One of the most important treasures of the world, The Imperial Treasury of Vienna, is housed in the oldest part of the Hofburg Palace (dating from the 13th century), just off of the Swiss Courtyard. Encompassing 21 rooms, the collection is divided into two components; the secular collection exhibiting the artifacts from the House of Hapsburg; and the ecclesiastical collection of numerous devotional images and altars. Until 1918, the Hofburg Palace was the center of the Hapsburg Empire and this collection was designed to indicate the political power and geographical reach of this Empire. In addition to the many gems and artifacts of the Hapsburgs, the collection also devotes space to the Order of the Golden Fleece, a chivalrous order founded in Bruges by Philip III of Burgundy in 1430. Originally restricted to 24 Knights, it was later enlarged to comprise 50 recipients (including the Duke of Wellington), soon becaming the most prestigious order in Europe. Two branches of this ancient order still exist today; one in Austria and the other in Spain.
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Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.