Maximilian's basic idea was to construct a political memorial
for the Roman-German imperial rule, which was based on the tradition
of the House of Hapsburg, and was supposed to develop into a European
imperial rule through Maximilian's political targets. This idea, also
in an ancillary way, stems from the stylish and idealist influences
of for example the French King's tombs, the graves of the Dukes from
Burgundy and the Netherlands and the images of the antique death cult
as well as the influence of Italian Renaissance memorials.
heir and grandson Ferdinand I couldn't complete his work as he had
planned. Maximilian's last will, that he only whispered on his deathbed,
to be buried in the St. Georges Chapel in the castle of Wiener Neustadt
was fulfilled, but Ferdinand I could not fulfill Maximilian's wish
to surround him with his memorial. The Chapel would have crumbled
under the weight of the statues. That is why Ferdinand let the statues
be finished and a simple church, in comparison to the original memorial
idea, be built to hold the statues and a Franciscan monastery be
constructed for their safekeeping.
of the memorial in its present form took more than 80 years. It
was during the time of Ferdinand II that the 1584 casting of the
kneeling emperor, the four virtues and the iron grille were finished
and installed in the tomb.
statuettes of the patron saints of the house of Hapsburg stand
on the north gallery.
The extensive memorial consists of a cenotaph
with the figure of the kneeling emperor and 24 reliefs
depicting his deeds on the sarcophagus in the middle of the nave
and 28 of the planned 40 larger than life statues
of his ancestors between the pillars of the nave and the beginning
of the chancel.
21 busts of roman emperors that belonged
to the original plan still exist. 20 are displayed in Schloß
Abrass and one is in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich.