Some innocent little locations in Vienna turn out to have their own stories to tell. Like Palais Pallavicini, a neoclassical townhouse and one-time home to the enigmatic Harry Lime.
- Built in 1784 opposite the court library
- Lovely entrance portal
- Major film location for The Third Man
- See also: Josefsplatz
Another Neoclassical gem
Put Palais Pallavicini out in the suburbs and passers by would constantly pause to admire its ornate portal and somewhat libertine female statuary.
Unfortunately, the location on Josefsplatz puts this townhouse up against some stiff historical competition.
The Renaissance home of the Spanish Riding School horses is a near “neigh”-bour (sorry, couldn’t resist). As is the Hofburg Habsburg complex. And the extraordinary Baroque Prunksaal state hall of the National Library. Oh, and Napoleon got married (sort of) in the church opposite.
However, the palais can still claim its own proud story.
Inevitably, given the location, the site has an imperial history. Various Habsburgs once owned the land and surrounds, including Elisabeth of Austria (widow of France’s King Charles IX), who established a convent here in the late 1500s.
By the late 1700s, the convent had been dismembered and today’s palais site became the property of a Count Fries. In 1784, he had Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg build the townhouse that now looks out over the square.
Dear Johann was a bit of an architectural star of the time; his other creations can be found, for example, in the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace (such as the Gloriette) and inside several Viennese churches.
The four female figures that flank the palais entrance went up in 1786, seemingly to add a little Baroque-like decoration and address concerns that the neoclassical palais look might not quite fit the style of the surrounds.
The man responsible for those Caryatids (Franz Anton Zauner) later went on to produce the equestrian statue in honour of Emperor Joseph II that sits opposite the palais.
The building eventually passed into the hands of the nobleman Alfons Pallavicini. Hence the name (though you sometimes see the building designated as Palais Fries-Pallavicini).
Like many of its town-centre colleagues, the palais now serves as a prestigious event location.
The Third Man
Despite all that history, Palais Pallavicini might be best known for its star turn in one of cinema’s most iconic films. The palais played the role of Harry Lime’s apartment block and home in The Third Man.
Various scenes take place inside and around the building, as protagonist Holly Martins tries to investigate Lime’s death on the road outside.
(This exact perspective appears in The Third Man, when Holly Martins first reaches the palais)
The palais also turned up in a more recent drama: the period detective series, Vienna Blood. Episode 1 of that production included a chase scene across the Pallavicini’s roof, for example.
How to get to Palais Pallavicini
Just follow the advice given in the Josefsplatz article to reach the palais. It’s slap bang in the middle of the tourist hotspot for those simply enjoying Vienna’s old town, so easily found on your wanderings through the city centre.
Address: Josefsplatz 5, 1010 Vienna | Website