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.
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.
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