The Butterfly House - Location and History
The Hofburg - a Location full of History
The Butterfly House is situated in the centre of Vienna, a town full of splendour and history. Right next to the Butterfly House you find the Hofburg, residence of the Habsburg family, from the 13th century until 1918 and the fall of the monarchy. Over the centuries the Hofburg has witnessed important historical and political events in Austria and all over Europe. During the 18th century, the `Reform Emperor´, Josef II created his modernization programmes here. In 1814-1815, the Vienna Congress took place in the Hofburg and the Emperor Franz Josef I lived here with his famous spouse, Empress Elisabeth, also known as Sisi. The Hofburg has also seen darker days. In 1938, Adolf Hitler announced the annexation of Austria to Germany, from the balcony of the Neuen Burg.
Also today the Hofburg is the centre of Vienna’s political life. The President of Austria resides in the Hofburg and the Prime Minister’s office is located inside the vast building complex. The OSCE also has a permanent representation in the Hofburg.
Burggarten - The Hofburg Palace Gardens
The Burggarten, formerly known as the Emperor’s Garden, was created in 1819. It was constructed on top of the foundations of a former fortified compound, the Augustinerschanze. After the destruction of the fortification, Emperor Franz I asked the architect Ludwig Gabriel von Remy to plan and the court gardener Franz Antoine the Elder, to create a garden. The `Flower Emperor´ Joseph II, a trained and enthusiastic gardener, allowed himself to participate in the work. The garden created in this fashion, served the Emperor as his private garden, where he and his family could find privacy and relaxation. In 1848, Emperor Franz Joseph I enlarged the garden and rebuilt it, creating an English landscape garden. In 1919 the park was opened to the public and the Viennese of today, very much enjoy the green oasis in the middle of town.
In the Burggarten there are also several monuments, appreciated particularly by many tourists. The most famous is the Mozart monument, but you can also find Goethe and Emperor Franz Joseph I, in the park.
The Palm House in the Burggarten
As the Burggarten was created, a classical greenhouse also designed by Ludwig Gabriel von Remy was constructed. The back wall of the greenhouse was comprised of the old city walls. When the old building was torn down at the end of the century, the current Palm House was built. The building, designed by Friedrich Ohmann, stood ready in 1901. The structure, 128 meters long and with a floor area of around 2.000 square metres took five years to build. The Emperor used his greenhouse mainly for recreation and enjoyed working with his plants and flowers. Today the Palm House is an important tourist attraction housing not only the Butterfly House, but also a wonderful café and space for the overwintering of plants.
In 1988 the Palm House had to be closed for renovation as the building was deemed unsafe. After the renovations in 1998 the Palm House was again opened to the public, in its former glory. It is a true architectural gem and one of the most notable `Jugendstil´ palm houses of its era.
The Butterfly House - Institutional History
In 1989, Stephen Fried approached Peter Fischer Colbrie, the former director of the Austrian Federal Gardens with the idea of establishing a Butterfly House in the Sonnenuhrenhaus, one of the greenhouses in the Schönbrun Palace gardens. Stephen Fried had already established several butterfly houses in Europe. The largest of these is located in Haga Park, Stockholm, Sweden. Stephen Fried, being Austrian by birth was particularly interested in establishing a Butterfly House in Vienna.
The project met with the approval of the Ministry of Life and the cooperation project was initiated. The Butterfly House was first opened in the Sonnenuhrenhaus, on the 1st of May, 1990. It proved to be an immediate and overwhelming success.
The Butterfly House thrived in this location until 1997, when the historic building had to be closed for restoration. The Butterfly House moved to its current home in the Hofburg at the end of 1998.The interior of one part of the newly restored Palm House was designed specifically as a butterfly house, with waterfalls, large trees and exotic plants. The Butterfly House has proved to be a major attraction in the centre of Vienna and is now a well established and permanent fixture, providing a wonderful visitor experience for the Viennese and tourists alike. The Schmetterlinghaus is a joint project between the Republic of Austria and Stephen Fried GmbH. Brigitte Mang, the current director of the Federal Gardens of Austria, is an enthusiastic supporter of the Schmetterlinghaus project, fully engaging her department together with Stephen Fried, in the well being and development of the Imperial Butterfly House. The Schmetterlinghaus has now become one of the established tourist attractions of Vienna and an excellent example of co-operation between public and private institutions for the benefit of all.