Schönbrunn Palace: Useful information about the castle in Vienna
Schönbrunn Palace, the summer castle of the Habsburg royal dynasty in Vienna, is today one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria. In 1996 this palace complex in the Baroque architectural style was added to the UNESCO heritage list. It is noteworthy that Schoenbrunn consists not only of the palace itself, but also a large park with a botanical garden, fountains and labyrinths. Here is the oldest zoo in Europe.
A total of 1,141 rooms in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, including halls and classrooms, galleries and apartments. Today about 200 of them are rented by private individuals, and tourists can look at 40 interior rooms as part of the tour. The park, spread over an area of more than 1 km², has separate attractions in the form of historical structures, museums, greenhouses and sculptures. It is not possible to walk around the palace complex in a couple of hours, so it is worth spending at least a whole day touring it.
Until the end of the 16th century the land where over a hundred years later Schönbrunn Castle rose belonged to the Burgomaster of Vienna who later decided to sell the property to Emperor Maximilian II of Austria. The Emperor wanted to use the area for hunting and bird farming and ordered a nature reserve to be built there. In the early 17th century, springs were found on the land, and the palace was named after them (Schöne Brunnen – “beautiful springs”).
The first residence on the grounds dates from 1643: The building served as a refuge for the widowed wife of Ferdinand II for a while, before being inherited by their daughter. However, during the Battle of Vienna (1683) the estate was virtually destroyed by Ottoman troops. In the late 17th century, the reigning emperor Leopold I, who had long dreamed of building a castle to match the Palace of Versailles in France, began construction work on the site of the ruined residence. But the building works were not completed until 1705 when the emperor died and Schönbrunn was taken over by his son Joseph I. But not for long.
In 1728 Emperor Charles VI became the owner of Schönbrunn in Vienna, but he used the estate only occasionally for hunting. Eventually the emperor decided to present the palace to his heiress Maria Theresia, whose arrival marked the beginning of Schoenbrunn’s golden age. It was under her watch that the palace underwent extensive reconstruction: the facades and interiors were renovated, and botanical gardens and a zoo were added to the surrounding park. The Schönbrunn we see today is the sole achievement of Maria Theresia.
With the collapse of the monarchy (1918), Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna became the property of the Austrian state. The building suffers considerable damage during the bombing of 1945 and subsequently undergoes restoration. At the end of the 20th century, several rooms of the castle are converted into museums and galleries, which multiplies the tourist interest in the site. Today, Schönbrunn is one of the most popular attractions in Vienna, the area is visited by up to 8 million people annually.
Halls and rooms of the palace
Today, visitors to Schönbrunn Castle in Vienna have an excellent opportunity to experience the life and times of the imperial Habsburg dynasty. Tourists have access to 40 rooms, among which the most noteworthy are:
- Hall of the Guards. Emperor Franz Joseph’s Guards, who guarded the sovereign’s chambers, once served in this room. Today, in the center of the room, decorated with paintings and crystal chandeliers, one can see mannequins in military uniform, as well as a traditional ceramic stove, which heated the room until 1992. The Walnut Room
- The Walnut Room. Its interior is primarily characterized by walnut wood finishes and furniture. Large mirrors, original tables and gilding are the traditional attributes of the Rococo style, which was prevalent in Austria in the 18th century.
- Franz Joseph’s study. The simple and modest furnishings of the Emperor’s study contrast sharply with the pompous decoration of other rooms in the palace. Numerous paintings and family photographs adorn its walls. The West Study with Terrace
- The western study with terrace. In the room leading to Elisabeth’s apartments are portraits of Maria Theresa’s two daughters. Both girls died at an early age due to smallpox, outbreaks of which were not uncommon in those years.
- Empress Elisabeth’s salon. In 1854 the interiors of the rooms were reconstructed in rococo style and decorated with its characteristic white and gold decoration. For a long time the salon served as the reception room of the sovereign, where she gave an audience to her petitioners.
- The bedroom of the imperial couple. Franz Joseph and Elisabeth shared a bedroom only during their first years of marriage. Rejecting the formalities of court life, Sisi traveled extensively, while the emperor remained alone. The walls of the chambers are distinguished by dark blue silk trim, and her furniture is made of exotic rosewood. Marie Antoinette’s Room
- Marie Antoinette’s Room. During Elisabeth’s time, the room served as a dining room where members of the imperial family held informal dinners. The table is set with silverware and crockery made of Viennese porcelain and crystal. The apartment gets its name from the tapestry of Marie Antoinette and her children that once adorned the walls.
- The children’s room. In reality the children never lived here but because of the many portraits of Maria Theresia’s daughters the room was called a nursery. The Archduchess married at the age of 19 and subsequently had 16 children, 11 of whom were girls. The Yellow Salon
- The Yellow Salon. This name of the salon is primarily due to its décor. The apartments are decorated with furniture of golden silk, and their walls are decorated with gilded moldings.
- Hall of Mirrors. The reflection of light in numerous mirrors and the brilliantly polished furniture create here the illusion of limitless space. It was in this hall that Mozart gave his first concert when he was six years old. Solemn ceremonies and the swearing-in of ministers often took place in the room. Great Gallery
- Great Gallery. One of the most majestic rooms in Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. The vast hall stretches over 40 meters long and 10 meters wide. Since the mid-18th century it had been used for balls, celebrations and banqueting receptions. Decorated with gold candelabras, crystal mirrors, white and gold moldings, and frescoes, the gallery became one of the most prominent ceremonial chambers in the Rococo style.
- Small Gallery. Built at the same time as the Great Gallery, this room of the castle was used for small family celebrations during the time of Maria Theresa. The gallery is decorated with frescoes, gold moldings, and marble. Chinese cabinets
- Chinese cabinets. Next to the Small Gallery are two study rooms. In the middle of the 18th century they were furnished with expensive Chinese furniture and decorated with silk wall carpets and porcelain from Japan and China. It was at this time that Asian culture was beginning to have a major influence on interiors in European palaces.
- Carousel Room. As the antechamber leading to the apartments of Maria Theresa and her husband, the chamber got its name from a painting depicting a carriage parade (often referred to as a carousel) held to mark the end of the First Silesian War. The Ceremonies Hall
- The Ceremonies Hall. Both small family celebrations and public festivities were held here. Of particular interest are the paintings in the room commissioned by Maria Theresia which depict important events in the imperial family and the country in general.
- The room with the stallions. It is so named because of the numerous canvases depicting horses. During the 19th century the room served as a dining room and today you can see the so called “marshal’s table” which was festively laid out for the lunch of high ranking dignitaries. The Palais Vieux Laque
- The Vieux Laque room. The chamber was once the private office of Emperor Franz I. When he died, Maria Theresia decided to dedicate the room to his memory and transformed it into a memorial salon.
- Napoleon’s Room. During the occupation of Vienna by French soldiers, Napoleon lived in Schoenbrunn Palace. It was in this room that the emperor slept and a few years later his only heir died here. The Chamber of Millions
- The Millionth Chamber. Furnished with exotic rosewood furniture, the room served as Maria Theresa’s private reception room. Small panels of Persian and Indian miniatures were inserted into the wooden panels on the walls.
- The Red Salon. The chamber gets its name from the burgundy tones that dominate its decor. The salon once served as the Empress’ dressing room. Nowadays there are several portraits of members of the Habsburg dynasty.
Parks and gardens within the castle
Photos of Schönbrunn Castle in Vienna often show a huge verdant park with alleys and gardens, monuments and fountains. It was opened to the public in 1779 and has been a popular attraction for Austrians and foreign travelers alike ever since. The length of the park from west to east is 1.2 km, and from south to north – more than 1 km. On its territory you can find many interesting sights:
- The Labyrinth. Was erected in Schoenbrunn back in 1720. It consists of paths laid out between tall hedges. However, there are no dead ends or false corners. The labyrinth’s main aim is to break up a leisurely stroll in the park. Neptune Fountain
- Neptune Fountain. Located at the foot of the hill behind the palace, the fountain was conceived as an element of the overall design of the park. The object was produced in the 1770s at the request of Maria Theresia.
- Roman ruins. The ensemble, built in 1778, blends harmoniously into the surrounding landscape of Schönbrunn. The fashion for the construction of artificial ruins began in England in the early 18th century, but did not reach Austria until the end of the century.
- Obelisk Fountain. The fountain is a pool, in the center of which rises an obelisk mounted on four turtles. In the center of the pool is decorated with a mask, and on the sides are figures of river gods with vases in their hands, from which the water gushes. Glorietta
- Glorietta. The elaborate belvedere acts as the crowning glory of the palace’s baroque ensemble. The central section of the structure is a glazed triumphal arch topped with the figure of an imperial eagle sitting on a globe surrounded by trophies. The lateral wings of the structure are decorated with arches. Today the building is also used as an observation deck.
- Palm House, Desert House, and Citrus Greenhouse. Although they are three separate spaces, they all share the exotic plants that were brought to Vienna from warm countries and have been successfully cultivated in the local greenhouses for centuries.
- Zoo. When you visit Schönbrunn Palace in Austria you will have a great opportunity to see the oldest zoo in Europe. Once a private imperial menagerie in the mid-18th century it was transformed into a public zoo. Today it is home to 4,500 animals. And in 2012 it was voted the best zoo in Europe.
- Carriage Museum. If you are interested in seeing authentic imperial carriages, then be sure to check out this small gallery.
- Address: Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Vienna, Austria.
- Getting there: You can reach the palace in Vienna by subway, line U4 (exit at Schönbrunn Station). Streetcars (no. 10, no. 58) and bus line 10A also run to the castle.
- Opening hours: April 1 to June 30 and September 1 to October 31, Schönbrunn is open from 08:00 to 17:30. From July 1 to August 31, the castle can be visited from 08:00 to 18:30 and from November 1 to March 31, from 08:00 to 17:00.
- Official website: www.schoenbrunn.at
|Category of persons||Imperial Tour (22 rooms + audio guide)||Grand Tour (40 halls and audio guide)|
|Adults||14,20 €||17,50 €|
|Children (6 to 18 years old)||10,50 €||11,50 €|
- There are always many tourists wishing to visit Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna and to avoid queues at the ticket office, buy tickets from special ticket machines or on the official website in advance.
- Do not take bags or backpacks to the palace: you have to put them in the luggage room, which can take a long time because of the queues.
- Ideal for a visit to Schönbrunn in Vienna will be the summer months, when you can fully enjoy a stroll through the park.
- It is worth remembering that videos and photos are not allowed in Schoenbrunn Palace.
- If you want to see the most important sights of the castle, both inside and out, in one day, it is highly recommended that you arrive early in the morning in time for the opening.
- A train runs throughout the park from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., making 9 stops at the main sites of the complex. The price of an adult ticket for the day is 7 €, children’s ticket – 4 €.
To visit some attractions in the park you must pay separately. If you are planning not only to visit palace Schoenbrunn, but also to take part in additional events, it is better to buy a Classic Pass card (price for adults – 24 €, for children – 15,20 €) that allows to save up to 30% on admission tickets.
Author: Catherine Unal
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Schönbrunn Palace is the Viennese residence of the Austrian emperors and one of the most important architectural buildings of the Austrian Baroque. The palace ensemble includes a huge park, the palace itself, the oldest zoo in Europe, the botanical garden, the labyrinth, the fountains and other gardens. Visitors especially enjoy the Palm House and the Gloriette Pavilion. The palace and its gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
History of Schönbrunn
The first references to the building that occupied the site of the current palace date back to the 14th century. It was an estate called Katterburg, it was owned by the monastery of Klosterneuburg and had a dwelling house, stables, watermill and garden. In 1569 the Habsburgs became the owners of the place. According to a legend, Emperor Matthias, while hunting in 1612, encountered “beautiful springs” (Schöne Brunnen), which gave the palace its today’s name. At the order of the emperor, a well was installed there and a hunting lodge was rebuilt.
Emperor Ferdinand II. and his wife Eleonora Gonzaga, who were great fans of hunting, chose Schönbrunn as the location for the court’s hunting expeditions. When Ferdinand died in 1637, his widow settled in the castle, giving it the name Schönbrunn.
In 1683 the building was partially destroyed during the siege of the city by the Turks. Emperor Leopold I decided to rebuild the palace, and in 1696 Fischer von Erlach undertook the construction of the palace complex, taking as a model Versailles palace. The main part of the work had been completed by 1713, but the construction was never completed. After 15 years, Charles VI bought the castle and gave it to his daughter Maria Theresa, who later became empress. Her reign was pivotal in the history of the palace, and thanks to her assistance the place became the center of political and palace life. The years 1742-1743 gave a start to the building works, during which the structure was once again reconstructed, after which the manor acquired its present appearance. The Empress wished to have a theater built in the northern wing of the castle; it was inaugurated in 1747, and five years later her husband, Emperor Franz I., had a zoo built near the castle, which is today considered the oldest in the world. To the west of the park, the emperor purchased a plot of land, and many greenhouses, greenhouses, and orangeries were placed there, regularly replenished with exotic plants.
After Maria Theresia passed away, the estate was used exclusively as the summer residence of the emperors. In the 19th century the place was twice occupied by Napoleon, and in 1830, Franz Joseph was born there, in the eastern wing of the palace. Two years before his birth, the orangery part of the park was enlarged by the Palm House, an unusual structure of brick with glazing. At the end of the nineteenth century it was replaced by three pavilions, for which glass and metal were used: all the major temperature zones were taken into account.
After Franz Joseph ascended the throne in 1848 a new epoch began in the history of the palace. The emperor made the place his main residence and spent the main part of his life in the castle.
After the fall of the monarchy, the castle and the park became accessible to the public in 1918. In 1945, the palace was partially damaged by bombing, after the war the castle began to act as a headquarters for the British command. Since 1992 the grounds (excluding the palace gardens) have been managed by Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- und BetriebsGmbH.