Palais Ferstel, Vienna

restored ceiling boss and stenciling, Palais Ferstel, Vienna
While visiting Vienna in 1993 I spontaneously stumbled into a maze of arcades with beautiful groin vaults, 19th century ironwork skylights and some memorable stenciling. When I found my way out I jotted down the name of the building, Palais Harrach.
shopping arcade in the former Palais Ferstel
This was not entirely accurate. On a more recent visit I sought out the newly restored Cafe Central and found myself wandering around a 19th century villa that had been beautifully decorated and converted to a commercial space, and found that this romantic revival gem was indeed the Palais Ferstel. The palace was designed in the 1860s by architect Heinrich von Ferstel, inspired by his many travels in Italy. It became a bank and stock exchange, and like many buildings in Vienna, was badly damaged in WWII. In the 1980s it was completely renovated and now houses elegant shops and galleries, and features a fabulous ballroom for events. It's sort of rafted together with the lower level of the baroque Palais Harrach, and  these passages makes a nice little detour through the Freyung area.  
detail from the Palais Ferstel vaulted ceilings
This ornament is very interesting to me because though it follows all the rules and placement of Gothic ornament, it seems to me neither Gothic nor Italian in style or color, which I suppose is often the case in revival styles. Nevertheless the repetition of the ivy leaf motif in so many of the painted  borders and the cohesive scheme of olive, plum, and ochre makes for a nice atmosphere.

You can find more photos of this lovely place by searching on flickr.

all photos in this post by Lynne Rutter, Vienna, 2008
click on images to view larger


  1. Lynne-
    Thanks for the great post. The pictures are just wonderful...and the large format is so appreciated. (gleeful excitement!)

  2. Lynne, Absolutely gorgeous images very inspiring.

    Do come and join in my fabulous giveaway from Splenderosa!

    Art by Karena

  3. well, isn't this a treat! The borders have such nice colors.

  4. thanks! the color scheme really keeps it from looking visually cluttered. i also love the way certain elements are repeated- and i thought perhaps they were modular, especially the rosette around the boss, but i have tried drawing them up and nope, each piece is a slightly different shape. whoever designed this was very clever.

  5. Lynne, I agree that this doesn't look completely Gothic, but the more I study it, the more I wonder whether that's because of the rather delicate color scheme. I think with a different set of colors, this would appear more Gothic. ... Mark

  6. What a beautiful post and love the story on how you spontaneously stumbled upon it. Serendipity. Gotta love her sometimes! I enjoyed the links as well as the large detail pics, too. Thank you!

  7. splendid! The way all the sections come together in the last photograph is just pure joy to see. yum.


  8. You are making me homesick Lynn. What gorgeous ornaments.



  9. Vienna is way, way up there at the top of my list of places to visit and I've made a note not to miss this lovely Palais.

    Yes, the design on the back of that coat was beautiful. The cover illustration is a detail of Le Bon Marche', 1898 by Felix Vallotton.

    Thanks, Lynne -


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