The Museum of Military History examines the history of the Habsburg Monarchy from the end of the 16th century to the end of the monarchy in 1918, as well as the subsequent years up until 1945. The museum mainly focuses on the role of the army and military history on the high seas.
History of warfare and the military, technology and science, art and architecture are all merged into one in the Museum of Military History. The building alone is phenomenal: the museum was built between 1850 and 1856 under the plans of Ludwig Förster and Theophil Hansen as a centerpiece of the Arsenal military complex. It is therefore the oldest museum in the city. The architects had already anticipated the style of the Ringstrasse: it is dominated by the Moorish-Byzantine and neo-Gothic styles.
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The museum’s main focus is the history of the Habsburg Monarchy up until its disintegration in 1918. In one hall, visitors can see the automobile in which Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne, and his wife were shot in 1914, the Archduke’s blood-soaked uniform jacket and the chaise longue on which he died. In the Franz Joseph Hall are several personal objects which belonged to the Emperor and his son, Crown Prince Rudolf. Additional rooms are dedicated to Prince Eugene, Maria Theresia and numerous wars which Austria fought in (often unsuccessfully). A centerpiece of the collection is the so-called “Marine Hall”: an exhibition on Austria’s history as a naval power. What many people do not know is that when Austria still had access to the seas, it was a major naval power for over 200 years.
Museum of Military History (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum)