Highlight 13 of our walk around the Vienna Hofburg is the Volksgarten. In the early modern era, parts of the city wall can be found on the site the Volksgarten occupies today. The oldest stonewall section is the Burgbastei built between 1531 and 1535. Continually extended until 1659, it is connected to the Löwenbastei via a curtain wall around the area of today’s Burgtheater. This part of the city’s fortifications is much fought over during the Turkish Siege of 1683. When Emperor Napoleon leaves behind a conquered Vienna in 1809, he has the Burgbastei blown up. This creates the area upon which Emperor Francis I of Austria – with the supervision of court architect Ludwig von Remy - has an “outer palace square” – now Heldenplatz - as well as two gardens laid. Today’s Burggarten is designed as an imperial, private garden, while the Volksgarten is commissioned as a public park.
On March 1st, 1823 the strictly geometric, triangular core of the park is formally opened. The court gardener, Franz Antoine the Elder, is in charge of its landscaping. In the mid-19th century, the park is expanded.
As of 1822, the Volksgarten and the neighbouring Paradeisgartl on the site of today’s Burgtheater boast two summer cafés which become extremely popular meeting places for the Viennese bourgeoisie. Both of these lucrative cafés are built by Peter Corti, owner of a coffeehouse on Josefsplatz.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the planned expansion of the Vienna Hofburg threatens the existence of the much-loved public park. According to plans by the Ringstraße architects Gottfried Semper and Carl von Hasenauer, part of the Kaiserforum is to be built here. As the project is only partially realised, the Volksgarten retains its modern-day appearance.
Today, the Volksgarten is one of seven gardens for which the Republic of Austria is responsible. Since 2001 it has also been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “The Historic Centre of Vienna”. By the way, the famous roses in Vienna’s Volksgarten are not historic. The large rose bed with over a hundred varieties was not laid until after World War 2.