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The Great Voyage of the Habsburgs


The age of the Habsburgs, history and art in the Hungarian part of the monarchy (1526 – 1918)

Study tour

This adventure in search of art will provide an interesting picture of the maturing of Late Gothic period and unique examples of Late Renaissance art and Mannerism, which was manifested in the works from the Protestant milieu. A picture of European Baroque and Rococo up to local Art Nouveau. Naturally, our quest begins by exploring the art of Vienna. On the territory of present day Slovakia we will encounter the interesting culture of the Habsburg age – the art of their aristocratic supporters and opponents. We will then venture south, where our voyage will conclude in Budapest.


Day 1 (Saturday)

Arrival and accommodation in Vienna


Day 2 (Sunday)

Vienna– visit to a new exposition: Kunstkammer in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and the exposition Treasures of the Habsburgs in Hoffburg followed by a tour of aristocratic palaces and the most typical Baroque religious buildings. Our tour will be enriched by an expert museum lecturer and art historian from Vienna University. (2nd night in Vienna)


Day 3 (Monday)

Arrival in Bratislava, the capital of Hungary for three centuries – sightseeing of monuments connected with the Habsburg era, including Bratislava Castle which served as the governor’s seat of the Habsburgs in Hungary and after its Baroque reconstruction (after 1760) the seat of Maria Christine, daughter of Maria Theresa, and her husband Albert Kazimierz of Teschen (collection of Albertina graphic works!). We will also pay a visit to the cathedral which from 1563 to 1830 was the Hungarian coronation church. 11 kings and 8 royal wives, all of the Habsburg family, were crowned here. We will pass city palaces built by the aristocracy to serve as seats during parliament sessions and coronation ceremonies and the archbishop’s palace. We will also see the Blue Church, the most interesting example of Hungarian Art Nouveau. In the afternoon we will travel to Nitra and visit the Bishop’s Castle whose fortification is evidence of the dramatic events on the Hungarian – Ottoman border, and the cathedral with its quality Vienna Baroque works. Accommodations in the town of Trnava.


Day 4 (Tuesday)

We will visit the castle of Červený kameň (Biebersburg).  In 1542, it was transformed by the Fugger family into a perfect Renaissance fortress according to the design of Albrecht Dürer, the “Leonardo of the North.”  We will also see unique Baroque spaces, which were decorated by an Italian master commissioned by the aristocrat Nicolaus Pálffy (heroic commander of the battle against the Turks near Raab). The Empire castle in Dolná Krupá was created by Viennese artists, and during one of Beethoven’s visits here, he composed part the melody for the Moonlight Sonata. In the afternoon we will take a tour of unique Baroque monuments in Trnava which during the Turkish occupation of central Hungary was the most significant religious center and a university seat. An organ concert will be organized especially for us in the evening (2nd night in Trnava).


Day 5  (Wednesday)

We will travel through the wide Váh River valley to the town of Trenčín with its noteworthy castles and learn of its fate at the time of the Habsburg’s power and the seat of the Illésházy family loyal to the emperor. In the Piarist Church we will see the art work of Viennese artists (Tausch, Pozzo). Then we will pay a visit to the site of the castle in the town of Bytča which was the work of the Thurzo family. Juraj Thurzowas an important councilor to the imperial court, particularly the court of Rudolf II., in addition to being Palatine of the Hungarian Kingdom, and a scholar. Catholic rulers respected him as a follower of the Reformation and the Evangelical church in the territory of Slovakia credit him for the definitive form of the church (synod in Žilina in 1610). We will also encounter the late Renaissance art program commissioned by the Thurzo family at the bizarre Orava Castle, particularly in the chapel.  At the end of the day we will visit the late Renaissance, wooden Evangelical church in the mountain village of Leštiny, which is surprising in terms of its artistic features, and where we will experience the legacy of the Zmeškal family. Mikuláš Zmeškal was the director of the court office in Vienna and a friend and promoter of Ludwig van Beethoven. Arrival in the Spiš region in the evening. Accommodations in the mountain village of Starý Smokovec at the Grand Hotel, an example of Austro-Hungarian Jugendstill and Art Deco.


Day 6 (Thursday)

In the morning a short visit to the parish church in Spišská Sobota, where the Gothic interior was complemented by late Renaissance and Baroque works. Before noon, a tour of the sights of the town of Kežmarok (castle of the Thököly family, typical Spiš Renaissance bell tower, world famous wooden church); visit to the church in Ľubica, which was rebuilt in the Baroque period. Then on to Levoča, where we will focus on monuments of late Gothic European significance; however, in a special way they are connected with the situation during the reign of the Habsburgs – enhancement of the late Gothic interior of the parish church of St. Jacob and the church of St. Ladislav by Renaissance and Baroque works, interior of the city hall, Evangelical church, facades of the houses. In the late afternoon we will see the site of the castle in Markušovce, the family seat of the aristocratic Mariássy family. This Renaissance castle was rebuilt in Rococo style and enhanced by a musical pavilion in 1774 on the occasion of the planned visit of the emperor Joseph II. A music and furniture museum is situated there now. A small concert will be organized for us in the pavilion. Accommodations in Spišská Nová Ves.


Day 7 (Friday)

On our way east we will stop at the Renaissance Fričovce chateau; its attic with the Renaissance sgraffito figures of historic personalities is one of the most significant historical sights.  We will also visit the chateau in Humenné, a monument to the Hungarian (originally French) Drugeth family and later the Csáky family, which we already encountered in the Spiš region. In addition to other wall paintings in the regional style, we will see a depiction of the apotheoses of Empresses Maria Theresa. In the museum exposition  next to the chateau we will see the wooden church from the village of Zboj – a typical monument of Byzantine culture in the Eastern Carpathians that belonged to the Hungarian part of the monarchy.  In a certain sense, the preservation of this culture is related to the policy of the imperial court in Vienna. In the afternoon we will see the sights of Prešov, perhaps the most dramatic location of the encounter of the political interests of the imperial court, the town and the rebellious Hungarian aristocracy, and the site of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.  Renaissance architecture also flourished here and today it is a significant scholarly center of the Evangelical and Greco-Catholic churches. We will visit the Evangelical church (17th and 18th century) and meet a Church representative at a lecture and discussion regarding history and the system of education.  Accommodations in Prešov.


Day 8(Saturday)

The morning tour of selected sights in nearby Košice will be followed by a trip to the monastery in Jasov. It features a unique Baroque interior with wall paintings by the important Austrian painter Kracker and a gallery of saints by sculptor Kraus in the church. In the afternoon we will travel to Krásna Hôrka Castle which has a significant anti-Turkish fortification and then to the museum of the aristocratic Andrássy family and their legendary romantic chateau in the village of Betliar. In the evening we will travel to the mining town of Banská Štiavnica. Accommodations.


Day 9 (Sunday)

Banská Štiavnica – tour of this famous mining town and the monuments of the imperial visit – New Castle, the Renaissance anti-Turkish gun tower with the exposition of battles and protection against Turks – Old Castle, anti-Turkish fortress transformed into the Renaissance fortress – Kammerhof, a complex of buildings with a museum of mining history and the royal, imperial residence in this unique town (officials of the royal chamber had seats in Kammerhof and Berggericht). In the afternoon we will visit the chateau in Svätý Anton, which was the seat of the Coburg family and a noteworthy museum exposition of collections. Return to Banská Štiavnica.  


Day 10(Monday)

We will see Bzovík Castle on the way from Banská Štiavnica. Originally it was a monastery that was transformed into a noteworthy anti-Turkish fortress. Our travels will lead us to the territory of present day Hungary to visit an important residence: the chateau in Gödöllő. It was built after 1733 by Count Anton Grassalkovich, the king’s representative, president of the Hungarian Royal Chamber and councilor of Maria Theresa. After 1867, the residence of the Hungarian crown was also used by the Viennese Court. Empress Elizabeth (Sissi) was a frequent guest. Arrival and accommodations in Budapest.


Days 11 and 12 (Tuesday, Wednesday)

Budapest– tour of sights from the period of the empire-royal monarchy. This particularly pertains to the unique structures of the last century of the monarchy, when the capital Budapest set on the successful path of catching up with other European imperial metropolises. This was also reflected in the number of museums and sights. Local experts will provide a rich program for us; we will also use the services of a comfortable sightseeing bus.       


Day 13(Thursday)

Budapest– free program, trip to Esztergom in the afternoon, where we will visit the castle and cathedral. This is the most significant site of Hungarian church and cultural history. We will also see the museum of Christian art. We will then travel to Komárno, another town on the Danube. Its military fortress, which is the largest in the Central Europe and was built in the Middle Ages, is legendary. Its huge scale made it one of the most important fortresses against the Turks. It was also the location of the last anti-Habsburg revolution in 1849. Evening arrival and accommodations in Bratislava.


Day 14 (Friday)

Return home through Vienna.



The price of the tour covers:

  • A qualified guiding service
  • Travel from Vienna, around Slovakia and back to Vienna in a comfortable bus
  • Expert guiding by a renowned art-historian
  • 13x accommodation in double and single rooms in three/four star hotels and guesthouses
  • simpli-half-board, (i.e. breakfast and lunch) in carefully selected stylish restaurants - 13x breakfast, 12x lunch

The price of the tour does not include the following:

  • drinks
  • entrance fees
  • contributions
  • insurance
  • charges for taking pictures in museums and monuments
  • individual transportation from the residence to the point of departure

Tour price

The price for the tour SR HAB 14 is 1 372 Euro per person in double room,

Extra charge for a single room is 257 Euro.

For tours of the type Group tours and VIP tours the price is calculated individually


Dates for groups – by appointment

Dates for VIP – by appointment

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