Wednesday | 17.1.2018 16:01 | Nameday: Nataša

Strategic partners

Schloss Hof

The grounds of Hof Palace extend over more than 50 hectares of land in eastern Lower Austria. The magnificent ensemble with its lordly palace, beautiful Terraced Garden and idyllic Manor Farm was laid out in the late 1720s as an impressive country home and hunting lodge for Prince Eugene of Savoy. The architect, Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt, was able to draw on practically unlimited resources. His employer, after all, was not only one of the most successful generals but also one of the wealthiest men of his time. Hundreds of labourers, craftsmen and gardeners spent years realising Hildebrandt’s plans. The work was for the most part completed by around 1730, resulting in one of the most impressive Gesamtkunstwerke of the Baroque period in Europe.

Habsburg ownership

The unique beauty of Hof Palace was not lost on Empress Maria Theresa. In 1756 she acquired the complex from Prince Eugene’s heir and presented it as a gift to her husband, Emperor Francis Stephen. The new owner fully appreciated the value of his new possession, and until his death in 1765, the Emperor spent many weeks at Hof Palace every year between spring and late autumn. Here he went deer-stalking, enjoyed elaborate celebrations, or spent time with his immediate family – his wife, Maria Theresa, and their numerous children – “to relieve his soul of the burden of ruling” as it says on an inscription on the Palace façade facing the garden. There were sometimes problems accommodating the entire court, because even during a completely private stay at the Palace, the strict rules of the Vienna court ceremonial prescribed the presence of almost 200 servants. In around 1770, (the meanwhile widowed) Maria Theresa decided to add an additional storey to the building in order to relieve the lack of space. In the course of this work, imperial court architect Franz Anton Hillebrandt decorated the façade and the interior in the rich Classicistic style in vogue at the time, thus giving Hof Palace the appearance it still has today.

Training ground for the Imperial and Royal Army

The generations of Habsburg emperors and archdukes that followed showed little interest in their Marchfeld summer residence and increasingly allowed nature to do its destructive work. In the late 19th century Emperor Francis Joseph turned the complex into a military training ground, and the already heavily damaged imperial splendour almost entirely disappeared. In addition to the wind, weather and weeds, imperial soldiers quartered here along with their horses did little to protect the Baroque Gesamtkunstwerk. But at least the Emperor had been prudent – or thrifty– enough to first remove the furniture. Some 200 wagon-loads of art objects and other furnishings rolled off to the imperial warehouses in Vienna, where for the following two decades the material would provide a rich source for decorating other imperial palaces.

Threatened by decay

Following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Republic of Austria used some of these precious items for decorating government buildings and embassies. Political upheaval had little effect on Hof Palace itself, which remained under military administration. Only the uniforms of the soldiers changed: the Imperial and Royal Cavalry was followed by soldiers of the Austrian Federal Army, then the German Wehrmacht moved in, and in 1945 soldiers of the occupying Red Army took over the Palace for ten years. The open wounds caused by disinterest, inappropriate use and, not least, two world wars were closed only inadequately after 1955. While there was no lack of either good ideas or good will for a complete renovation, financing remained elusive. The three components were finally available in 2002 when a society founded expressly for that purpose undertook restoration of this precious monument of Austrian cultural heritage.

New splendour

In May 2005 restoration work was far enough along that the ensemble could be opened to visitors. Austria’s largest rural palace complex had finally been restored to its former splendour, original dignity and intended purpose as a venue for magnificent celebrations. Hof Palace is again open to would-be time-travellers seeking to explore the world of Prince Eugene and Empress Maria Theresa in a place where they once lived and breathed and to become acquainted with the Baroque lifestyle in a manner that is fascinating, exciting, and far more real than any museum experience.

Bratislava Self-Governing Region

The Bratislava Self-Governing Region is situated in the west-southwest part of Slovakia, forming the smallest region of the country with an area of 2 053 km2. Geographically, this is a very valuable location at the historical crossing of trading routes – Danubian and north-south, the so called “Amber Route”. The region’s central location within the mid-European area, good transport access and the functions of international crossing both in road and railway transport, increasing importance of water and air transport and high rate of economic and social growth are amongst the most important development factors of the Bratislava Region.

The geographical landscape structure is formed by southern part of the Malé Karpaty (Small Carpathians) mountains and Záhorská and Podunajská (Danube) lowlands, bordering with the Trnava Region in the north and east, with Hungary in the south and with Austria in the west. The Morava River forms part of the frontier with Austria, alongside with the second largest European river Danube, which forms 37 km of the frontier. Frontiers with the Czech Republic are situated close to the Region’s border. The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, with its many political, economic and social functions, is the seat of the Bratislava Region.

The Bratislava Region comprises of 73 municipalities; one is the capital Bratislava and 6 towns (Malacky, Stupava, Svätý Jur, Pezinok, Modra, and Senec).

Being the economically best performing region in Slovakia, the Bratislava Region generates approximately 26 % of the country’s GDP. The Bratislava Region exceeds the EU 25 average by 15, 9 % in GDP per capita in purchase power parity. The reiongs economy comprises of all sectors that are based on traditional industrial production of goods; the most important sectors are; the chemical industry, automotive industry, mechanical engineering, electrotechncial and food processing industry.

In recent times the region has become the centre of the European automotive industry, contributing to 30 % of Slovakia’s exports. The current structural changes within the economy of the Region contribute to growth of the tertiary sector, mainly trade and services, banking and insurance sectors. In the long run, Bratislava Region records the lowest unemployment rate among Slovak regions, with the average nominal monthly wage exceeding the overall Slovak average.

Tourism in Bratislava Region is a very important economic sector due to its favourable position. The region’s small area with attractive landscape and a large variety of fascinating natural beauties, and developed infrastructure create a good base for different types of tourist activities. Bratislava, as the natural and outstanding tourism centre of national and international importance, belongs to the mostly visited tourist destinations in the Bratislava Region.The cityoffers activities focusing on history, culture and traditions, with good gastronomy and shopping options, as well as possibilities for congress tourism.

The Danube river area offers water and lakes that are ideal for summer tourism, water sports and fishing. Záhorie possesses fascinating nature, historical monuments and water sport and recreation facilities. The Malé Karpaty (Small Carpathians) area is famous for it’s wine, cultural monuments and traditional crafts.

The Bratislava Self-Governing Region is interlaced with a network of all types of educational facilities; with 158 elementary schools educating 45 302 students, 115 secondary schools educating 39 637 students.

Historical monuments forming an important part of cultural heritage. There are 2 560 immovable national cultural monuments and 1 951 movable monuments registered. “Limes romanus” with roman ancient monuments located on the middle Danube, and “Chatam Sofer Monument” in Bratislava are proposed to be entered on to the World Heritage List.

Three protected natural areas of 47 834 ha are located directly within, or partially extend into, the territory of the Bratislava Region; Protected Natural Areas of Malé Karpaty (Small Carpathians) and Záhorie, and Dunajské luhy (Danube river meadows).

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