Former ice cellar

As a result of the different phases of change in the Altes Schloss, finally a natural and ice cellar, called the "Hofeiskeller", were created in the castle gardens, in the direct vicinity of the Altes Schloss. The ice was brought there from the nearby castle pond by the Franzensburg via the so-called "ice path" to the Hofeiskeller cellars.

Alter EiskellerAt the moment, there are no reliable records of how the ice was removed, transported and stored at Laxenburg. Corresponding records from similar establishments, e.g. in Retz, but also in Schloss Kirchstetten – Weinviertel, indicate that the following method was probably used:

The ice had to be strong enough, definitely over 20 cm thick, to bear the weight of a person and be safely walked over. Only then could the process of obtaining the ice for the natural and ice cellar begin. Every year on the days between Christmas and New Year, when the strength of the ice in the pond had reached its maximum of 18 to 20 cm, large plates of ice were removed from the ice using both picks and saws and then brought to shore with ice hooks over previously levelled snow rails.

There the plates were placed vertically on wooden posts, so that melted snow could flow off. After 2 days the plates were overturned, broken up into pieces of about 20 to 25 kg in weight so that they could be carried, loaded manually onto carts (not sledges) and transported to the ice cellars.

The drivers wore thick felt boots, which were wrapped in jute sacks, on their feet. Once having reached the natural or ice cellar, the blocks of ice were unloaded and stored there.

The ice was first thrown into the hollow through the lateral, and later through the, in some cases available, top openings, where two men broke it up into fist-size pieces, distributed and compacted it. As soon as the hollow was filled, the lateral entries were closed up with plates of ice and boards, then the whole space was further filled up almost to the roof. After the men had left the cellar through the roof opening, this was closed up with boards and soil. Only from spring the ice was removed throughout the year, as needed, through this opening. The supply of ice sufficed until the end of August, and often into September, thus keeping food cold right through the year.

Alter EiskellerThe Hofeiskeller of Laxenburg are built from tiles with eight side entrances, and half-sunk into the ground. The dome with a round opening is covered with earth, and at times branches, for the purposes of insulation.

The Hofeiskeller in the castle gardens of Laxenburg are a unique structure in Austria, worth preserving and of particular interest to those concerned with cultural history and responsible for the preservation of monuments.

The Hofeiskeller in the castle gardens of Laxenburg were only cleared of the debris and waste of the post-WWII period by Schloss Laxenburg Betriebsgesellschaft m. b. H. in 1995.

At present, however, the Hofeiskeller are closed off due to their structural weaknesses and can only be viewed from the outside. A revitalisation and appropriate use is, however, intended for the future.