Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna is a Baroque building belonging to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. And no wonder, because the former residence of the Habsburgs in the capital of Austria impresses with its impressive architecture and beautiful gardens. And in addition, the Vienna Zoo (the oldest in the world) is right next door, which is worth visiting at least for a while.
Schönbrunn Palace also offers a wide range of activities, including an amazing palace tour where you can learn about its history.
The magnificent Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna – the jewel of the capital of Austria
The château was built to rival France’s Versailles. The bright, yellow Schönbrunn castle means BEAUTIFUL WELL. According to a legend that says that whoever drinks from the well will remain young and beautiful forever.
The origins of this magnificent residence date back to the 16th century. Then Emperor Maximilian II. decided to turn the floodplains of the Vienna River into a hunting ground. However, it was only in the 17th century that Eleonora Gonzaga, the widow of Emperor Ferdinand II, decided to transform the existing building into a small residence. However, it was not the object we know today, because the one at that time was destroyed during the siege of Vienna in 1683. From that moment, a lot of time had to pass for Schonbrunn Castle to become a real architectural gem.
Emperor Leopold I. wanted to build a residence suitable for the Habsburg family. For this purpose, he commissioned the architect Bernhard Fischer von Erlach to draw up a suitable project. Unfortunately, it turned out that the imperial treasury was not able to cover such a huge expenditure. The construction of the palace was undertaken by the successor to the throne, Josef I, but the effect was far from planned. On the other hand, Charles of Habsburg was not at all interested in continuing the construction. And so only his daughter Maria Teresa, who carried out a thorough reconstruction of the palace according to the plans of the architect Nicolo Pacasi, created Schönbrunn Castle as we know it today.
During its history, the palace changed owners
Over the following years, the palace changed hands several times. And so, after the death of Maria Theresa, it was occupied by Napoleon, later many balls were held here, and in 1830 it became the birthplace of the future ruler of Austria-Hungary, Francis Joseph. And it is in Schönbrunn Palace that his unhappy love affair with Elisabeth, calls “Sissi”, takes place. During the reign of their son Charles I of Habsburg, the monarchy collapsed and Schönbrunn Castle became state property with it. And so ends the magnificent period of the palace’s heyday.
Schönbrunn Palace – Vienna
Schonbrunn Castle, already a state property, served various functions, including a psychiatric hospital or a museum. Unfortunately, the beautiful Baroque residence was heavily damaged during World War II. To this day, it is not known how it was possible to avoid the looting and vandalism of the Red Army. Immediately after the war, Great Britain undertook to secure and rebuild the destroyed seat. And since then, Schönbrunn Palace has continued to function as a museum, occasionally serving as a venue for important political meetings (John F. Kennedy’s meeting). Fortunately, numerous repairs and huge financial sums made it possible to save Austria’s baroque pearl.
Tour of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna – attractions
Nowadays, the palace is very often visited by tourists. Statistics even speak of 2.5 million visitors per year. It is not surprising, because despite the eventful history and much damage, the palace impresses with its architecture and the number of rooms and chambers to visit. The whole is well organized for visitors. When we go to Schönbrunn Palace, we can visit the Grand Gallery, which was a banquet and ballroom at the time.
The room is over 40 meters long and 10 meters wide. There are windows and crystal mirrors on the walls, the whole is finished with frescoes depicting the life of the Habsburg family. Another room open to visitors is the Mirror Room. The amazing effect obtained by equipping it with mirrors and wooden paneling will captivate the room with its appearance. Throughout the palace, you have the opportunity to see masterpieces of painting as well as palace equipment from that time.
The palace gardens are also a big attraction
We cannot fail to mention the gardens around Schönbrunn Palace, in which, in addition to numerous plantings of beautiful flowers, we can also find a faithful copy of the original labyrinth. The garden also includes a conservatory, a Glorietta (today a cafe), a carriage museum, and a botanical garden, as well as a zoo. And this zoo, opened in 1752, is one of the oldest and longest-running zoos in the world.
The Schönbrunn orangery must also be mentioned. It is one of the largest in the world (189 meters long and 10 meters wide). It is equipped with a heating system that allows the cultivation of tropical plants. In the past, balls were also held here. The Neptune Fountain in the garden is worth seeing.AustriaCastlesEurope