‘Es gibt nur a Kaiserstadt, es gibt nur a Wien’ – ‘There’s only one imperial city, there’s only one Vienna’...
Habsburg residences in other cities
The monopoly of Vienna in the life of the Habsburgs during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries often makes us forget that members of the dynasty ruled and resided elsewhere, the title of Johan Strauss II’s polka notwithstanding.
Some Habsburgs turned their backs on the city and deprived Vienna of its status as a royal residence: Frederick III made Wiener Neustadt into his official residence, Rudolf II favoured Prague. This was especially the case after 1500, when the Habsburg domains underwent marked expansion, and rulers like Maximilian I and Ferdinand I had to make their presence felt in the newly-acquired territories. Thus the Habsburg court circulated between various residences. The collateral lines of the Habsburgs, too, established important political and cultural centres, for example at Graz or Innsbruck.
Even when Vienna became the permanent residence, there were also what we might call ‘virtual residences’ at various places in the Monarchy on which the Habsburgs set the symbolic stamp of their dominion. Prague, Pressburg (present-day Bratislava) and later Budapest were the historic nuclei of countries forming the central parts of the Habsburg Monarchy, but which the Habsburgs themselves nonetheless rarely visited.