Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

Schonbrunn PalaceSchonbrunn Palace
5km/3mi to the north of Sierndorf, off the main road, lies Schloss Schönbrunn (by Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, 1712-17), in a beautiful park, with an Orangery and, in an open field, the Chapel of St John Nepomuk (figure of the Saint under a canopy).
In 1559 Emperor Maximilian II acquired a small summer palace in a converted mill on this site. After the glorious defeat of the Turks in 1683 Emperor Leopold I commissioned J. B. Fischer von Erlach to design an Imperial palace on the site of the little Palace of Klatterburg which had been destroyed. For the Glorietta Hill Fischer planned a castle larger and more magnificent than the Palace of Versailles, but the project never came to fruition. The "more modest" Baroque Palace of Schönbrunn with 1,441 rooms and apartments was built between 1696 and 1730. In 1744-49 Nikolaus Pacassi converted the palace into a residence for Maria Theresa. There were further alterations between 1816 and 1819, and following severe damage in the Second World War reconstruction was completed in 1952. After the time of Maria Theresa the most brilliant period for the castle was during the Congress of Vienna, which met here in 1814/15. Other important dates associated with the palace are 1805 and 1809 when Napoleon I, whose troops had occupied Vienna, took up residence in Maria Theresa's favorite rooms. In 1918 Charles I relinquished the throne here, and in 1945 the British High Commissioner set up his headquarters in part of the building. Today the palace is used for state receptions given by the President of Austria.
Of the 1,441 rooms in the palace 39 on the first floor can be seen by visitors participating in guided tours.
The palace also boasts a fine selection of royal coaches.
Official site: www.schoenbrunn.at
Address: Schloss Schönbrunn, A-1130 Vienna, Austria

Schonbrunn Palace Highlights

Schonbrunn Palace Yard

The wrought iron gate to the former parade ground at Schönbrunn (24,000sq.m/ 25,000sq.yd), a magnificent example of Baroque layout, is flanked by two obelisks.

Schönbrunn Palace Theater

The sole remaining Baroque theater in Vienna was built at Schönbrunn in 1747 by Nikolaus Pacassi, Maria Theresa's favorite architect, and the Roccoco decoration added by Hetzendorf in 1767. Here in the "Habsburg private theater" the Empress herself acted in plays, and later Haydn and Mozart gave concerts on the Baroque stage which was restored in 1979-80. Today it is used for the Max Reinhardt seminars, and is open to the public only in July and August when the Viennese Chamber Opera gives performances.

Schönbrunn - Mews

More than 60 historical state coaches, sledges and sedan chairs as well as harness and Court livery from the period 1690-1918 are on display in the former Winter Riding School at Schöbrunn. The highlight of the collection is the richly decorated Imperial Coach which, drawn by eight grays, was used at royal weddings and coronations from 1745 onwards. The black painted Funerary Coach, also drawn by a team of eight, was used to take the Habsburgs to their final resting place in the Imperial vault in the Kapuzinerkirche. It was last used in 1989 for Empress Zita's funeral. Also on display are Napoleon's coach from Paris which was used for the coronation in Milan, the baby carriage made in Paris for the Duke of Reichstadt (son of Napoleon I and Marie Louise), the Empress Caroline's Coronation Landauer, Emperor Franz Josef's State Coach, the simple coach in which the Empress Elisabeth drove to Geneva, never to return, and Empress Zita's plain coach.

Schonbrunn Palace Park

The park around the palace of Schönbrunn covers an area of about 2sq.km/500 acres. Laid out by Jean Trehet in 1805 to a design by Fischer it is one of the most important Baroque gardens in the French style. Between 1765 and 1780 Adrian von Steckhoven and J. F. Hetzendorf von Hohenberg gave it its present appearance. By the paths on each side of the flower-beds stand 44 mythological marble sculptures from the period c. 1773.
Schönbrunn Palace and Park - Floor plan map Schönbrunn Palace and Park Map

Roman Ruins

The so-called Roman ruins at Schönbrunn are a Romantic folly with the appearance of a half-buried palace with Corinthian columns dating from 1778. J. F. Hetzendorf von Hohenberg who designed it wanted to symbolize the fall of Greece before the might of the Roman Empire. Recent archaeological research suggests that the Roman ruins may have come from the Neugebäude ("new building"), an Imperial palace which once stood in the present-day suburb of Simmering and which Emperor Maximilian II (d. 1576) had built for his recreation activities and court festivities. By the time of Maria Theresa the palace had been relegated to a powder store. The Empress ordered the palace to be dismantled and brought to Schönbrunn.

Emperor's Spring

The "Kaiserbrunnl" (Emperor's Spring) is the old spring which gave the palace of Schönbrunn its name. Legend has it that whoever drinks from it will become or remain handsome. Emperor Matthias (1557- 1619) discovered it while out hunting and Emperor Joseph I had his drinking water drawn from it. In 1799 it was turned into a grotto-like pavilion in which the nymph Egeria (designed by J. C. Beyer) pours out the water

Neptune's Fountain

Neptune's Fountain, designed by Hetzendorf, forms the southern boundary of the garden area at Schönbrunn. About 1780 F. A Zauner sculpted the beautiful decoration based on themes from Greek mythology, including "Thetis implores Neptune's aid when her son Achilles sets out on a sea- voyage".

Classical Gloriette Arcade

Winding paths lead up to the Classical Gloriette Arcade on the top of the hill at Schönbrunn. J. F. Hetzendorf von Hohenberg built it in 1775 to crown the prospect at the end of the park. Here too, as with the Roman ruins, parts of the Neugebäude have been discovered. The Gloriette commemorates the Battle of Kolin (1757) in which Maria Theresa's troops defeated the Prussian army of Frederick the Great. There is a superb view of the city from the roof.

Obelisk

The obelisk at Schönbrunn was designed by Hetzendorf von Hohenberg and dates from 1777. The turtles on which it stands were at one time gilded. The carved scenes depict the family history of the Habsburgs.

Small Gloriette

Once the Empress Maria Theresa used to take her breakfast in this little pavilion at Schönbrunn decorated with frescoes.

Zoo

The origins of the Schönbrunn Zoo (access to which is via the Hetzinger Gate) go back to Francis I's menagerie which he founded in 1752, and it is thus the oldest zoo in the world. At present some 750 species of animals live here in special houses or running free in paddocks. In the middle of the zoo stands an octagonal pavilion dating from 1759 which is now a cafe and restaurant; originally the Imperial family used to go there to watch their "pets".
Address: Maxingstrasse 13 b, A-1130 Vienna, Austria

Palace Chapel

The Palace Chapel to the left of the entrance hall at Schönbrunn dates from c. 1700. The ceiling painting "Apotheosis of Mary Magdalene" is by Daniel Gran (1744), and that above the High Altar, "The Marriage of Mary" is by Paul Troger. The altar itself is the work of Franz Kohl.

Tyrolean Garden

Archduke Johann introduced an Alpine note into the Schönbrunn park by having these two Tyrolean timber houses built and an Alpine garden laid out here c. 1800. In 1865 the Alpine garden was moved to the Belvedere, where it is now the oldest of its kind in Europe. In the place of the old Tyrolean timber houses a farmhouse, built in 1722 and also from the Tyrol, was re- erected here.

Palm House

The Palm House at Schönbrunn was the largest greenhouse in Europe; it was built by Segenschmid in 1883 and fully renovated in 1990. There are three sections in which numerous exotic plants are kept at various temperatures.
The modern glass structure is also home to hundreds of species of butterflies.
Address: Schloss Schönbrunn, A-1130 Wien, Austria

Sundial House

Opposite the Palm House at Schönbrunn stands the Sundial House with a butterfly garden.

Bergl Rooms

To the left of the entrance hall at Schönbrunn lie the garden apartments which were furnished to Maria Theresa's taste. They were originally known as the "Indian Rooms" on account of their Romantic and exotic decoration, the work of the Bohemian artist Johann Bergl between 1769 and 1777 (guided tours by prior arrangement on the hour every hour on Sat., Sun. and public holidays).

Marie-Antoinette's Room

On the left of Marie-Antoinette's Room at Schönbrunn hangs F. Amerling's celebrated portrait of Francis I with the insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece. A peculiarity of this picture is that the Emperor's eyes seem to follow the spectator wherever he or she may go in the room.

Nursery

The Louis XVI bonheur du jour in this paneled nursery room at Schönbrunn belonged to Marie Antoinette, the future Queen of France. Her portrait is to be seen on the left-hand side.

Yellow Room

The white marble clock which stands on the left hand side of the yellow room at Schönbrunn was a gift from Napoleon III to Franz Joseph I. The salon takes its name from the yellow damask used for covering the chairs.

Breakfast Room

Maria Theresa used to take her breakfast in this room at Schönbrunn. The pictures of flowers are thought to be the work of the Empress' daughters.

Walnut Room

Emperor Franz Joseph's audience chamber, the Walnut Room at Schönbrunn, takes its name from the walnut paneling dating from 1766. The candelabra carved out of wood is covered in real gold.

Franz Joseph's Bedroom

It was in this simple soldier's bed at Schönbrunn that the Emperor Franz Joseph died on November 21 1916 after a reign of nearly 68 years.

Empress Elisabeth's Salon

On the walls of this reception room - Empress Elisabeth's salon at Schöbrunn - hang pastel portraits by Jean-Etienne Liotard of Maria Theresa's children.

Mozart in Schonbrunn Festival

This annual festival runs from early June to late August and is put on by the Vienna Chamber Opera. The festival is know both for its high-quality performances and its spectacular scenic production. Events are performed inside, in the Palace Theater, as well as outside, near the Roman Ruin.
Address: Fleischmarkt 24, A-1010 Vienna, Austria

Chinese Round Cabinet

It was here at the Chinese Round Cabinet at Schönbrunn that Maria Theresa set up her "conspiracy headquarters" amid the East Asian lacquered screen panels under the dome with its stucco decoration. At that time State Chancellor Kaunitz was allowed to enter by way of a secret staircase.

Great Gallery

Glittering Imperial banquets used to be held in the Great Gallery at Schönbrunn under Gregorio Guglielmi's ceiling paintings, and it was here that dances were held during the Congress of Vienna in 1814/15. Now the Republic holds its greatest receptions here.

Million Room

Maria Theresa's former private salon at Schönbrunn, the Million Room, is paneled with precious rosewood, ornamented with gilt carvings. Set under glass in the paneling are 260 precious Indian and Persian miniatures which Maria Theresa had brought to Vienna from Constantinople.

Blue Chinese Salon

Hand painted Far Eastern wallpaper, blue and white Japanese vases and light blue silks form the setting in which the monarchy came to an end. It was in this room at Schönbrunn that Charles abdicated in 1918 and Austria became a Republic.

Ceremonial Room

Major weddings, baptisms and investitures were held in the Ceremonial Room at Schönbrunn under the Habsburgs. The gold framed paintings - School of van Meytens - depict the marriage of Joseph II to Isabella of Bourbon-Parma in 1760.

Hall of Mirrors

It was in this room at Schönbrunn, the walls of which are covered with crystal mirrors in gilded Roccoco frames, that Maria Theresa's ministers used to swear their allegiance to her. Mozart performed here as a six-year-old prodigy.

Napoleon's Room

Napoleon I lived in Maria Theresa's former bedroom in 1805 and 1809. It was here, too, that his son, the Duke of Reichstadt, who had grown up in Schönbrunn, died in 1832.

Porcelain Room

Blue and white wooden garlands in this room at Schönbrunn look deceptively like genuine porcelain. Some of the 213 blue Indian ink sketches are by Maria Theresa's children who were artistically gifted.

Small Gallery

It was in this 18m/60ft long gallery at Schönbrunn that the Imperial Household held its more intimate dinners. The painted ceiling (1761) is by Gregorio Guglielmi and takes as its theme the glorification of the House of Habsburg.

Tapestry Room

The walls and furniture in Schönbrunn's Tapestry Room are covered with Brussels tapestries depicting Dutch folk scenes, including "Port and Fish Market", which is 26sq.m/280sq.ft in area.

Schonbrunn Imperial Coach Collection

The Coach Museum located in the former Winter Riding School. The collections include coaches, sleighs and sedan chairs which were used to transport the imperial family.
Address: Schloss Schönbrunn, Austria

Rosa Room

Joseph I's private apartments at Schönbrunn take their name from the Late Roccoco-style landscape paintings (1760-69) by the artist Josef Rosa.

Vienna Schonbrunn (Vieux Laque Room)

In the private apartment, Vieux Laque at Schönbrunn, of the elderly Empress Maria Theresa East Asian art is combined with Viennese Roccoco.
Palace of Schönbrunn - Floor plan map Palace of Schönbrunn Map

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