Monday, July 15, 2013

Hapsburg Treasures

Crown of the Austrian Empire
The largest cut emerald in the world? Charlemagne's purse? A narwhal tusk - or perhaps a unicorn's horn? A piece of the True Cross - with a nail hole? A Holy Nail? The oldest chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece? A perfect aquamarine over 2500 carats? The cradle of Napoleon's only son? The Crown of the Holy Roman Emperor?

Not impressed yet? How about...the Holy Grail? ...or at least a very large agate dish that was taken to possibly be the Holy Grail by quite a number of people for quite a long time.

All of these treasures - and treasures surely they are - can be found in the Imperial Schatzkammer in Vienna. As the 'Rough Guide' guide book puts it: "Of all the museums in the Hofburg [this]... is far and away the most rewarding." 

You are invited to take a stroll through just a few of the Austrian Empire's Treasures....

The cradle of Napoleon's son
More info here.

A beautiful cabinet with an exquisite miniature crucifix
carved from a single piece of ivory. It contains - amazingly -
keys of all the tombs of the Austrian archdukes and emperors.

The largest cut emerald in the world: 2680 carats, from Colombia.
The size of a fist, and shaped into a rather ugly snuff box in 1641.

A golden bunch of roses, presented by the Pope to Franz I's wife,
a traditional gift for the 4th Sunday of Lent.
Exquisitely made, with hollow stems detailed with tiny thorns
made from gold shavings. 12 roses symbolise the 12 Apostles,
with a rose for Christ at the top - which is hollow, and would
have held balsam and musk.

An enormous, perfect and beautifully cut aquamarine.

A 2.43 m long tusk of a narwhal, once thought to be
the horn of a unicorn, a sacred symbol of Christ.
Collected by Ferdinand I

The Holy Grail? A 4th-Century agate dish, stolen from Constantinople in 1204.

The agate dish.

A Holy Nail.

The purse of Charlemagne -- said to be filled with
dust soaked with the blood of Christ.

The legendary Holy Lance with which  Roman Centurion pierced
the side of Christ on the cross (probably dates from the 7th century).
Young Adolf Hitler is said to have experienced a mystical revelation
in front of this exhibit.

A piece of the True cross - with nail hole. 

The oldest chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece, a chivalric order dating to 1430.
Emperor Maximilian I became the Grand Master of the order when he
married the only daughter and heir of the Duke of Burgundy in 1477.

The Crown of the Holy Roman Emperor.
Byzantine jewellery, covered in pearls, precious stones and enamelled plaques.
Dates to the coronation of Otto I in 962.
The crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire were
traditionally kept in Nuremberg but were brought to Vienna
in 1796. The Hapsburgs held on to them when the HRE
was abolished in 1806.

Impressed yet?

Read about the history of the collection here.  Enjoy.

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