The Palais Niederösterreich holds a special place in Viennese history as the site of a revolution, birthplace of a republic, and host to famous musicians.
- 16th-century palais redesigned in the 19th century
- Some gothic and renaissance areas still preserved inside
- Liszt, Beethoven, and Schubert performed here
- Rarely fully open to the public except at the Easter/Christmas markets and other special events
- See also: The Easter market | The Christmas market | European Heritage Day
(Rear view of the palais)
The building itself traces its origins to the early 16th century, when the original house was converted for use as a Vienna base for representatives from the province of Lower Austria (German: Niederösterreich).
The palais boasts quite a history. For example, the revolution of 1848 began inside, and the key negotiations preceding the establishment of the second Austrian republic took place within its walls in 1918.
Various extensions and rebuilding works have left only a few remnants from the original building; most of the current external appearance stems from the middle of the 19th century. Curiously, the top two floors are modern office roof extensions, but cunningly designed so you cannot see them from ground level.
The true majesty of Palais Niederösterreich only reveals itself inside, thanks to some rather spectacular and historic rooms. For example:
- A gothic chapel with beautifully-shaped rib vaults
- An original renaissance chamber from 1572 with its carved wooden portal, giant caryatids, and a stunning wooden ceiling replete with gilded coats of arms from the reign of Emperor Maximilian II
- The Landtagssaal, constructed during the renaissance and famous for its baroque ceiling frescoes
(The Landtagssaal around 1907; C. Ledermann jun. (Producer), Sitzungssaal im niederösterr. Landhaus. Vienna, Herrengasse 13., 1907 (Production), Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. 58891/88; reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence)
Given its excellent acoustics, the Landtagssaal regularly hosted concerts at a time when Vienna had no dedicated concert venue (this all changed with, for example, the construction of the Musikverein).
Apparently, Franz Liszt performed there in 1822, Beethoven conducted there in 1825, and Schubert premiered some of his works there, too.
Incidentally, the original connection to Lower Austria was never lost. In fact, the building only ceased to be the home of the provincial parliament in the late 1990s (the parliament still owns the building).
(Part of the front entrance portal)
Tickets & visitor tips
First, the bad news.
Palais Niederösterreich is not normally fully open to the public. It’s a private event location and partly occupied by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs.
All three events give you a chance to see several of the historical rooms, and accompanying tours get you into, for example, that remarkable renaissance chamber.
The palais also houses Kunstraum Niederoesterreich, which puts on a handful of exhibitions in a wing of the palais each year (with free entry).
How to get to Palais Niederösterreich
The palais is easy to reach. Herrengasse starts at one end of the Hofburg palace, so you’re probably passing it as you view the central sights. But if you want to travel direct:
Subway: The U3 line stops at Herrengasse. Unsurprisingly, go out through the Herrengasse exit and you’re a few steps from the palais.
Tram/bus: Herrengasse also has a bus stop, serviced by the 1A and 2A bus lines that twist their way through the centre.
When you’re there, be sure to pop over the street to Café Central, an absolutely gorgeous coffee house.
Address: Palais Niederösterreich, Herrengasse 13, 1010 Vienna