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The Schönbrunn Palace    The Gardens

 

 

 

  

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Schönbrunn Palace

 

The Palm House in the Gardens at Schonbrunn

The Schönbrunn Palace is one of Vienna's most popular attractions.  In addition to the luxurious and stately palace, you will have a chance to explore the Schönbrunn's beautiful Park/Garden, which is filled with lush planting, interesting sculptures, numerous fountains and the impressive Gloriette.

The Schönbrunn Palace is located at Schönbrunner Schloss Strasse 47 - 49 in Vienna.   We recommend taking the Underground U4 to the Schönbrunn Station  as the easiest and quickest way to travel to the palace.

The Schönbrunn is open daily from 8:30am to 4:30 pm in winter and until 5 pm in spring and fall. Summer hours (July 1 to August 31) end at 6:00 pm. 

A variety of tours are available that include the Palace, the Park and the Zoo. See the official website  for details on the various admission prices for these attractions.

The Schönbrunn

   The Schonbrunn Palace as seen from the front gates

The Schönbrunn Palace (named after a spring found on the property - fair spring is the translation of  “schöner brunen“) and the property where it is located was acquired by the Habsburgs in 1569. In its early years it was used as a hunting lodge until a manor was built here in 1642. Unfortunately, the first Schönbrunn was destroyed during the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683.

Work on the building that eventually became today’s Schönbrunn Palace was based on a design by Fisher von Erlach and the central wing was completed in 1700, although further work on the building did not occur until Maria Theresa was given the estate by her father Charles I.

 

With the guidance of Empress Maria Theresa the Schönbrunn was transformed by architect Nicolaus Pacassi, between 1740 and 1760, into the Rococo style grand palace that we see today. It was at this time that the Schönbrunn became the official Summer Palace of the Habsburgs, while the Hofburg became the Winter Palace. The construction of the Schönbrunn Palace and Park were “finalized” shortly before Maria Theresa’s death, but remained unoccupied for a period after.

The Schönbrunn was occupied by Napoleon in 1805 and 1809 during his invasions of Austria. After ownership of the palace was transferred to Franz I, Emperor of Austria, he had his architect replace the decorative Rococo facade of the palace with the plain design that is visible today.

An interesting side note on the history of the palace is that the famous Emperor Franz Joseph (Marie Theresa’s great-great grandson) was born in the palace and died there in 1916 after a reign of 68 years. Franz Joseph's successor as Habsburg emperor was forced to relinquish all of his civil powers in 1918 and the Schönbrunn became a property of the Austrian Republic.

Details on Touring

This is the entrance foyer where you will purchase your tour ticketsAfter you enter the entrance gates, the ticket office can be found to the left  in the East Wing of the Palace.   One note about touring the palace is that all interior tours are focused on the Piano Nobile or the principal floor of the palace.

The basic tour (the Imperial Tour, around 10€) includes the State Rooms (the Central Wing) and private apartments of Franz Joseph and Sisi (the East Wing).  In order to the view the audience chamber of Maria Theresa and an additional 18 rooms (the East Wing), which includes some of the most interesting areas of the palace, you need to take the Grand Tour (around 13€). Both tours include the use of an audio guide that is packed with interesting information on the palace and the Habsburgs. Guided tours are also available for a slightly higher fee.

During your tour you will see the private rooms (the Piano Nobile) of the Schönbrunn, as well as the ceremonial rooms. The condition and quality of the décor in the Schönbrunn is far superior to that to the State Rooms and Imperial Apartments of the Habsburg, although whether this is a result of the divergent histories of the two buildings, or just an example of better curatorship, remains unclear.

The Tour

All tours start in the West Wing and ascends the Blue Staircase to a set of glamorous rooms that were used by Franz Joseph for meetings, including the Billiards Chamber (a popular parlor game during his reign) and the ornate, wood paneled Walnut Room, followed by the his study and bedroom.

His wife Elisabeth’s (Sisi) suite of rooms (one of which once had a staircase that allowed her to escape the palace unseen) is followed by the Marital Bedroom (which the prince was frequently locked out of by Sisi), the Marie Antoinette Room (Madame Antoinette was the last daughter of Empress Maria Theresa), the Children’s Rooms and several rooms for entertaining, including the stunning Hall of Mirrors (where it is thought that a young Mozart performed for Maria Theresa).

The standout of the Central Wing is the Great Gallery where balls and receptions were held. The Great Gallery is truly an outstanding room that is decorated in such a harmonious fashion that it requires several minutes to take in the unusual and extravagant details. Although it was damaged by a bomb near end of World War II, the Gallery has been restored to its former greatness. The three ceiling frescos by Guglielmi are stunning, as is the stucco work by Bolla. An interesting fact about the Great Gallery is that is hosted the meeting between the American President John F. Kennedy and the Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in 1961.

A Small Gallery and Marie Theresa's favorite rooms, the Chinese Cabinets, follow before you reach the East Wing, which is part of the Grand Tour ticket for the palace, but is not included in the Imperial Tour.

The East Wing continues the string of ornately decorated rooms, some of which were the apartments of Franz I, Emperor of Austria. Perhaps the highlight of this wing of the Schönbrunn is the Vieux-Laque room that was remodeled by Maria Theresa as a memorial to her husband Franz Stephan, after his death. The room is elegant in its sumptuousness, including a gorgeous inlayed floor and highly lacquered wall panels. Following this is a set a beautiful rooms that are diverse in their decorations and well worth seeing. Of note is the Reiches Zimmer (Rich Room) where the future emperor Franz Joseph was born in 1830.

The tour concludes at this point, although, if you have children along, you might want to see the Schönbrunn Experience, a suite of rooms that serve as a children’s museum that allow some “hands-on” play aimed at helping them better understand the daily life at the Schönbrunn.

Otherwise, be sure to tour the Park (Garden) at Schönbrunn. The gardens were constructed in a manner to complement the palace and their design, including statues, monuments and buildings certainly meet this goal. Note, some of the attractions in the Garden require a modest entrance fee or you can purchase the Schönbrunn Pass Classic that provides for touring the Palace and some of the attractions in the Garden. (see this page of the official website for more details.

The Gardens

      The Neptune Fountain and the Gloriette in the Park at the Schonbrunn Palace

The Grand Parterre (patterned gardens ) flow from the palace to the famous Neptune Fountain at the base of the Schönbrunn Hill, which is capped by the Gloriette (an ornamental triumphal arch   shown below). In addition to a number of statues, an obelisk, an orangery and Roman Ruin (stylized), the gardens include a Palm House , and a small Zoo in the Baroque style.    Did we mention the Maze?  

         The Gloriette in the Gardens of Schonbrunn Palace

The gardens are beautiful in season and there is much to see. While you might be tempted to breeze through them, we recommend that you take your time and explore.  After all, when you are finished you can head for the Apple Strudel Show at the Court Bakery (from mid-March through the end of October)   or stop for a bite to eat at one of the other cafes or restaurants at the Schönbrunn.  Or, if you are up for more touring, you might want to visit the  Wagenburg , a collection of carriages, sleighs and litters once used by the Habsburgs.

Note that several of the attractions in the Gardens are fee based (Privy Garden, Gloriette, Maze, etc.), so be sure to examine the Tickets & Tours section of the official Schönbrunn website .

 

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Vienna

Getting Started
Best Palaces
Best Churches
Best Music Venues
Best Museums and Galleries
Other Attractions
Best Shopping
Best Cafes
Best Day Trip
History of Vienna

Index of Places To Visit in Vienna

Best Places to Visit in Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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