We are doing our best to meet the demands of all our visitors by offering, apart from the educational and the guided tours on Sundays and holidays, guided tours in English and German that cover all thematic areas. Upon registering you are very welcome to make special requests or utter particular interests. The guided tours last between 1 and 1 and a half hours, according to your wish.
For your better guidance the most popular thematic areas are re-listed below. For detailed information, please click on the desired topic.
The Arsenal and the museum are introduced, followed by a journey through 300 years of Austrian military history, which provides an overview of the displayed collection of the museum and which can, naturally, only focus on the historical highlights. A walk that inspires the visitor to take a closer look and to come back.
As a rule, the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum hosts a special exhibition twice a year on a military history theme. You are welcome to book a guiding tour throughout our special exhibitions.
The Thirty Years' war
Religious differences, defenestrations, a war for religion and power, devastating Central Europe over 30 years and decimating its population. Documented by contemporary paintings, graphics, and armament, shedding many a light on the soldier’s life during the first half of the 17th century.
Two centuries of relations, from the “Long Ottoman War” around 1600 to the last one in 1788/89 to our then eastern neighbour. Here, focus is evidently laid on the Second Siege of Vienna by Ottoman troops in the year 1683. The Turks’ tents, the “mortar of Belgrade” as well as the military border and its inhabitants are introduced in this context.
1663-1736, the life of the probably best known Austrian prince, military commander, builder, collector and patron of the arts of the Baroque. The advisor to three emperors is introduced via objects and paintings. The “conqueror of Turks”, victor of many battles, and diplomat becomes a tangible personality.
The sovereign, spouse, mother, heiress of the Habsburg Empire, becoming a bone of contention of various “body snatchers” at the beginning of her reign, the wars to guarantee its persistence, but also the army of Frederick II., are presented. The advisors and military commanders of Maria Theresa round off the picture.
The French Revolution
Hardly in the public awareness at the beginning (1789), due to the Great Ottoman War in Austria, it becomes the catalyst for 23 years of armed conflict in Europe. Emperor Francis II/I dissolves the “Holy Roman Empire”, Napoleon crowns himself Emperor of the French. In 1809, “The Invincible” is defeated in Aspern, 1813 at Leipzig, the Congress of Vienna, the situation before the Revolution is restored.
The “idyllic Biedermeier”, the young Francis Joseph, his first uniform, the old Archduke Carl Ferdinand,“the Kindhearted”. Austria’s role as policeman of Europe, bourgeois idyll everywhere. Suddenly, revolution in Vienna, Hungary and Upper Italy, plus a war with Piemont-Sardinia. The Court flees, the first constitution, the Emperor abdicates, Francis Joseph becomes the new leader. Radetzky defeats Piemont, the revolutions collapse.
The revolution in Hungary is quelled, Francis Joseph gets married, and loses the Kingdom of Lombardy in the Battle of Solferino 1859. The “German Confederation“ starts the German-Danish war in 1864, Austria’s differences with Prussia are repressed for a last time, however, erupting again during the war in 1866. Königgrätz – the catastrophe, Custozza – the victory.
1867 – The exhibits illustrate the “Compensation” with Hungary, the new uniforms and armaments of the army as well as its development and the set-up of the territorial forces, furthermore the multi-nationality and technical achievements of the beginning 20th century, but also personal fates like that of Crown Prince Rudolf. The end of peace, introduced by the assassination in Sarajevo, concludes the picture.
First World War
The great catastrophe of the 20th century, triggered by the assassination of the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, is begun with big enthusiasm; starting in Serbia, it draws the European alliances, one by one, into a global blaze. However, this multiple-front war, requiring the highest performance of soldiers imaginable, especially in alpine regions, is finally lost, entailing the breakup of the monarchy. The artillery of the time and its effects are lively illustrated here.
Austria from 1918 to 1938
The giant monarchy becomes a small state, whose political protagonists do not only reject a state consensus but do not consider a “residual Austria” viable, either. The party officials dominating the everyday political business as well as the general efforts towards a forceful solution of governmental problems are the topics of this section, ending with the “Anschluss” in 1938.
Second World War
The annexation, ending Austria’s sovereignty, and die incorporation of the Sudetenland into the “Third Reich” are quietly acknowledged by the rest of the world. The attack on Poland, entailing a Blitzkrieg and the German occupation of big parts of Europe, leads in the war, which extends into the Soviet Union, up to the Asian border. The catastrophe of Stalingrad marks the turning point. After five years of war, a destroyed and occupied Germany survives, with millions of deaths in Europe to deplore, however, the focus also lies on a resurrection of Austria, involving all political groups and following the motto of the “consensus reached on the roads of camp Dachau”.
The Austrian Navy
200 years of Austrian naval forces and their way from “appendix” of the armed forces to the world’s sixth biggest naval force are presented in this section of the museum. Prodigious models from all eras, especially the world’s biggest and most detailed cut-away model of a “dreadnought” from World War I, animate the mental image of the navy. Special attention is directed to the importance of scientific expeditions conducted by the Navy or individual officers.
On the outside, the Museum of Military History displays the armoured vehicles of the Austrian Armed Forces of the Second Republic. They range from the basic equipment handed over by the Allied Powers to acquisitions of the last decade. One item, however, the assault gun of the type SU 100, is a war relic, reminding us of the conquest of Vienna by the Soviet Army.
They contain the world’s biggest collection of historical gun barrels from the 15th up to the 20th century. This part of the collection on display is not only interesting for experts but for all those who like admiring historic craft techniques and artistic design.