Second, the first raised area is laid out like an ornamental garden, but most (all?) plants there are vegetables.
This might sound uninspiring, but only until you see it. The beds makes wonderful use of different shapes and shades of foliage to create an eye-catching display of beans and brassicas, peas and pumpkins, and much more (I think – I was there in early summer before many of the plants had revealed their true vegetable nature).
The plants are rare varieties and there’s an incongruous reflective cube in the middle:
© Peter Baldinger
The cube and ornamental vegetables are actually an intriguing art installation (so I’m not sure how permanent) -the diffuse reflections of Peter Baldinger’s cube combining with Wolfgang Palme’s ornamental vegetable garden design.
It looks fantastic, though Prince Eugene probably would have added a few sword and shield reliefs in gold to the cube.
Finally, your third reason for visiting…
Find your way right to the very back where there was once a Baroque aviary. There’s a secluded area hemmed in by tall hedges. All you can see around you are:
- To the west, the tops of the trees in the grounds of the neighboring Palais Schwarzenberg (the plans for these gardens date back to 1697)
- To the east, the large dome of the Salesian church and convent (completed in 1719)
You are back in the 18th century. All you need is a decent wig and some uncomfortable clothes, and you’re practically a Baroque aristocrat.
P.S. The city once intended leasing the Kammergarten to the composer Richard Strauss, but he chose instead to build a villa on the other side of the botanic gardens.