Hofburg Palace Vienna, Austria  © Bwag/cc-by-sa-4.0
Hofburg Palace Vienna, Austria © Bwag/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Hofburg Palace, or Imperial Palace, was the home of the Austrian Hapsburgs for 600 years. The first fortifications were erected by King Ottakar Premyst in the 13th century and were added to by every generation until it became the monumental structure it is today.

As well as housing the president's offices, the palace now encompasses 22 separate museums, the National Library, a 14th-century Augustinian church, the famous Spanish Riding School, and the Royal Chapel, where every Sunday the Vienna Boys Choir sing Mass (they have performed for the Royal Court since 1498).

It will be impossible to even catch a glimpse of everything on display at the Hofburg, so visitors should be selective. The most popular of the museums is the Kaiserappartements, which takes visitors on a tour of the Kaiser's imperial apartments, the Sisi Museum, and the Imperial Silver Collection.

Situated in the Hofburg Palace, the royal library of the Habsburgs dates from the 14th century and is among the oldest and finest libraries in the world. The six million items stored in the library include papyri, manuscripts, ancient and rare books, maps, globes, portraits, music, photographs, and graphics. The Grand Hall is a palatial room topped by a dome, designed in the Baroque style and decorated with statues and exquisite frescoes. It's regarded as one of the most beautiful library rooms in the world.

Address: Innerer Burghof 1, Kaisertor

Website: www.hofburg-wien.at

Telephone: (0)1 533 7570

Transport: U-Bahn to Herrengasse; tram D, J, 1 or 2 to Burgring; bus 2A or 3A to Hofburg

Opening times: Daily 9am to 5.30pm (September to June), 9am to 6pm (July to August).

Admission: €13.90 (adults), €8.20 (children 6-18); other concessions available. Price includes audio guide.