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One of the most interesting exhibition spaces in the Hofburg palace is the Schatzkammer, or Treasury, which is accessible via the Schweizerhof, or Swiss Court.
The numerous pieces of great value found here will give the visitor an idea of the glorious imperial past of the Habsburg dynasty, though many of the jewels belonging to the last members of the family left the country when they were forced into exile after World War II.
The collection, which covers 1000 years of European history, has, apart from its obvious symbolic value, incalculable material value as, for example, it features many important objects related to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, such as the Golden Globe, the sceptre, or the crown commissioned by Rudolf II and fashioned by master craftsmen in Prague in 1602. These three objects were used as symbols of the power of the Austrian Emperor from the time of the reign of Francis I in the 18th century.
Other major attractions of the Schaztkammer are the objects of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, such as the imperial crown, which dates from the 10th century, the imperial cross, and the ceremonial sword.
Visitors will also appreciate the section dedicated to the House of Burgundy, the treasure of the Order of the Golden Fleece, and the Ecclesiastical Treasury which, in addition to including objects that were used during the liturgy in religious services attended by the members of the court, offers the visitor the opportunity to contemplate objects such as a curious reliquary that supposedly contains a nail from Christ's cross or a reliquary-shrine that contains one of Saint Peter's teeth.
As a curiosity you may like to know which object is considered the oldest of the collection: This is none other than Saint Stephen's purse, a reliquary that belonged to Charlemagne and held the blood of the first Christian martyr.
One thing is certain, when you leave you will be dying to see any colour other than gold.
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