Schonbrunn Palace

 Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens



Location: Schonbrunner Schloss Strasse 147, Schonbrunn
Tel. 01- 811 13239
Subway: Schonbrunn
Bus: 10A
Trolley: 10, 58
Open: daily
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 virtues.


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.