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Museum of Military History (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum)

Museum of Military History (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum) (43)

Although not the most suitable for a convinced pacifist, the Military History Museum is a fascinating visit if you want you discover the history of the Habsburg Empire from the point of view of the evolution of their armies and the wars in which they were involved.

The museum shows the history of the Habsburg Empire from the late 16th century until 1918. But it also analyses the years between the dissolution of the monarchy up to 1945.  In addition to reflecting the military glories that gave the Austrians a prominent role in Europe for centuries, some sections illustrate the ethnic mix and national melting pot that was this empire.

Housed in a building of Moorish and Byzantine inspiration that belongs to the impressive fortified complex of the Arsenal, the Military History Museum was built between 1850 and 1856 according to designs by Ludwig Foerster and Theophil Hansen.

In the entrance hall you will find the Hall of Commanders, a parade of 56 life-size marble statues representing the supreme commanders of the army.

The collections, which are organised in chronological order, include weapons of all kinds, flags, banners, guns, armour and pictorial representations of famous battles. At the rear of the building, tanks and several armoured vehicles are on display.

From the pikes and muskets used by the soldiers who fought in European battlefields during the Thirty Years' War to the two rooms where visitors can discover the development of the First World War, including military defeats that contributed to the collapse of the Empire, and interesting areas that narrate life events such as wars against the Turks or major battles against the armies of Napoleon.

Prince Eugene of Savoy, who in the 17th century exerted a memorable leadership against the invading Ottoman forces, is the subject of a monographic room.

Perhaps one of the most striking sections of the museum is dedicated to the Austro-Hungarian Navy, since today, because Austria is land-locked, it has no navy as it was dissolved after World War II. In the past, thanks to possessions in the Adriatic, the Austrians had a superb naval force in the Mediterranean, and even went on important expeditions, such as the round-the-world trip starring the Novara frigate, whose model is on display in this part of the Military History Museum.

The Sarajevo Chamber hosted one of the events that provoked an international crisis that triggered the First World War. On 28th June 1914, a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, shot the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife during their visit to Sarajevo resulting in their death. Here you can see the car in which the couple was travelling when they were attacked and the bloody uniform of the heir to the throne and even the chaise longue in which he breathed his last.  

The Military History Museum is one of the largest of its kind in the world and worth a visit if only to see the more than 500 guns displayed in their rooms.

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