Prunk means pageantry or splendour, and stall means stable. So the Prunkstall is where Belvedere’s horses probably enjoyed better housing than many people of the time. Today, it’s home to much of the gallery’s medieval collection.
- Part of the Lower Belvedere complex
- Altar panels, paintings, and statues from the medieval period
- Just three rooms, so quick to get around
- The Belvedere is a dynamic museum, so the actual works on display may vary
- All info available in English and German
- See also:
Quick Lower Belvedere tickets
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
You get a feel for the original purpose of this building from the horse-faced reliefs on the decorated ceiling and the stone water basins along the walls of the largest gallery.
However, the only horses inside the Prunkstall today are those pictured in the religious art on display: the three main rooms host Belvedere’s medieval collection, though many of the true masterpieces have moved to the upper palace.
(Interior of the Prunkstall: the Belvedere Medieval collection; press photo © Lukas Schaller / Belvedere, Wien)
The medieval highlights
In the first gallery, walls that once held hay now bear altar panels and paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as the giant Rogendorf fir altarpiece from around 1495.
The second gallery has more of the same, while the third features sombre-looking statues made of sandstone, pottery and various types of timber that include limewood, Swiss stone pine, walnut and willow.
The art appears in themed groups, such as depictions of saints or Mary, and the condition of the works is often extraordinary when you remember they can date back over 500 years.
Though these are not the crème de la crème of the Belvedere medieval collection, you still have much to enjoy.
As a non-expert, here are my highlights along with their numbers in the free guide booklet, where relevant (at least at the time of my last visit)…
- The six Gothic statues from the very walls of Stephansdom cathedral. These portray Duke Rudolf IV, his wife Catherine of Bohemia, his parents Duke Albert II and Johanna von Pfirt, and her parents, Emperor Charles IV and Blanche de Valois
(Not sure how long the statues will stay here, since they’re on loan from the currently-under-construction Wien Museum.)
- I enjoyed the rather unpleasant devil character in the early 16th century painting of a scene from the legend of St. Cosmas and St. Damian (see photo above – number 55 in the guide booklet).
- Not sure if it was deliberate, but the painting of the Adoration of the Magi from around 1500 (number 12?) has Joseph (or perhaps the innkeeper?) at the back looking slightly miffed at the lack of attention.
- The painting of the martyrdom of St. Erasmus from around 1500 (number 81) doesn’t hold back in its depiction of how that martyrdom came to be (grotesque torture instrument included). No spoilers, but Erasmus is kind of the patron saint of abdominal pain.
- My wife says it’s not an anachronism, but the painting of St.Ambrose from 1498 (immediately on your right in room two) shows him wearing a pair of glasses.
- In Gallery 3, look for the pearwood relief of the Fall of Man from the early 1500s. It’s incredibly detailed and reminds me of the tiny boxwood rosary pendant on display in the Kunsthistorisches Museum’s Kunstkammer.
(This messenger seems a little suspicious. Photo courtesy of and © Belvedere, Wien. Reproduced with permission under the terms of Creative Commons License CC BY-SA 4.0.)
Tickets & visitor tips
Inside the entrance room, be sure to pick up one of the free English-language booklets mentioned above. It guides you through the history and contents of the collection.
Vienna has other medieval gems outside of Belvedere’s collections, of course. Consider, for example, a visit to the Schottenstift museum, home to the Schottenaltar panel paintings.
How to get to the Prunkstall
See the directions for Belvedere article. You access the Prunkstall from the end of the west wing of Lower Belvedere palace.
Address: Rennweg 6, 1030 Vienna
N.B. Don’t forget the r: a Punkstall would be something completely different.