Monday, April 15, 2013

A palace and Spring

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, or "Sisi," was one of the more interesting nobles of the last couple of centuries.  Smart, strong-willed, beautiful, and more than a little whacked, she married at 15 into the huge responsibility of Empress and then fought with that role the rest of her life.  An anarchist killed her with a letter opener. 

Her quarters and those of her husband, Franz Joseph I, are open for viewing (at a fee, of course; nothing once imperial is now free).  I had known little about Sisi, and though I know only somewhat more now, I find her a fascinating character.  Franz Joseph was also quite the character, and touring their quarters today and reading about them, I was glad to have been able to learn a bit more. 

Though not ostentatious by, say, de' Medici standards, this imperial palace was quite impressive, if more clearly designed for function than the ones in Florence or Venice.  The place banned photography, and the guards were more alert than in most, so I took very few pictures.  This chandelier definitely demonstrated the beauty of Austrian crystal.

Click on any image to see a larger version.

The adjoining silver museum, which contains a goodly sampling (though by no means anywhere near all) of the silverware and dishes for the palace was interesting both for the excesses it demonstrated and for the logistics challenges that palace life posed the staff. 

Did I mention excess?

Due to the fact that Franz Joseph frequently preferred to dine alone but also to eat at the same time as his marshalls, cooks often had to finish heating his meals in stairwells using pans and trays they had for just that purpose. 

On another part of the huge grounds that were once part of the imperial turf sits a lovely little park, the Burrgarten.  Spring, which has been slow to arrive everywhere I've been, finally made an appearance today in the form of this tree, which I shot from the ground while leaning against a nearby wall and dozing in the late afternoon sun.

Many locals had the same idea.

I am a huge fan of odd food stands, so it's only natural that this one would catch my eye. 

Tomorrow, more art!

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