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.
[NB: Closed until 2021 except for May 15th to June 1st, 2020]
- 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: Belvedere tickets & opening times
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 the masterpieces are mostly on show in the upper palace.
You can get a feel for the original purpose of the building from the horse-faced reliefs on the decorated ceiling and the stone water basins along the walls of the largest gallery.
The medieval highlights
(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.)
In the first gallery, walls that once held hay now bear altar panels and paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries, as well as a giant intact altarpiece.
The second gallery has more of the same, while the third features sombre-looking statues made of sandstone, pottery and various types of timber, including limewood, Swiss stone pine, walnut and willow.
The condition of the works is often extraordinary, when you remember they can date back over 500 years. And though these are not the crème de la crème of the Belvedere medieval collection, there are still plenty of highlights. As a non-expert, here are mine:
- 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 57 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 84) doesn’t hold back in its depiction of how that martyrdom came to be (grotesque torture instrument included). No spoilers, but there’s a very good reason 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 (number 80) shows him wearing a pair of glasses.
- British visitors will enjoy the altar wings from 1490/95 on the wall in Gallery 2 shared with Gallery 1: it’s George and the dragon (who you can also spot in the previous gallery, too).
- In Gallery 3, look for the pearwood relief of the Fall of Man from 1521 (number 146). It’s incredibly detailed and reminds me of the tiny boxwood rosary pendant on display in the Kunsthistorisches Museum’s Kunstkammer.
Tickets & visitor information
Inside the entrance room, be sure to pick up one of the free English-language booklets. It guides you through the history and contents of the collection.
How to get to the Prunkstall
See the directions for Belvedere article.
Address: Rennweg 6, 1030 Vienna
N.B. Don’t forget the r: a Punkstall would be something completely different.