A True Hidden Gem – the Geymuellerschloessel in Vienna
Vienna is famous for its palaces. However, most people only know the three main ones: the Hofburg and the Belvedere Palaces in the city centre and Schoenbrunn Palace, the former Habsburg summer residence. On one of my walks during the Waehring district, I discovered a pretty gate and when I tried to peek inside, I discovered an interesting looking building. It looked like a palace but it had some details which seemed to have been influenced by the Middle East – the decor around the windows and the half moon on the cupola. I went back home and did some research about this building near the Poetzleinsdorfer Schlosspark and discovered that it is part of the MAK, the Museum for Applied Arts. Another nice surprise was that it hosts exhibitions about furniture and fashion – a perfect place to visit and I registered for one of their guided tours.
Originally, Johann Heinrich and Johann Jakob Geymueller came from Switzerland but after the death of their father in 1771, the brothers moved to Vienna and worked in the bank of the Swiss Peter Ochs. They moved into an apartment in the inner city, but they also started to acquire land in Poetzleinsdorf which is part of the 18th district today. Back in the 18th century, Poetzleinsdorf was a tiny village of just about 30 houses outside of Vienna. By horse carriage, it took about 90 minutes to get there from today’s Ring. For the Viennese elite, it was very common to spend the summer months outside of Vienna. Those who could afford it, owned a summer home in the countryside. Hence, the Geymueller brothers also looked for a residence representing their status in Poetzleinsdorf. At the beginning of the 19th century, Johann Heinrich bought a yard in Poetzleinsdorf which his brother expanded in 1808 and turned into a grand summer residence. The brothers were not nobility as yet, but the “Schloessel” (small palace) was a good start. Due to their support of the emperor by providing loans during the war, they became noblemen in 1810.
As I mentioned in the beginning, the building has an “exotic” vibe. This is due to the type of architecture chosen for the building: it is a mix of neoclassical elements (such as the window and balcony decor on the exterior of the first floor) and elements inspired by the Orient (the elements on the exterior of the ground floor and some interior decor inside of the Schloessel). There even was a minaret.
After the Geymuellers, the textile magnate Isidor Mautner and his wife Jenny bought the Schloessel and used it for their popular parties and music and theatre performances. After the end of the Habsburg monarchy, the textile manufacturer found himself in financial difficulties as his factories were then scattered across multiple countries to which he did not have access after 1918. The financial crisis in 1929 was another hit for the Mautner family and the Schloessel was taken over by the national bank. Jenny Mautner had the right to live in the Schloessel until her death in 1938 – after that, the Nazis were quick to aryanize the building. During the war, it was a shelter for many Viennese who fled the bombings in the city. After the war, the deteriorated building was acquired by Franz Sobek, the head of the State Printing Office who renovated it and also used it to store his vast collection of clocks which can still be admired at the Geymuellerschloessel today.
In the 1960s, the Schloessel changed owners again and has been owned by the Republic of Austria since then. The government offered the MAK, the Museum for Applied Arts, to use it as a branch. Currently, the Geymueller Schloessel hosts special exhibitions, such as the (CON)TEMPORARY FASHION SHOWCASE in summer 2021, featuring Austrian fashion designer Susanne Bisovsky amongst others.
It is possible to visit the Geymuellerschloessel with a guided tour which I highly recommend. Since the original interior decor and furniture do not exist anymore, the rooms of the Schloessel represent how the elites in Vienna during the Biedermeier (1815-1848) decorated their homes. I found it very interesting to learn more about the furniture of this time and I learned some surprising facts not only about Biedermeier furniture but also the daily life of the Viennese upper class. (I do not want to give away too much, as I do not want to appropriate the work of our guide. I highly recommend to do the guided tour to learn more.)
More information about visiting the Geymuellerschloessel and the guided tour can be found on the website of the MAK.
You can reach the Geymuellerschloessel with the tram line 41 from Schottentor until its terminal station. From there, it is a five-minute walk.
Sources: MAK, History of the Geymuellerschloessel (MAK), City of Vienna, and information provided during the guided tour at the Geymuellerschloessel
More about Vienna
Little Pink Book for Vienna – City Guide
Vienna Ultimate Guide and Quick Guide
Things to Do in Vienna in Spring and Autumn
Jugendstil in and around Vienna: Steinhof Church and Residential Buildings in Brunn am Gebirge and Central Cemetery
Day Trip from Vienna to the Fairytale Mountain Resort Semmering
Day Trip from Vienna to Reichenau an der Rax
More about Austria
Innsbruck Ultimate Guide and Mini Guide
Salzburg Ultimate Guide and Mini Guide
Business Style Guide – What to Wear in Vienna in Winter
Jugendstil Guides: Residential Buidlings in Brunn am Gebirge and Steinhof Church
Sound of Music: Salzkammergut and Werfen
All information as of the date of publishing/updating and based on the personal visit of Elisabeth Steiger, the information available at the Geymuellerschloessel during the guided tour and the official website of the MAK, History of the Geymuellerschloessel (MAK), City of Vienna. We cannot accept responsibility for the correctness or completeness of the data, or for ensuring that it is up to date. All recommendations are based on the personal experience of Elisabeth Steiger, no fees were received by the recommended places above.