In the middle of the nature reserve Lainzer Tiergarten, the former imperial hunting area, there is a stately building: the Hermesvilla. The castle was built between 1882 and 1886 by Emperor Franz Joseph I for his wife, Empress Elisabeth.
The late romantic villa, which was originally called Villa Waldruh, was planned by the architect Carl von Hasenauer. The “Castle of Dreams” is still named after the Hermes statue commissioned by Empress Elisabeth in 1885 in the garden of the property.
The emperor’s plan to have his travel-loving wife around him often thanks to the gift from the Hermes Villa on the outskirts of the city did not work out entirely. The Empress mostly stayed away from the Viennese court, but paid a visit to the villa every year in early summer from 1887 to 1889.
The stately interior design of the building is based on the designs of the painter Hans Makart. Alongside him, a number of well-known artists designed the rooms of the villa, including Gustav Klimt, Franz Matsch, August Eisenmenger and Rudolf Geyling, whose works have been preserved to this day.
In addition to parts of the original furnishings, the empress’s bedroom features a wall painting inspired by Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
The “Association of Friends of the Hermes Villa”, which was launched on November 4, 1969, underwent a complete restoration of the Hermes Villa from 1970 to 1974. In the course of the 1970s, the house was slowly opened to the public. In 1979 the Hermes Villa became a branch of the Historical Museum.
Exhibitions in the castle of dreams
As part of the permanent exhibition “Sisi’s Castle of Dreams – The Hermes Villa and its History”, visitors can marvel at the private living quarters of the imperial couple. The splendid bed of the Empress from the times of Maria Theresa and the sculpture “Melancholy”, which was made in honor of Crown Prince Rudolf, who died in 1889, as well as other personal items, have been preserved in the original.
The exhibition also contains numerous plans, documents and photos from the times of the imperial couple, which tell the story of the villa and its inhabitants. You can even visit the empress’s gymnastics room.
In addition to the permanent exhibition, there are regular special exhibitions on the premises.
Opening times and admission
The Hermes Villa is open from the end of March to the end of October, Tuesday to Sunday and on public holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tip: Every first Sunday of the month is free admission for all visitors.
Arrival and location of the villa
Adresse: inside Lainzer Tiergarten, 1130 Vienna
Accessibility: The castle can be reached, for example, via the approximately one kilometer long nature trail starting from the Lainzer Tor. For people with disabilities, a corresponding shuttle service is offered on certain days.
More information about the opening times of the villa