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The Memorial Tomb for Maximilian I.
 
 
 Cenotaph - Reliefs - Statues - Patron saints of the House of Hapsburg 


In 1502 - that means over 500 years ago - Emperor Maximilian I gave his court drawer, Gilg Sesselschreiber from Munich, the contract to start with the preparations for the construction of the largest figural memorial of the Occident..


 


Emperor Maximilian's basic idea was to construct a political memorial for the Roman-German imperial rule, which was based on the tradition of the House of Hapsburg, and was supposed to develop into a European imperial rule through Maximilian's political targets. This idea, also in an ancillary way, stems from the stylish and idealist influences of for example the French King's tombs, the graves of the Dukes from Burgundy and the Netherlands and the images of the antique death cult as well as the influence of Italian Renaissance memorials.

Maximilian's heir and grandson Ferdinand I couldn't complete his work as he had planned. Maximilian's last will, that he only whispered on his deathbed, to be buried in the St. Georges Chapel in the castle of Wiener Neustadt was fulfilled, but Ferdinand I could not fulfill Maximilian's wish to surround him with his memorial. The Chapel would have crumbled under the weight of the statues. That is why Ferdinand let the statues be finished and a simple church, in comparison to the original memorial idea, be built to hold the statues and a Franciscan monastery be constructed for their safekeeping.

The completion of the memorial in its present form took more than 80 years. It was during the time of Ferdinand II that the 1584 casting of the kneeling emperor, the four virtues and the iron grille were finished and installed in the tomb.

The extensive memorial consists of a cenotaph with the figure of the kneeling emperor and 24 reliefs depicting his deeds on the sarcophagus in the middle of the nave and 28 of the planned 40 larger than life statues of his ancestors between the pillars of the nave and the beginning of the chancel.

The statuettes of the patron saints of the house of Hapsburg stand on the north gallery.

21 busts of roman emperors that belonged to the original plan still exist. 20 are displayed in SchloƟ Abrass and one is in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich.

 

Plan