Michaelerplatz is a public square in Vienna, located at the southwest corner of the Hofburg palace. Michaelerplatz is at the intersection of Herrengasse, Kohlmarkt, and Reitschulgasse.
The square is named after the archduke of Austria-Este, specifically Archduke Michael, who reigned from 1848 to his death in 1867.
The square was originally part of the palace complex and was known as the Michaelerhof. In 1857, the square was redesigned by Austrian architect Karl Hasenauer.
Today, Michaelerplatz is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vienna. Many tourist walking routes start or pass through the square and it is also popular for horse carriage rides (one of the ‘fiaker’ main stops in Vienna).
Michaelerplatz is a landmark in its own right, but it is also home to several interesting and important landmarks in Vienna. Here is a list:
Attractions and landmarks at Michaelerplatz
St. Michael Church
The Romanesque period saw the beginning of building on the Habsburg imperial and royal parish of St. Michael, which was completed around 1200. Three entry arches dating back to between the years 1220 and 1250 demonstrate that the building began in the first year.
The Gothic additions were constructed between the years 1340 and 1450. The cross chapel is a typical structure from this time period. Beginning in the middle of the 16th century and continuing until 1784, the cemetery was bypassed in favor of the crypt of St. Michael, also known as Michaelergruft. There are still numerous tombstones and caskets to attest to this. Visitors can take advantage of guided tours.
The Ausgrabungen, or “excavations,” of Michaelerplatz are a time capsule preserving no less than 1,500 years of Viennese history, from the Roman Imperial Period all the way up to the early 20th century. After their uncovering in 1990, the ruins became a permanent exhibit at the Wien Museum, designed by famous architect Hans Hollein and showcasing the remnants of multiple buildings.
The city of Vienna was formerly known as the Roman legionary camp Vindobona, hence the earliest ruins date back to that time period. The ancient canabae, a military settlement, has been found among the ruins.
On top of these relics are the ruins of homes from the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, as well as Renaissance-era walls that originally surrounded the palace’s “Paradise Garden.” These will, without a doubt, provide insight into Vienna’s long and illustrious history.
The side of the palace with the Spanish Riding School and Sisi Museum is facing Michaelerplatz. This spectacular view is making this square one of the most monumental in Vienna. Many guided tours pass through the arches of Hofburg Palace moving from landmark to landmark.
The Looshaus is widely considered a masterpiece of Wiener Moderne architecture. This structure represents a break with historicism and the ornamentalism of the Vienna Secession. Its appearance was shocking to the people of Vienna, whose tastes were still heavily rooted in the past. People referred to it as “the house without eyebrows” since there were no decorative features on the exterior.
Power on Land fountain
Each side of the Hofburg walls has one monumental fountain. “Power on Land” (“Macht zu Lande”), was sculpted by Edmund Hellmer. The Austrian ruling power on land is symbolized by a male ruler who stands still. With a sword in his left hand and his right arm raised, a wildly charging fiend is repelled. A fallen titan is attacked by a mighty eagle. On the right edge of the well, a snake is wriggling out of the blasted earth.
Power at Sea fountain
The marble figures encircling a ship are an allegory for the Austro-Hungarian Empire marines. The ensemble was created by Rudolf Weyr in 1897. The Austrian sovereign power at sea is represented by the 4m high, graceful, a female figure “Austria” as the queen of the sea with a crown on her head, while the god of the sea Neptune calmly looks down on the turmoil with the trident in hand. A mighty Triton and a sea monster emerge through the surf to charge at the ship.
Michaelerplatz is a must-see landmark in Vienna. And not only because it is a very popular place to visit, but because it embodies several individual Vienna attractions within its perimeter. It is also a crossroad between several popular streets, such as Herrengasse, Kohlmarkt, and Reitschulgasse.
How to get there
This attraction is in the city center and is reachable on foot. Nearest public transport stops are buses 1A/2A (Michaelerplatz) and U1 (Herrengasse) subway.