“Imperial Vault,” or, “no thanks, just launch my body into an erupting volcano”

Our tour this week was a bit spookier than most, even the one in the graveyard1 – we went down into the Imperial Vault. Which is not, as I initially thought, where they used to store their crown jewels and whatnot – that’s the treasury. No, it’s where they store their dead relatives. Because, y’know, normal graveyards are too passé.

Skull
It’s not as far underground as you’d expect, to be honest, and it’s also a lot more full than you’d expect.
Battle
Oh, and the first room full of coffins? They’re all hilariously ornate.2
Shroud
Seriously, this was, like, a fight scene up there. Why.
Maria Theresia
First place for “most opulent” goes to Maria Theresia, though, who had this double coffin3 surrounded by the coffins of her children.4
Undercroft
Once you get past the baroque coffin room, there’s a more modern coffin room.5
Collection
It’s got an even higher body-density, since people didn’t feel the need to encase themselves in statues.
Franz
The final room of coffins is just past that, and contains the Empress Sisi, Emperor Franz Joseph I,6 and their delightfully scandalous son.7
Ladder
Fortunately, we didn’t only go to the imperial vault – that would’ve been a bit too much ‘dark and depressing’ to go with the rainy weather of the day. We also took a stop at the Imperial Library.8 It’s a gorgeous place – all wood and touches of gold, giving the whole place a nice, warm feel even on the gloomiest of days.
Library
Seriously, if you’re ever in Vienna, check the place out.


  1. Shameless self-promotion? What’re you talking about? 
  2. listen when you’re in a room full of dead bodies you’ve gotta look for the humor in life 
  3. So that, upon her awakening in the afterlife (or something? I’m very unclear on how catholicism works) she wouldn’t be separated from her beloved for even a moment. 
  4. And, off in the corner, being an unassuming source of much court drama, the coffin of her favorite maid. 
  5. I don’t know if there’s a proper term for ‘coffin room’ but I’m sticking with this, dangit 
  6. Pictured 
  7. I’m sticking this in a footnote so that the people who think it’s rude to talk ill of the (long) dead can stop reading now.
    The scandal is basically that he took a mistress, then the two of them ran off to a hunting lodge a short ways outside Vienna, where he shot her and then himself. They wound up covering it up – it wouldn’t do for the son of a Holy Roman Emperor to commit a murder-suicide, now would it? He officially died of a hunting accident, and her body, with a bit of prop work, was walked out of the lodge as if she was just super drunk, then very quietly buried in a small graveyard outside the city. 
  8. Or possibly Palace Library? There’s a lot of different ways to say “WE, YOUR MIGHTY EMPERORS, HAVE BUILT THIS FOR YOU, DEAR PEASANT.”