Know For: Site of abdication of Charles I, the
last emperor of the Austro- Hungarian Emperor
Description of Schonbrunn Palace
Schonbrunn Palace was designed by architect Johann
Bernhard Fischer in 1695 upon orders of king Leopold I. Current
magnificent structure of Schonbrunn Palace is situated on the lands that once were used as
hunting grounds by the Imperial family. The first hunting lodge was
constructed in the 14th century. In addition to the central
residence Schonbrunn residence also had several servants' houses,
barns and mills.
Habsburg Royal dynasty rulers baught the estate in
1569. Ferdinand II (ruled between 1618 and 1637) constructed a
miniature palace near a beautiful spring that supplied them with fresh
water and thus this feature gave the palace and its surrounding
lands its name Schonbrunn or "beautiful spring" in German.
After his death Schonbrunn Palace became the residence of his widow.
Unfortunatly the original lodge
were burned down by the invading Ottoman Turkish forces so upon
their defeat Austrian Royal House decided to erect a grander and
more significant private residence.
New Schonbrunn Palace was constructed in 1696- 1713
in an Austrian Baroque architectural style. Its architect Johann
Fischer von Erlach envisioned splendid central palace modelled after
France's Versailles surrounded by an extensive park around it.
Schonbrunn Palace was increased in size and complexity in 1728 during
reign of Empress Maria Theresa under supervision of Nikolaus Pacassi.
She turned this residence into the center of social and political
life of Austria. In 1747 royal complex got its own theater in the
north part of the estate. The Empress herself loved to take part in
its productions and often enjoyed singing during the performances.
In 1752 Emperor Franz I, husband of Maria Theresa,
inititated the creation of Schonbrunn Zoo, one of the oldest in
Europe. He also opened a sort of botanical garden with greenhouses
filled by rare exotic plants brough from the West Indies and other
colonies. These greenhouses were rebuilt in 1882 and now contain
three beautiful pavilions made of glass and metal. It is locally
known as the Palm House. After the death of Maria Theresa,
Schonbrunn Palace continued to serve as a summer residence of the
Habsburgs. Emperor Franz Joseph I particularly loved this royal
residence as it was also his birth place (1830). After his accession
to the throne, Schonbrunn Palace became his official residence and
hence once again became the center of the Austro- Hungarian Empire.
However the end of World War I and subsequent fall of the Austrian
monarchy, former royal residence became nationalized and was opened
to the public for the first time.
During World War II grounds of the Schonbrunn Palace
was hit by the Allied bomber raids. However it suffered only minor
danger from these bombings. After the World War II it became the
military headquarter of the British command.
Schonbrunn Palace is located kilometers from
the historic center of Vienna. Two subway stops, Heitzing and
Schonbrunn, allow easy access from the Austria's capital.
The Interior of the Schonbrunn Palace
The main building of the Schonbrunn Palace
consists of 1441 rooms, however only 40 rooms are opened to the
public today. The Ceremonial Hall that is also known as "Hall of Battles" holds a
central location in the estate. Its name is derived from a fact that
its walls are decorated with numerous paintings of the 18th century
depicting scenes of famous battles and ceremonies, such as
coronations and weddings. Anoterh interesting romm is a Rose Hall
decorated by pictures of splendid landscaped of Switzerland and
Italy. It is believed that they belong to the artist Joseph Rosa.
Magic Mirror Hall as well as living quarters belonged to the famous
imperial couple Emperor Franz Joseph and Elisabeth, known as Sissi.
Every room in Schonbrunn Palace differ in
lavish interior design and an abundance of small interesting
details. Many of them preserved luxurious decorations of Rococo
architecture, antuqye wooden furtniture, decorated in gold, bronze
and pearl, unusual historic Chinese vases of Bohemian glass
chandeliers, tiled stoves in a variety of different patters.
Additionally several rooms in Schonbrunn Palace holds an exhibit of
unique collections of tapestries and porcelain. It should be noted
that several rooms of the estated are decorated in oriental
(Chinese) style. One of these rooms is also a site of ab official
abdication of the last Austrian Emperor Charles I.
Schonbrun Palace Park and Zoo
The park of the Schonbrunn Palace was
constructed in the late 17th century. It was designed in the strict
French style with a perfect symmetry. Sculptured shrubs, hedges and
flower beds are kept in a perfect order. Main avenues of the park
are lined by 32 allegorical statues symbolizing various Christian
One of the main attractions of the Schonbrunn
Park is a pavillion known as Glorietta, installed at the entrance of
the palace. It is a panoramic terrace of 20 meters with a
magnificent spiral staircase leading to its top. Glorietta was built
in 1775 and today it operates as a cafe. On Sundays it hosts live
music. Additionally Schonbrunn Park hold free concerts of the Vienna
Philharmonic Orchestra conducted annually from May to August.
Schonbrunn Zoo was opened in the 18th century
and many of its buildings are still wel preserved. Today it is still
open to the public. Zoo houses several cute giant pandas as well as
many other animals from the Arctic, Antartic, Amazon rainforest and
many other regions of the World. Additionally it holds a collection
of aquariums and terrariums.