Welcome to Prince Eugene of Savoy’s summer “cottage.” In the minds of its creators, it was regarded as the Mt. Olympus of Vienna.
The Belvedere was built in the early 18th century by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, the architect of Graz’s Mariahilferkirche and rival of Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. Flushed from his victories over the Turks, Prince Eugene wanted Hildebrandt to create something suitably grand. The court architect did his best. When it was finished, the summer palace – split into the Lower Belvedere and the Upper Belvedere – had formal parterre gardens, pools of water, an orangery, and a zoo.
After Prince Eugene’s death, the palace eventually passed into the hands of the Imperial family. In A.D. 1770, Joseph II hosted a grand supper at the Belvedere in honor of the marriage between his sister, Marie Antoinette, and Louis, Dauphin of France. 600 guests in masks, white dominoes, or hooded cloaks danced in the pavilion. 800 firemen and even a few dentists (!) were on hand for emergencies. The ball lasted until 7 in the morning.*
You can read more about the Belvedere’s history on its excellent website.
* See Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser