Most horses make do with a wooden stable and a bit of hay. But most horses aren’t the Spanish Riding School’s Lipizzaners. They live in a Renaissance arcade court and former art gallery. And the stable forecourt turns into a little Advent market in the period leading up to Christmas.
- Gorgeously lit covered courtyard
- A handful of stalls selling (mostly) gourmet food and drink
- Large central bar also serves light meals
- The horses watch on from the sidelines (and Pegasus watches over you from the ceiling above)
- 2020 dates: TBA if it goes ahead (was Dec 1 to Jan 6 in 2019)
- See also: Christmas markets | Spanish Riding School tickets and info
NB: Events, etc. continue to be subject to public health restrictions in late 2020 and likely beyond. Be prepared for changes (e.g. compulsory face masks at all seasonal markets)
Adventmarkt in the Stallburg
The stables go by the name of the Stallburg. Now part of the Spanish Riding School, the building dates back to the middle of the 16th century. The future Emperor Maximilian II had it built as a multipurpose facility (which included accommodation for the imperial horses).
Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria stored around 1400 paintings there in the 17th century, so royal mares and stallions essentially lived beneath an art gallery for over a hundred years. You can see many of Leopold’s masterpieces in the picture galleries of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Normally, the Stallburg is off limits to the general public, notwithstanding guided tours. But in 2019, the courtyard hosted its first (small) Advent market in cooperation with the same folk who put on the lovely equivalent in Palais Niederösterreich.
I hope they repeat the exercise in 2020, but who knows what will happen this year with all the various event restrictions and public health measures.
When you’ve been to as many Christmas markets as I have, you get a little blasé about new ones. But the Stallburg market made an excellent impression.
The whole courtyard and stacked arcades were lit up in reds and oranges with a giant Pegasus hanging from the ceiling. The effect was quite wonderful, enhanced by a small ring of tasteful stands mostly selling the kind of gourmet food and drink that make excellent gifts. Examples included little bottles of schnapps, handmade chocolates, and even a newly-launched Lipizzaner cake (not made from real Lipizzaners).
All of which is jolly nice, but possibly not the actual highlight…
The arcades edging the courtyard house the famous Lipizzaner stallions. And these marvellous animals were all at home. So, every now and then, a white head popped out above a stable door to cast an elegant eye over proceedings. You couldn’t go right up to the horses, but you could get within a yard or two.
2020 opening times
As mentioned earlier, I’m not sure if the event repeats in 2020 (watch this space). For reference, the 2019 dates were:
- December 1st, 2019 to January 6th, 2020
- 4pm to 10pm
- Closed December 6th, 24th, 25th, 26th, 30th and 31st, and January 1st
How to get to the Stallburg
They conveniently located the Stallburg near a subway station (or perhaps it was the other way around). Heerengasse station (on the U3 line) is a short walk away.
Otherwise, the 1A and 2A buses stop nearby (Habsburggasse or Michaelerplatz).
Of course, the Spanish Riding School sits in the heart of the Hofburg palace complex in the centre of town, so you may well pass it on foot anyway. And another Christmas market (the K.U.K. Weihnachtsmarkt) is almost next door.
Address: Stallburggasse 4, 1010 Vienna