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, even when catching the train. Kaiser Franz Joseph had his own private station entrance just outside his summer palace: the Hofpavillon at Hietzing station.
- The Emperor’s private railway pavilion built in 1899
- Architect Otto Wagner’s only “Imperial” building
- Small exhibition inside
- Careful: limited opening hours (usually weekends in the warmer months)
- €5 for an adult ticket (or one-time entry for free with the Vienna Pass)
- See also: Otto Wagner locations
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.
Architect Otto Wagner designed the new Stadtbahn stations, including the famous Karlsplatz pavilions. Keen to get a foot in the door with the Imperial court, he suggested building a private pavilion on the Wientallinie for Franz Joseph, one that would give the monarch and his retinue their own access to the station platforms at Hietzing.
The Emperor approved of Wagner’s proposal, leading to the opening of the Hofpavillon in 1899.
The Ver Sacrum periodical, official organ of the progressive Secession, praised the building effusively and hoped it represented the beginning of the Wiener Moderne movement’s entry into the imperial construction market.
This success didn’t have quite the desired impact on Wagner’s order book, though. Great as his architectural achievements in Vienna were, the Hofpavillon was to be his only Imperial building. Also, the Emperor only used the station twice. So, all-in-all, not a great return on investment.
It looks good, though.
Inside the Hofpavillon
Despite its small size, the Imperial Pavilion makes a striking impression with its lovely entrance 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 Habsburg 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. An impressive painting by Carl Moll depicts an aerial view of Vienna. The room seems to tremble a little when a train passes underneath.
The white-walled hall off to the left 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.
A smaller waiting room beyond the octagonal room has dark wood panelling and green silk wall coverings.
You imagine the Emperor himself never sat in a waiting room with a bottle of water, bar of chocolate, and an eye on a display board. I suspect the train waited for him.
Tickets & visitor tips
The Pavilion is part of the Wien Museum group of locations and has limited opening times. Typically it’s open during spring and summer (early April to October), weekends only. At the time of writing, adult tickets were €5 with concessions available.
- 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 are immediately opposite the pavilion)
- 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 rather incongruously over the rail line.
- 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)
How to get to the Hofpavillon
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