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Elisabeth of Austria was the wife of Franz Joseph I, and therefore both Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary. She also held the titles of Queen of Bohemia and Croatia, among others. From an early age, she was called Sisi by family and friends.
|Tenure||24 April 1854 – 10 September 1898
(44 years, 149 days)
|Coronation||8 June 1867|
|Spouse||Franz Joseph I of Austria|
Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria
|Born||24 December 1837, Munich|
|Died||10 September 1898 (aged 60)
Assassinated in Geneva
Born in Munich, Bavaria. Elisabeth accompanied her mother and her 18-year-old sister, Helene, on a trip to the resort of Bad Ischl in 1852, Upper Austria , where they hoped Helene would attract the attention of their cousin, 23-year-old Franz Joseph, then Emperor of Austria. Instead, Franz Joseph chose Elisabeth, and the couple were married in Vienna at St. Augustine’s Church on April 24, 1854.
Elisabeth later wrote that she regretted accepting his proposal for the rest of her life. Elisabeth had difficulty adapting to the strict etiquette practiced at the Habsburg Court. Nevertheless she bore the Emperor three children in quick succession: Archduchess Sophie of Austria (1855–1857), Archduchess Gisela of Austria (1856–1932), and the hoped-for crown prince, Rudolf (1858–1889). In 1860 she left Vienna after contracting a lung-disease which was presumably psychosomatic.
She spent the winter in Madeira and only returned to Vienna after having visited the Ionian Islands. Soon after that she fell ill again and returned to Corfu. After that Elisabeth began to use her beauty to gain influence on her husband. She achieved her only political goal whereby in 1867 she and Franz Joseph were crowned King and Queen of Hungary, and ten months later, another child Archduchess Marie Valerie of Austria (1868–1924) followed.
Although Elisabeth had a limited influence on Austro-Hungarian politics, she became a historical icon. The Empress is now thought to have been a non-conformist who abhorred conventional court protocol, as well as a free spirit who valued an individual sense of freedom above anything else. Following the suicide of her son, Rudolf, she withdrew from public life. Her murder by an anarchist in Geneva, Switzerland in 1898 ended the life of a woman who has since become known as an enigmatic and tragic figure.
Beautiful and celebrated Empress Elisabeth has long since become a cult figure. The Sisi Museum in the Imperial Apartments of the Imperial Palace compares the myth and the facts.
Among the highlights are numerous personal objects once owned by Elisabeth as well as the most famous portraits of the beautiful empress.
Elisabeth’s private life is at the center of the exhibition: her rebellion against court ceremony, her escape into a beauty cult, her obsession with being slim, athletic performance, and effusive poetry.
From the carefree time as a young girl in Bavaria to the surprising engagement with the Austrian emperor to her 1898 assassination in Geneva, the museum shows the restless life of the legendary empress.
In the Imperial Apartments and the Silver Collection you get a good impression of the daily life of the empire. And at the Hofburg Café you can pamper yourself with culinary delights.
Hofburg 1010 Wien