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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Schloss Eggenberg

Schloss Eggenberg in Graz is the most significant Baroque palace complex in Styria. It is also called as Eggenberg Palace which is the famous tourist attraction and travel destination. The details of Schloss Eggenberg is explained in world tour guides today. With its preserved accouterments, the extensive scenic gardens as well as some additional collections from the Universal Museum Joanneum housed in the palace and park, Schloss Eggenberg counts among the most valuable cultural assets of Austria. With its construction and accouterment history, it exhibits the vicissitude and patronage of the one-time mightiest dynasty in Styria, the House of Eggenberg.

Schloss EggenbergThe palace lies on the western edge of the Styrian capital of Graz. The northern corner of the palace grounds features the Planetary Garden and Lapidarium of Roman stonework as well as the entrance to the new Archeological Museum, which houses the Cult Wagon of Strettweg. The numismatic collection, located in the former rooms of Balthasar Eggenberger, owner of the imperial minting license and operations in the Late Middle Ages, and the show collection of the Alte Galerie, a collection of medieval through early modern period artworks spanning 5 centuries of European art history are also housed in the palace itself.

At first glance Schloss Eggenberg presents itself as a uniform, new construction of the 17th century. In 1666, Johann Seyfried von Eggenberg, grandson of Hans Ulrich, developed palace according to splendor and grandeur of Baroque style. In 1673 the residence entered limelight as Archduchess Claudia Felicitas of Tyrol was a guest in palace on occasion of her wedding in Graz to Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. Under Prince Johann Seyfried, the comprehensive cycle of ceiling coverings of approximately 600 paintings in the rooms of piano nobile was accomplished in just 7 years. Hans Adam Weissenkircher began his service as court painter of princely Eggenberger court in 1678 finished the painting cycle of main festival hall, famous Planetary Room, in 1684/85. With this, the first phase of accouterment work on Schloss Eggenberg was completed.

The building and the garden underwent their second major phase of ornamentation, this time in complete accordance with the tastes of the Rococo in between 1754 and 1762 . The accouterment of the piano nobile was modernized. The Planetary Room and the entire cycle of ceiling paintings remained almost unchanged. Thus the works limited themselves to wall decorations, stoves and pieces of furniture. In keeping with the taste of the times, three East Asian cabinets were introduced and the state rooms received new wall coverings. The most extensive change was probably the demolition of the Eggenberger palace theater, in the place of which a baroque palace church was established.

The third phase of the changes came during the 19th century and was limited to the living quarters on the 1st storey or 2nd floor of the palace. The piano nobile remained untouched and unused for a full century. The primary focus of attention of this period was the total transformation of the Baroque formal garden into a romantic landscape garden after the English fashion. The entire complex remained in the possession of the Herberstein family up to 1939. Shortly before the war, Schloss Eggenberg was acquired with the park by the state of Styria. The oldest museum in Austria, the Joanneum, which was established on November 26th, 1811 by Archduke Johann of Austria, took over management of the palace and park.

Schloss Eggenberg relies on the Gregorian calendar as a basis for this constructed universe. The palace has 365 exterior windows, one for each day of the year. Of these, 52 are on the 24 rooms of the piano nobile representing the weeks of one year. The 2nd storey contains 24 state rooms in a ring shaped arrangement which symbolize the hours in a single day. Every floor in the building bares exactly 31 rooms counting the maximum number of days in a calendar month. The 52 windows of the piano nobile with the 8 windows of the Planetary Room make a total of 60, representing both the number of seconds in a minute and the minutes in an hour.

The various owners and builder-owners have always looked at the palace and at the surrounding gardens as corresponding elements. Every succeeding generation has carried significant alterations. The largest expansion of the garden occurred after the completion of the house. In the last third of the 17th century the garden was generously extended around the building. It followed the pattern of the strictly subdivided Italian garden, with parterres, bosquet areas, fountains, aviaries and pheasant gardens.Johann Leopold Count Herberstein allowed the whole arrangement to be reshaped into a French garden. As early as the 1770’s, the Eggenberg Gardens were an attraction open to the Grazer public.

Schloss EggenbergSchloss Eggenberg
The early 20th century saw a dwindling of interest in the palace gardens and the Eggenberg Schloss Park no longer employed a gardener. This had the unfortunate consequences of singular elements of the garden being torn-out and, over the course of decades, the rest being overgrown; the entire arrangement thus becoming more or less a simple city park. Additionally, the peacocks from the Graz Peacock Garden formerly located between the inner city and the city park have found a new home in the Eggenberg Schloss Park. The species are of both the white variety and the more common Indian blue peacock.

In the north corner of the grounds, an enclosed, separate garden went through such diverse transformations and uses over the course of palace history that in end it was discernible only by the spatial structure. Schloss Eggenberg enters the 21st century with the opening of a newly constructed subterranean showroom adjoined to the Lapidarium to house the Joanneums Pre and Early History archaeological Collections in autumn of 2009 to be ready for the Joanneums bicentennial celebration in 2011. In 2002, the Austrian Mint honored the importance of Schloss Eggenberg, by using it as the main motif of one of its most popular silver euro commemorative coins: the 10 euro Eggenberg Palace commemorative coin. The reverse side shows an image of Johannes Kepler, a personal acquaintance of Eggenberg who taught at the former Protestant school in Graz. His first major work, Mysterium Cosmographicum describing the Copernican system, written while he was still in Graz, likely had an impact on the symbolism of the design of the palace.

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