Continuing our theme of palace complexes, the Belvedere Palace (which served as a summer place for members of the Hapsburg family) contains two Baroque palaces (the Upper Belvere and the Lower Belvedere), the Orangery (a heated winter garden), the palace stables, and a Baroque park landscape. Construction of the complex began in 1717 (with the Upper Belvedere) following a successful series of wars against the Ottoman Empire by Prince Eugene of Savoy. In 1732, the main entrance hall, the Sala Terrena, was in danger of collapse because of structural issues. Architect Johann Hildebrandt added a vaulted ceiling with four "Atlas" pillars to strengthen the hall (he did a good job because it still stands today as he reconstructed it). Following the death of Prince Eugene of Savoy, the complex went to his heir, niece Princess Victoria (daughter of his eldest brother,Thomas). She moved into the complex during July of 1732, but did not like it and had plans to sell the whole complex. Empress Maria Theresa acquired the complex in 1752 but never really used it. The Bodyguard of Archers used part of the lower Belvedere, while members of the Imperial family, including Princess Maria Theresa Charlotte, daughter of Louis the XIV and Marie Antoinette, occasionally used it as a residence. From 1899 until 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand lived in the upper Belvedere with his family. The Belvedere, as the whole complex became known, was nationalized and turned into a museum shortly after World War I.
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Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.