12TH GPDF 2020 - THE VENUE
IMPERIAL PALACE VIENNA
Where history is made
Over a period of 700 years, Austria’s rulers constantly enlarged the Hofburg, gradually transforming it into a majestic imperial residence. In the same spaces where monarchs once held court, today the Hofburg Vienna holds a unique appeal as an international event centre. Each room at the Hofburg is steeped in history. In 2017 the 300th anniversary of the birth of Empress Maria Theresa and the 180th anniversary of Empress Elisabeth’s birth will provide a fitting reminder of the bygone imperial era. It was in the Hofburg Vienna’s Rittersaal that Maria Theresa was baptised in a traditional ceremony on 15 May 1717. The font was set with precious gems and filled with holy water, to which five drops of water from the River Jordan were added. The Austrian matriarch commissioned a full refurbishment of the wing containing the Redoutensaele in 1744 and hosted numerous concerts and masquerade balls (Redouten) there. It was here that Ludwig van Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony was first performed, and a series of Mozart’s smaller-scale operas were premiered.
Today the Zeremoniesaal provides a reminder of the Maundy Thursday customs which saw Emperor Franz Joseph I and his Empress, Elisabeth, personally wash the feet of 12 elderly men and 12 elderly women to convey their bond with the people and their love for them. This ritual was performed in deference to religious tradition and was seen as a gesture of humility by the ruling couple. Today the space is a popular location for international scientific and business congresses and meetings.