The Baroque period

The Baroque period

In Hungary, the fortunes of war began to shift in the Habsburgs’ favour. However, the road to victory was a hard one. Twice, the Turks arrived at the gates of Vienna: on the first occasion, in 1529, under Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent, and on the second, in 1683, with the largest army ever mustered at that time. This made the impact of the epic victory which the Austrians and their allies Poland and Bavaria won in 1683 on Kahlenberg all the greater. Prince Eugene of Savoy was promoted to general and completed the “perfect victory” of the House of Austria. The whole of Hungary fell into the possession of the Habsburgs. In the mid-18th century, Austria was the undisputed supreme power on the Danube. That sense of triumph manifested itself in the magnificent Danube Baroque style.

The Austrian brand of Baroque originated in churches and monasteries on the Danube. At St. Florian, Carlo Carlone began the Baroque conversion of the Priory. The splendid staircase, marble hall and imperial wing together constitute one great expression of homage to the Habsburg dynasty. From 1688, a massive new construction programme was started at Melk abbey; it was to take over half a century to complete the monumental building we know today. The Benedictine abbey at Göttweig also wanted to adapt itself to the new, victorious times. The result was the designing of the biggest Danube abbey of all, whose towering walls and domes were intended to symbolise triumph over Moslems and Protestants alike.

The Habsburgs’ pre-eminence in the Empire was now undisputed. Austria’s architecture, visual arts, theatre and music all attested to her glory and genius. The Hofburg Palace and the imperial city on the Danube competed with Versailles and Paris for political and cultural primacy. Vienna was given its grandiose Baroque appearance. The famous Baroque master builders Johann Bernhard and Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach and Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt all worked under Emperor Charles VI (1711–1740). The dazzling Imperial Library, the Winter Riding School, and the Imperial Chancellory Wing, were built under their aegis. The Princes of Schwarzenberg, Liechtenstein, Lobkowicz, and the Schönborn, Auersperg and Trautson dynasties emulated their Emperor’s “Great Viennese World Theatre” with their magnificent palaces. Prince Eugene of Savoy, whose victories in both the east and the west had made the him richest man in the monarchy, had the Upper and Lower Belvedere Palaces built for himself on the gentle southern slope of the imperial city.

Baroque of churches and places
Maria Theresia