The plan for the construction of the Upper Belvedere in its current form replaced the primary idea of the construction of a gloriette ‘‘with a beautiful view of the city’’. The construction work took place between 1717 and 1723. The Upper Belvedere primarily had a representative function at the time of the Prince and served as an imperial painting gallery from the second half of 1770’s. For this purpose, the paintings were brought from the Stallberg to the Upper Belvedere after 1776, where they were accessible to the public.
Four powerful atlantes support the stuccoed, vaulted ceiling of the Sala Terrena (ground floor hall). Originally, this room was devised as a single spacious hall but after damage during the winter of 1732/33, the construction of the four columns became essential. The hall opens out to the garden and leads up to the Grand Staircase, thus combining a garden hall and vestibule in one room.
Originally, the main entrance was located on the southern side of the Upper Belvedere and is even recognizable today by the access ramps. From there guests would have walked up the Grand Staircase to the palace’s main floor. Stucco reliefs adorn the walls, showing the triumph of Alexander the Great over Darius on the right wall and the wives of Darius before Alexander on the left. Originally a scene of Alexander severing the Gordian knot was depicted on the ceiling. Problems with the roof construction, however, led to this being removed in the nineteenth century and replaced by the rosette that can still be seen today.
The Carlone Hall, or painted hall, was named after its artist, the north Italian frescoist and itinerant painter Carlo Innocenzo Carlone (1686–1775). He painted the impressive ceiling fresco depicting the Triumph of Aurora (1722/23), while the illusionist architecture was executed by Marcantonio Chiarini and Gaetano Fanti. Originally a cool spot for visitors on hot summer days, this hall’s embellishments have been preserved to this day, while the frescoes in the corresponding hall in the east wing were lost at some later point in time.
Occupying two storeys, the Marble Hall is the Upper Belvedere’s most magnificent room and is also the first room accessed from the staircase. Figures depicted in an engraving suggest that this hall, resplendent in reddish-brown marble and gilding, once served as an antechamber. Above the fireplaces, one can see animal paintings by Ignaz Heinitz von Heinzenthal (returned to their original location in 1963). The frescoes were the work of Carlo Innocenzo Carlone and most probably Marcantonio Chiarini and Gaetano Fanti.
Carlo Innocenzo Carlone painted the ceiling fresco in 1721. It shows the eternal fame of Prince Eugene amidst the princely virtues while History upholds his deeds and Fame praises the same. The illusionist architectural painting was in all likelihood carried out by Gaetano Fanti based on designs by his father-in-law.
The Belvedere’s Marble Hall came to be widely known, as it was here that the Austrian State Treaty was signed on 15 May 1955 by Leopold Figl. Probably the most important event in Austrian post-war history, this re-established Austria as a sovereign state.
Now open to the public, visitors can appreciate the original splendour of the Marble Hall to this day.