Upper Belvedere presents you with the eternal Vienna dilemma…what’s more impressive: the art on display or the building housing it?
- Art from the medieval to the modern
- World-leading Klimt collection includes The Kiss
- Wonderful interior architecture
- Book Upper Belvedere tickets* online
- Tip: advance booking a time slot avoids possible waiting time
- See also:
Quick Upper Belvedere tickets
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
The Upper Belvedere palace houses most of the semi-permanent displays that take you on a chronological journey through the prestigious Belvedere art collection.
(Upper Belvedere seen from the rear today)
Those continuous displays include:
- The History of Belvedere: the history of the building and collection (at the time of writing, a wall-drawn chronology with much of the original exhibition now contributing to the lovely Belvedere: 300 Years special exhibition)
- The Middle Ages to Renaissance: primarily gothic religious art that includes some remarkable altar panels but also the Carlone Contemporary series of special installations that change every six months or so
- Baroque, Neoclassicism & Biedermeier: portraits, landscapes, and more. Not to mention the brillant and bizarre Messerschmidt character heads
- Vienna 1900 (and Klimt): the most popular part where you find The Kiss and other works by Gustav Klimt. Also includes masterpieces by, for example, Schiele, Rodin, Makart, and others
- Emerging Modernism & The Avant Garde: new sections take you into the modernist era and contemporary works. Features such names as Hundertwasser, Schiele, Klimt, Moser, VALIE EXPORT, Kogelnik, Lassnig, Spoerri & more
(Upper Belvedere in the 19th century. Not a lot has changed! Photo courtesy of the Rijksmuseum)
The visitor entrance to Upper Belvedere is the Sala Terrena, a large, brilliant white “lobby” with a decorated stucco ceiling, sculpted pillars, and supporting arches.
This leads to the Grand Staircase: it seems you measured a person’s worth by the size of their staircase in Baroque days. And Eugene was worth a lot.
The grand staircase is, well, pretty grand: a huge wide stone staircase with stucco martial reliefs and giant iron-wrought lamps that would have greeted visitors as they arrived in their carriages.
The stairs take you up into possibly Upper Belvedere’s biggest “wow” moment that doesn’t involve a painter with the first name Gustav: the Marble Hall. The illusionist paintings add false galleries and niches to the impressive architecture.
(Upper Belvedere interior: the marble hall © Lukas Schaller / Belvedere, Wien)
The windows of the Marble Hall give great views down to Lower Belvedere and let you properly grasp the layout of the main gardens.
Although the room dates back to the early 1700s, its big historical moment came in 1955 when the allies signed the treaty here that gave Austria its independence after the post-WWII occupation.
(Tip: last time I visited the Vienna Furniture Museum, they had a display with the tables and chairs used at the signing.)
The palace also has a small chapel which you can glimpse while walking round the Klimt part of the permanent exhibition.
Tickets & visitor tips
I’d strongly recommend getting tickets in advance* for Upper Belvedere, as the queues for the ticket office (located just outside the palace) can grow quickly during peak season.
Upper Belvedere uses a time slot system. So purchased tickets for the palace come with your choice from available entry times (you can take as long as you like once inside). Which is why booking in advance makes sense, as purchases on the day can mean waiting for the next available time slot.
The entrance to the palace is on the north side, facing the main gardens and Lower Belvedere (just follow the big, red museum signs). This takes you into the entrance hall (the Sala Terrena), which is your starting point.
Once inside, you have a shop and café to your left and the masterpieces from the Middle Ages to your right
(Even if medieval art leaves you cold, consider at least going into the first room. This often houses a single piece of contemporary art specially commissioned for the rather splendid-looking surroundings.)
Go ahead and up the stairs for the Marble Hall and the main permanent displays.
(View of Upper Belvedere, published in 1737 by Johann Andreas d. Ä. Pfeffel, drawn by Salomon Kleiner, and engraved by Johann August Corvinus; Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. 105765/129; excerpt reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence)
As elsewhere in Belvedere, look in each room for a copy of its Salomon Kleiner engraving from the 1730s. Not every room has one, but the picture lets you grasp the original design, decoration and function, even if the room no longer looks anything like it did in Eugene’s day.
Incidentally, one of Vienna’s traditional coffee houses is a short walk from Upper Belvedere: Café Goldegg retains both a local flavour and its original 1910 Jugendstil interior (look for the inlaid patterns in the wall panelling).
How to get to Upper Belvedere
See the directions article for detailed guidance.
Address: Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030 Vienna