“If I could wish for immortality on earth, it would only be for the power of relieving the distressed.”

Exterior of the Capuchin Church
Exterior of the Capuchin Church
Interior of the Capuchin Church
Interior of the Capuchin Church

As I mentioned yesterday, the Habsburgs, the ruling dynasty for the Austro-Hungarian empire, had some unique and specific burial practices. Their organs were interred at Stephansdom, but their bodies were entombed in the Imperial Crypt at the Capuchin Church. The Capuchin Church itself is lovely but not spectacular – it’s rather plain from the outside actually. But when you get into the crypts, you see the might and wealth of the Habsburgs on display. Row after row of emperors, empresses and their families line the walls in varying degrees of opulence.

The most opulent sarcophagus award goes to Empress Maria Theresa.

Maria Theresa's tomb - Francis I is in there, too.
Maria Theresa’s tomb – Francis I is in there, too.
Another view of Maria Theresa's tomb
Another view of Maria Theresa’s tomb

It’s hard to talk about Vienna’s history or indeed the history of the Habsburgs without talking about this lady. She’s probably most famous today as Marie Antoinette’s mother, but there was a lot more to her life and accomplishments. She ruled the Habsburg Empire in her own right for over 40 years, winning a war of succession to retain her throne after her father’s death. She was also Holy Roman Empress by her marriage to Francis I. During her reign, she gave birth to 16 children, 2 of whom became emperors, 2 became queens and one Duchess of Parma. Maria Theresa made many financial,  educational and military reforms during her reign, though she was not a fan of religious tolerance.

Detail on Maria Theresa's tomb
Detail on Maria Theresa’s tomb
A unique Pieta at the entrance to the Crypts
A unique Pieta at the entrance to the Crypts
Detail on Maria Theresa's tomb
Detail on Maria Theresa’s tomb
Detail on Maria Theresa's tomb
Detail on Maria Theresa’s tomb
Detail on Maria Theresa's tomb
Detail on Maria Theresa’s tomb
Several of the tombs in the alcove with Maria Theresa
Several of the tombs in the alcove with Maria Theresa
View of the inside of the first section of the crypts
View of the inside of the first section of the crypts
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of the tombs
Detail of the tombs
Some of the tomb decorations are quite macabre
Some of the tomb decorations are quite macabre
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
Crypt13
Several of the tombs in the first section
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
One of the tombs
One of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
Detail of one of the tombs
More simple tombs. The most recent burial, that of Otto von Habsburg, which took place in 2011, is in this room.
More simple tombs. The most recent burial, that of Otto von Habsburg, which took place in 2011, is in this room.
Some of the simpler tombs in the crypt
Some of the simpler tombs in the crypt
Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth's tombs
Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth’s tombs
Detail of some of the things left at Elisabeth's tomb - she is widely known as Sissi and widely loved.
Detail of some of the things left at Elisabeth’s tomb – she is widely known as Sissi and widely loved.

It should also be noted that KW and I have a habit of going on zany adventures together. We had tea in the Crypt at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, visited the Pony Express Museum and Jesse James House (See the Bullet Hole!) in St. Joseph, MO, and toured Graceland (Taking Care of Business in a Flash!) in Memphis, TN. Visiting the Imperial Crypt in Vienna seemed like the logical next step.

Title quote: Empress Maria Theresa

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s