The 2,450-hectare Lainzer Tiergarten, which is surrounded by a 22-kilometre long wall, is located on the northern edge of the Wienerwald (and thus the eastern border of the Alps) in Hietzing, the 13th district of Vienna.
The hunting and wildlife preserve is home to red deer, fallow deer, roe deer, European mouflons (horned wild sheep) and wild boars, as well as numerous bats. Visitors can also admire local woody plants in the arboretum.
Originally settled by the Romans, this area was used for hunting by the Babenberg dynasty in the 11th century. Emperor Ferdinand I bought the land, had a fence built around it in 1561 and declared it to be imperial hunting grounds, which is what it remained until the end of the monarchy in 1918.
During the reign of Emperor Charles VI, Lainzer Tiergarten was regarded as the “finest game park in Europe.” Emperor Joseph II hired master builder Philipp Schlucker to erect a stone wall instead of a wood fence to prevent the animals from damaging the neighbouring vineyards. Master builder Schlucker, however, made a mistake in estimating the construction costs, so he had to build the wall for much less than the actual costs – and this is where the German phrase “armer Schlucker” (“poor devil”) comes from.
Today Lainzer Tiergarten is open to the public year-round and is a popular recreation area. Lainzer Tiergarten also includes the “Rohrhaus” and “Hirschgstemm” restaurants, “Café Hermesvilla,” “Hubertuswarte” observation tower and the Hermesvilla museum.
Hermesvilla is a palace in Lainzer Tiergarten and was built in 1881 by Emperor Joseph I for his wife Empress Elisabeth, also known as “Sissi.” It used to house, among other things, a riding school, as the Empress was very athletic and loved horseback riding.
The imperial couple often stayed in Hermesvilla in late spring, so it’s no surprise that Hermesstraße, which leads directly to the palace, was one of the first streets in Vienna to receive electric lighting at the end of the 19th century .
Hermesvilla is popular with visitors not only because of the changing exhibitions, but also thanks to the originally restored residential rooms of Empress “Sissi,” including her exercise room in which she did gymnastics. Hermesvilla’s reputation also stems from its paintings, for instance, due to the ceiling fresco in the salon which was painted, among others, by Gustav Klimt.
Hermesvilla won international fame when it was chosen in 1963 as the location for Disney’s adaptation of the Miracle of the White Stallions. The film deals with the evacuation of the Lippizaner stallions of the Spanish Riding School after the Second World War by US troops.