Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, description and how to get there

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna – how to get there and what to see

The most famous palace in Vienna and all of Austria, Schönbrunn can only be rivaled in fame and attendance by the Belvedere and Hofburg palaces. From a tourist point of view, these attractions are different. While Belvedere is a large art museum, Schönbrunn is famous for its gardens, orangeries and fountains, it is rather an interesting architectural ensemble.

The fountain at Schönbrunn Palace

In the 17th century it was a favorite hunting ground of the Austrian emperors. On the site of Schönbrunn Palace was once a manor house that belonged to the church.

Construction of the palace began in 1696, after the manor had been destroyed during another Turkish raid on Vienna. The campaign ended unsuccessfully, however, like all Ottoman attempts to conquer Austria (see article “History of Austria”), but there was plenty of destruction.

Construction was not completely finished until 1743, since then the palace looks exactly as you can see it now.

In 1752 there was founded a menagerie, which is still in operation today, but as a zoo. This is the oldest zoo in the world. Schönbrunn Zoo is renowned for its many achievements in the breeding of wild animals in captivity. The most recent such achievement was in September 2019 – here, for the first time in Europe, they learned how to breed Japanese Emperor butterflies.

If you come to Vienna with a tour group, you will simply be taken here by bus. If you came to the Austrian capital on your own, the easiest way to get here is to take the Viennese subway. The station is called “Schonbrunn” and is located on the branch U4 (green).

For a Russian subway map, see our article “Vienna Metro”.

From the subway station to Schönbrunn Palace can be walked on foot, the distance is about 200 meters. There is another subway station nearby called “Heitzing”, but it is a little further.

To visit different parts of the palace requires separate tickets. The ticketing system is quite complicated. One must separately buy a ticket to the main palace, and you can pay for two different programs, full (Grand Tour) and a shortened (Imperial Tour), the tickets cost 20 and 16 euros.

A schematic diagram of Schönbrunn Palace

Visiting the zoo and labyrinth must be paid separately – 28 euros.

To see the Imperial Gardens and the Glorietta (the triumphal arch on the hill) you need separate tickets for 4,5 euros each. To see the apple strudel making costs another 6 and separate tickets are available for the stables and greenhouse.

Do not buy all the tickets at once, it is better to think about how much time you want to spend at the palace. The area is large enough, and it is possible that you get tired of walking, and the desire to visit all the places in Sörnbrunn simply disappears.

The easiest way to buy a general ticket, which will give the opportunity to walk everywhere except the zoo. It costs 26.5 euros for an adult and 16.5 euros for a child (from 6 to 18 years), and you can walk as much as you want throughout the whole territory.

Electric trains moving through the park

There are special trains that take tourists around the area. They do not fit in the style of the park at all, both in color and shape, looks terrible in our opinion.

If you don’t want to go somewhere, you can drive there. It costs another 8 euros, for this money you can ride them all day. The train goes by a certain route, which is written on its roof, the route goes in a circle around all the interesting places in the palace.

Summing up all of the above, it occurs to me that the entire palace is one big conveyor belt for emptying the wallets of tourists. To see everything in the palace, will have to lay out about 50 euros per person. Prices in Austria “bite”.

Horse-drawn carriage

For those tourists who want to spend even more money, the palace offers a special distinction. You can take a ride around the territory in a horse-drawn carriage.

We will not say how much this pleasure costs, as our article already looks more like a price list than an interesting overview for tourists. So, let’s say briefly, it costs a lot. But to be honest, it is not very convenient, because the coachman will not stop everywhere at your request if you want to have a better look at something.

Let’s talk about each interesting place in the palace grounds in order, and we’ll start with the main building itself. Near it you can see the fountains with very beautiful statues, one of which you see in the first photo in this article.

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The main building itself is in the Baroque style (like the whole palace). This was the place of permanent residence and work of the emperors of Austria of the Habsburg dynasty. The palace has more than a thousand different rooms, but only 40 of them are available for viewing.

Summer palace at Schoenbrunn

Among these rooms are the offices where the emperors worked, the bedrooms and the guest rooms. It is strictly forbidden to take photos inside, but all tourists are offered to buy postcards and photos at the exit. We were not interested in the prices. After visiting the ticket office we have developed an immunity to price tags.

The interiors inside are very beautiful, only the emperors of such a major empire as the Austro-Hungarian Empire could afford it. Schönbrunn Palace was built following the example of Versailles in France, in many ways similar to it, and the Habsburgs wanted to surpass the French. Whether or not it succeeded is up to you to decide.

Interior of Palais Schönbrunn

Recall that you can buy a ticket to all 40 available rooms, or you can buy a ticket for a shorter program of 22 rooms. Touring all 40 rooms is quite difficult, it is tiring, but also interesting. Usually, the palace itself is seen first, in which case it is worth remembering that you still have a walk through a huge park ahead of you.

The second place you come to once you’re in the garden is the “Crown Prince’s Garden”, it’s just a very beautiful place, there’s nothing special about it, just a pleasant stroll through the garden.

Crown Prince Garden

There’s a lot of greenery and flowers, but they’re just ordinary flowers and the most ordinary plants. All the most unusual specimens of flora are collected in another place, which is called the greenhouse.

Citrus trees

Some of it can be seen without a separate ticket. Lemons, mandarins, and other citrus plants grow outdoors.

We were lucky enough to get here just as the fruits were ripening in the summer. Plucking the fruit is strictly prohibited, it says on a special plaque in several languages. In Russian there is no inscription on it, and this is a serious mistake, it seems to us.

In any case, we did not try to pluck the lemons, in case we get fined. In Europe, it’s the order of the day and the fines can be very significant, it’s better not to risk it.

Citrus trees are not adapted to exist in such a cold climate. Therefore, the trees are taken outdoors only in the summer, not even planted in the open soil, they stand in special large pots. Create orangeries in the gardens of palaces in the 18th century was considered a sign of luxury.

The orangery in the park at Schönbrunn Palace was founded in 1755 and has been used to grow plants ever since, including in greenhouses. The greenhouses were made for growing flowers even in winter. They are here to this day.

Greenhouse

The most unusual greenhouse is called Palmenhaus (Palm House), it is a very interesting greenhouse of great height, inside really grow palm trees.

Ancient statue of Jason returning the Golden Fleece to Greece.

Walking through the territory, it is impossible not to notice the large number of statues in the antique style.

In total there are thirty-two of them in the park, they depict the ancient Greek gods and heroes. Some are easy to recognize, some are not.

In the photo on the left you see the hero holding a sheep skin on his arm. Probably the easiest to recognize him is Jason, who together with his companions went to Colchis (an ancient state, presumably in the area of modern Armenia and Georgia) to return the Golden Fleece to Greece.

Many readers have seen the Soviet cartoon about the journey of Jason and the Argonauts, very high quality indeed. But, we do not recommend reading the original legend without serious need, perhaps of all the ancient Greek legends it is the bloodiest.

The other characters and characters are not as recognizable, especially to those not interested in ancient history.

Whether you recognize the characters or not, in any case it is worth admiring the statues, they are beautiful in their own right, even if you don’t know exactly who they depict.

The next place of interest for tourists is the labyrinth, or rather two labyrinths. One has high walls, the other lower. The first labyrinth with high walls is not very interesting, you just have to walk through it, do not get lost.

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The Labyrinth

The second one, which you see in the photo above, is much more fun, it has branches and mirrors in the center. Especially fun around the mirrors tourists with cameras, you can get a photo with several images of a person in one frame.

Scheme of the labyrinth

These two labyrinths also differ in names. They are called in German “irrgarten” and “labyrinth”, and in English “maze” and “labyrinth”.

At first glance it is quite unclear why these two labyrinths have different names? In Russian they are both called labyrinths, we have no difference.

But in English and German there is a difference. Labyrinth has no branches, you can not get lost in it, an example is shown in the photo on the right.

The Maze (aka irrgarten) is branching and easy to get lost in, which is why it has low walls in Schönbrunn Palace.

At the end of the path at the top of the hill is the Gloriette. It’s a large triumphal arch built by Empress Maria Theresia to the glory of the Habsburg dynasty. From here you can now admire the view of Vienna and have a seat in a cafe.

The Great Arc de Triomphe - Gloriette

Tourists go up to the roof of the building, where there is an observation deck, in addition the majestic statues on top can be seen up close.

And the last place in the park that we would like to tell you more about is called the “obelisk fountain”.

It was built in 1777, and this particular architectural composition can be called unique, we haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else.

Such obelisks were erected in ancient Egypt, the obelisks of pharaoh Ramses II and queen Hatshepsut in the Karnak temple in Luxor are especially famous. On them the pharaohs recorded their deeds and great accomplishments.

The emperors of Austria-Hungary decided to do something similar. The history of the imperial house of Habsburg was written on this column.

They could not write it in ancient Egyptian, as the hieroglyphic language of the ancient Egyptians had not been deciphered yet; the Rosetta Stone (which gave the key to read the ancient symbols) was found only in 1822.

A synthetic language of symbols and signs was used, rather reminiscent of the language of pictures. Trying to read it without knowing the true history of the Habsburg dynasty makes no sense, nothing is clear.

The statues in the fountain below are in Greek antique style, the obelisk itself in Egyptian, so the composition looks a little strange, but for most tourists it does not matter seriously.

There are live squirrels in the park. They are not afraid of people, although they do not let themselves be touched.

But if you want to see the animals, it is better to go to the zoo at Schönbrunn. Here you can even see the big panda, which is a rarity in Europe, the big pandas are only seven European zoos. In 2007 here for the first time in Europe appeared a baby panda.

A squirrel in the park of Schönbrunn Palace

The most interesting attraction for tourists in the Zoo at Schönbrunn is the feeding of animals. Total includes 11 feeding sessions of different animals. At 10-00 they feed the elephants, and then every 30 minutes until 16-00. A separate ticket to the zoo costs 20 euros.

Important tips

– If you buy tickets in advance through the website, you will save time in queues. You can show the ticket at the entrance directly on your smartphone screen;

– If you come as a family, take the Family Ticket, a savings of up to 50%;

– To understand how to dress for each of the seasons for a walk in Schönbrunn, read our article “Weather in Vienna by Month”;

– If you’re going to take a cab instead of the subway, see the fares in Vienna in our article “Taxis in Austria.”

– On holidays, Schönbrunn is open, but there can be a lot of people. For a schedule of holidays, see our article “National Holidays in Austria”.

Enjoy your walks in Vienna’s palaces, and read our articles about Austria (links below).

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.

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Schoenbrunn Palace

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.

Layout of Schoenbrunn Palace

Historical Info

Until the end of the 16th century, the land where Schönbrunn Castle would rise more than a hundred years later belonged to the Burgomaster of Vienna, who later decided to sell the property to the Austrian Emperor Maximilian II. 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”).

Schoenbrunn Castle in 1672

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.

Schönbrunn under 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 Palace in Vienna have an excellent opportunity to get to know the life and times of the imperial Habsburg dynasty. Tourists have access to 40 rooms, of which the most noteworthy are:

  1. The 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. The Salon of Empress Elisabeth. In 1854 the interiors of the chambers were reconstructed in the Rococo style and decorated with its inherent white and gold trim. For a long time the salon served as the reception room of the sovereign, where she gave an audience to her petitioners.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. The Yellow Salon. This name of the salon is primarily due to its decor. The apartments are decorated with furniture of golden silk, and their walls are decorated with gilded moldings.
  10. 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
  11. 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 made in the Rococo style.
  12. Small Gallery. Built at the same time as the Grand 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
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. 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.
  16. 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. Vieux Laque Chamber
  17. Vieux Laque Chamber. The chamber was once the private study of Emperor Franz I. When the sovereign passed away, Maria Theresa decided to dedicate the room to her husband’s memory and transformed it into a memorial salon.
  18. 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
  19. 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.
  20. 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. Today there are several portraits of members of the Habsburg dynasty.
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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 since then has been a popular attraction for Austrians and foreign travelers alike. 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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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 reached Austria only at the end of the century.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Carriage Museum. If you are interested in seeing authentic imperial carriages, then be sure to check out this small gallery.
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Practical information

  • Address: Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Vienna, Austria.
  • How to get there: The palace in Vienna can be reached by subway, line U4 (exit at Schönbrunn station). Streetcars (no. 10, no. 58) and buses (no. 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 €

Useful hints

Schönbrunn Train

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Ideal for a visit to Schönbrunn in Vienna will be the summer months, when you can fully enjoy a stroll through the park.
  4. It is worth remembering that videos and photos are not allowed in Schoenbrunn Palace.
  5. 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.
  6. 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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