The Family Crypt
The fact that the Heir to the Throne lies in Artstetten and not in the Capuchin Crypt is the result of his morganatic marriage. Duchess Sophie von Hohenberg and the children of the couple were excluded from burial in the Habsburg Crypt. Archduke Franz Ferdinand did not want, even in death, to be parted from his wife.
The direct motive for building the crypt was the birth of a stillborn fourth child in the autumn of 1908. The small coffin was placed temporarily in an anteroom of the castle church. In 1909 Archduke Franz Ferdinand gave orders to build a crypt beneath the fore court of the church, the architect Ludwig Baumann was entrusted with the construction. Across from a small chapel, an unadorned room was built; the coffins were to be placed side by side on the floor of the room. There was room for twelve coffins.
Soon after the funeral of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie on the 4th of July 1914, the crypt became a place of pilgrimage. The guardian of the three orphans decided to give the crypt a more dignified appearance. Architect Baumann conceived new monumental sarcophagi that were carved out of Unterberg marble in 1917. The small coffin of the stillborn child which until then had stood between the parents coffins was placed in a closed alcove.
1955/56 Following the death of Prince Ernst von Hohenberg, the crypt was enlarged under the south terrace of the castle and church tower. Today both sons of the Heir to the Throne and their wives lie here along with three of Franz Ferdinand’s grandchildren.