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Deep inside the wild forests of the Lainzer Tiergarten a spectacular and beautiful palace draws in tourists and locals alike who come to experience magic and wonderment at the Hermesvilla. Appearing like an ethereal apparition through the mists of the Vienna Hills, this beautiful stone and marble building, half villa and half whimsical folly, was originally a gift from Emperor Franz Josef I to his wife Empress Elisabeth, and dates back to 1886.

Named after the white marble statue of ancient Greek figure Hermes that stands in the museum's expansive grounds, the Hermesvilla was intended as a "Castle of Dreams" for the Habsburgs when it first opened. Designed by prominent Vienna architect Carl von Hasenauer, the villa is now a spectacular museum exhibiting its own remarkable history and the wider development of the fine arts in Vienna, particularly during the fin-de-siecle era towards the end of the 19th century.

When paying a visit to the Hermesvilla, you will find the original furnishings and personal belongings of Habsburg emperors and empresses, conveying the full majesty of their lost world. Highlights include the Imperial bedroom, complete with an antique bed dating from the 18th century and dream-like murals by Hans Makart depicting scenes from Shakespeare's fanciful masterpiece "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Visitors can also wander around Empress Elisabeth's personal gymnasium, complete with Pompeii-themed murals on the walls, or make a trip to her stables, which exist in an almost perfectly maintained condition, original box and tie stalls from the 19th century remaining unharmed. The bygone feel of much of the decor, and the story it tells about the life of Empress Elisabeth, cruelly assassinated in 1898 aged only 44, adds to the air of mystique and romance visitors will feel when walking the rooms and halls of the house.

Elsewhere on the property fine artworks by painters and sculptors such as Klimt and Charlemont adorn the walls and corridors of this splendid house. Yet, rather than a mere period piece, the house was also one of the most modern of its time, being the first house in the entire city of Vienna to boast a telephone line and outdoor electric lighting.

After World War Two and the Russian occupation of Vienna the villa fell into a state of dereliction, and it was only the filming of Disney movie "Miracle of the White Stallions" on this site that finally prompted authorities to renovate the premises. The renovation process lasted 6 years, with attention paid to even the smallest fixtures and fittings. Today the Hermesvilla includes a museum on the upper floors chronicling the history of Vienna fashions, from the corsets and petticoats of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the casual suits of the post-war era, all the way to today's Haute Couture and street styles.

The outdoors at the Hermesvilla are just as incredible for visitors, with views across the Lainzer Tiergarten and towards Vienna, while landscaped pastures, shaded avenues fringed with topiary bushes and elaborate fountains are reason enough to stick around and enjoy the enchanting idyll that is the Hermesvilla.


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