Near the end of the 17th Century, Archbishop Johann Ernst Thun took possession of the aristocratic estate of Kleshof located on the outskirts of the city of Salzburg. Between the years of 1700 and 1709, the architect Fischer von Erlach constructed an elegant leisure palace, designed almost entirely in the Northern Italian style. With the death of the archbishop in 1709, the palace (originally called “Favorita”) remained unfinished for an extended period of time. It was not until 1732 that Archbishop Leopold Anton von Firmian (who built the Leopoldskron Palace) completed construction, although with considerable modification from the original architectural plan.
A Genuine Leisure Palace
Visitors to Klessheim Palace are immediately struck by its noble elegance: the elaborate Triton fountain, the loggia - or gallery, the entrance hall and the staircase are all reminiscent of the splendor of the Baroque period. As one approaches the palace, one sees that atop every pedestal is a resting stag with antlers tipped by golden stars, an allusion to the coat of arms of the Archbishop Firmian. The magnificent stucco in the interior hall was completed by Paolo d’Allio and Diego Francesco Carlone according to the original design of Fischer von Erlach.
Klessheim Palace in the modern era
Beginning in 1938 Adolf Hitler used the palace for state receptions and for summit meetings with the likes of Benito Mussolini and Miklós Horthy. The eagle made of sandstone on the entrance portal dates from this period and is representative of art in the Third Reich. During that era, Klessheim Palace was used for weapon shows and parades. In 1945 the palace became the venue for celebrations by the victorious allied powers and subsequently the headquarters of the American military administration.
Cavaliers House and Garden
In 1866, during the period of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the palace was acquired by Archduke Ludwig Viktor. He commissioned the architect, Heinrich von Ferstel, to build what he termed a winter palace, or the cavaliers house.
The garden complex belonging to the palace is surrounded by a high wall with 11 watch towers. From the very beginning, this garden complex was composed of three individual sections, each separated by a wall. These three parts are the Meierhofgarten (kitchen garden), the Ziergarten (flower garden) and the Fasangarten (pheasant or hunting garden).
Since 1993 the magnificent rooms of the Klessheim Palace have been home to the Salzburg Casino. Opened on July 1, 1934, the Salzburg Casino was originally located in the Hotel & Restaurant Mirabell (http://www.salzburg.com/wiki/index.php/Hotel_Mirabell). In 1950, the casino relocated to the Café Winkler atop the Mönchsberg mountain. Although Klessheim Palace was originally intended as just a temporary location for the casino, the palace was such a hit with guests that Casinos Austria decided to make Klessheim the casino’s permanent home. Today’s visitors can enjoy the combination of baroque architecture and modern gaming which together give the casino its unique flair.
The casino offers five American roulette-tables, five blackjack tables, two hold’em poker tables, seven poker tables, one tropical stud poker table, 21 roulette machines and 156 slot machines.
Further information can be found at www.salzburg.casinos.at
Hours of operation: daily (except for Christmas Eve); slot and roulette machines from noon to 3 a.m.; live games from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m.
The palace restaurant is open daily from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Bar service is available daily from noon until closing.
The casino offers free gaming instruction for interested guests and first-time visitors on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. until midnight.