The main gardens at Belvedere form the extra crunchy peanut butter between two slices of palace. A splash of colour and movement to contrast with the stoically Baroque pale-walled architecture of the buildings.
- Well-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 in the day
- See also:
(Part of the gardens with Lower Belvedere at the rear)
Walking up from Belvedere’s lower palace feels 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.
On 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 convent next door. A very Viennese moment.
Even in winter you have much to admire, thanks to the geometric patterns mapped out by flower beds and the carefully-pruned ornamental conifers.
(Fountain with Upper Belvedere in the distance)
The gardens have a Versailles feel, spread across three large terraces, though on a much (much) less grand scale than their French colleague.
Most people focus on the terraced area between the two palaces, but be sure to go around Upper Belvedere to find the small lake.
The southernmost point of the lake is the place to take an excellent photo of the palace. 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.
Point your camera in the opposite direction for a shot of the modern architecture rising above the Baroque limits of Belvedere, as if created in a sci-fi writer’s imagination.
(C. Ledermann jun. (also: Karl Ledermann) (Manufacturer), 3rd district, Panorama view of Vienna from the Belvedere gardens, postcard from around 1898, Sammlung Wien Museum; reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence)
The gardens were the first part of the Belvedere complex to start construction back in 1700, directly after Prince Eugene bought up the land.
The designer (Dominique Girard) studied under André Le Nôtre, the landscape architect behind Versailles (aha!). You might know Le Nôtre from the Alan Rickman film, A Little Chaos.
It took a couple of decades to complete the gardens, 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 (possibly not true).
Later, the prince even added a zoo (true).
Tickets & visitor tips
The gardens cost nothing to view and have been open to the public since 1780.
The gates usually open at 6.30 or 7 in the morning and close between 5.30pm and 9pm, depending on the season.
If you look back down the gardens from the rear of Upper Belvedere palace (outside) the visitors entrance, you also get a reasonable view across the city toward Stephansdom cathedral.
How to get to Belvedere gardens
See the main Belvedere article for directions.