The Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn comprise an 18th century Baroque Gesamtkunstwerk and symbol of Habsburg power.
Schönbrunn Palace is the former Habsburg summer residence. Empress Maria Theresia choose Schönbrunn as her main residence. She added the theatre and the garden to make her stay more enjoyable. And inside, she refurbished the rooms in baroque and rococo style.
In the palace garden there are several other interesting buildings. One of those is the green steel Palm House, constructed in 1882 in the tradition of Eiffel. Or the Neptune-fountain, with its group of Greek-Roman statues. It also includes the first zoo in the world.
Map of SchönbrunnLoad map
I visited Schonbrunn around 4-5 times, and I would say I go there only occasionally, because it is relatively far away from the city center, well still it is conveniently located on the metro line from Karlsplatz. I must say I used to dislike the type of building and structures among which Schonbrunn is the crown jewel. I mean huge baroque castles and endless highly symmetrical gardens. Now, with age, I enjoy it indeed! For example one sunny Sunday in October 2021. However, I am still too young to start exploring even the interior of the Schonbrunn castle. Thus, I ascended to Gloriette during my last visit, and went to Café Gloriette, which is one of the most beautiful cafes I know (PHOTO).
The 18th century summer palace and gardens of Schönbrunn are not as remote now from the city of Vienna as they were when first constructed by the Habsburgs. This was one of the first sites my siblings and I saw when we made our pilgrimage to Vienna in the fall of 2003, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. The palace was richly decorated by Empress Maria Theresa with chandeliers and paintings and richly paneled rooms gilded in Rococo designs. We took audio tours, which provided a useful history of the rooms and residents of the palace (especially helpful for those not as familiar with the Habsburgs). Once finished, my siblings and I went outside and enjoyed a partially sunny afternoon wandering through the gardens and up the hill to the Gloriette, a beautifully symmetrical building offering an exceptional view of Vienna. Although the gardens were not as extensive as Versailles or the Peterhof Palace, they were still impressive, and provided a peaceful interlude to a day's worth of tours. Without a doubt, Schönbrunn palace and gardens are one of the must-see attractions in Vienna.
Logistics: Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens are accessible by public transportation via the underground, trams, or bus, but may also be reached by private transportation.
I visited this WHS in August 2015. Its proximity to Vienna's Historic Centre and the fact that it includes one of the world's oldest zoos mean that it attracts huge hoards of tourists and families. Luckily its gardens are truly immense so it still can be visited at leisure without being constantly in the presence of groups. That said, after my nightmare experiences visiting the interior of other WHS palaces such as Versailles, I decided not to go in the palace. Instead I bought tickets for the private gardens and the Gloriette terrace. The gardens are kept in tip top condition however it's a shame that for every structure/section present you have to fork out money. There is a fee charged to visit the palm house or the cacti collection which is really too much and not value for moneyt when compared to other gardens on the list such as Kew Gardens. The highlight of my visit was the panoramic view of the palace with Vienna's historic centre in the background from on top of the Gloriette terrace. I was glad to pay 3.50 euro here to enjoy the view in some peace and quiet. All in all, I'm glad I visited Schonbrunn but to say the truth I felt it has become too much of a tourist trap (the neverending queue of people each paying 50cents to go to the toilet at the entrance, when there are free toilets a couple of metres further on next to the palace interior entrance speaks for itself!) and I think I would prefer to visit the Belvedere Palace should I visit Vienna again in the near future.
John M Eschenbaum
I lived in Vienna as a young man in 1973-74 living in the 13th Bezerk or district. The strassenbahn we took everyday passed by the Schonbrunn from top a hill looking down onto the front of the palace. My friends and I would take a stroll through the gardens as it is quite immense. We were told on tour that the grounds are larger then the country of Monaco. The grandeur of the grounds from all views are spectacular. The tour inside was fascinating in that I love history. On living there we read many history books on the Hapsburgs and the nation. Maria Theresa built it and she also had wars going for 13 years. Royalty were challenging on who could built the most opulent palace. The nobility would complain to Empress Maria Theresa on the cost of the construction along with being hit with the war costs. Her reply to them was not to worry, "the Jews are paying for it." She hit them on on the taxes. The bombing of Vienna in WWII 269 bombs hit the grounds and only one hit the 'main palace' shattering one end of the grand ballroom with the fresco ceiling. What a miracle. Though in reading the west wing was hit bad.
The interior was seemingly as Maria Theresa left it. Typical over the top luxury with stories to go. I learned the Duke of Reichstadt, who was Napoleon's son, his mother being Maria Louise daughter to the Emperor of Austria lived there after his father abdicated. He died when 21 yrs. from TB.
Being there many times are memories live with me. What a place, what a time.
In May 2007 after finishing school I visted Vienna for the first time. The weather was gorgeous and the fountains, flowers and squirrels were interacting perfectly. Also the visit to the Zoo was a good thing to do. Next vist was March 2010. Unfortunately cold and raining.
One of the most beautiful castle gardens in Europe.
Schonbrunn Palace was a great experience. We were able to travel there by train and when you first view it from the outside; I think it looks a bit tired. Once you start exploring and touring, your opinion changes. The garden was nice but not overly done. the yellow of the palace gives it a different appearance in different light. The interior was beautifully decorated. It is definitely a place to visit when in vienna.
I remember one winter afternoon when I went for a walk in the gardens of Schoenbrunn with my then boyfriend, my sister and her boyfriend and we started throwing snowballs at each other. It was so much fun and I wondered, if the Habsburgs ever had such fun here.
I have been once to the Schönbrunn castle, summer residence of the Habsburg emperors from the 18th century to 1918, a Rococo masterpiece projected by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and situated in a quarter of Vienna, Hietzing (on the right bank of the river Wien), that was at the time a forest zone. Nicola Pacassi projected the yellow fronts for the empress Mary Theresa. The castle was reconstructed by J. Aman and then damaged in the second war. It was also the residence of Napoleon in Austria and there took place the Congress of Vienna and some of meetings of Kennedy and Kruscev. From the main entrance formed by two obelisks and an iron fence you pass to the court, where are two fountains and low buildings; between them is the theatre, projected by Pacassi. Above all there is the main front, 175 m long, with a lot of columns and windows. In the castle there are a lot of royal rooms, divided in many parts (of Mary Theresa, of Francis Joseph, of Joseph II, of Francis Charles and Sophie of Bavaria and Bergl Rooms) with original furniture and frescos; the nicest rooms are the Great Gallery, the Million Room and the chapel. To the castle belong also the coach houses, the stables, the Physician House and the longest Orangery (186m) in the world, used for cultivation of exotic plants and for special events. The park is 120 hectares large and have everywhere perspective avenues, statues and fountains; it starts with two private imperial gardens. The Great Parterre has a lot of geometric flower beds, statues and alignments of trees and brings to the beautiful Neptune fountain and behind it, to the Gloriette, a neo-classical colonnade on a hill with a vast meadow. Near that is the Fasan Garden and the labyrinth. On the lateral avenues there are the Naiad Fountain, the Nice Fountain, that gives name to the castle, and two false remains constructed in romantic style: the Roman Ruin and the Egyptian Obelisk. In the botanical garden there are two beautiful monuments: the Great Palm House (114 m long), made by glass and iron, and the Sundial House. Near that is the first zoo in the world, founded in 1752 by Francis Stephen, with a nice pavilion and twelve original animal houses around it.
The castle is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen because of the beauty of the architecture, its rooms and its park. It's absolutely worth to be visited also because it is the most beautiful castle and park in Austria and justifies the inscription also because its historical importance.
Photo: Vienna - Schönbrunn castle
Although completely off-season, there were quite a number of other tourists around in Schönbrunn. Walking from room to room caught between two Spanish tour groups is no fun.
However, I experienced that the best things are to be seen outside anyway. Starting with the formidable yellow palace building itself. The colour of the buildings to the left and right is a shade darker, and shiny in the February sun. We spent quite some time walking in the huge garden, climbing to the Pavilion Gloriette. Here you can have some coffee and enjoy the view of the palace.
After visiting the Palm House, we concluded our visit at the Wagenburg. Old carriages are shown here: little ones for the princes and princesses, and big black ones used at funerals. Until 1918, the carriages were in frequent use by the royals. The oldest in the collection even dates from the 1760s.
Vienna was a stop on my honeymoon, and the highlight of our visit was Schonnbrun Palace. The impressive gardens, ornate decor, and charming zoo made for a wonderful day and served as a reminder that it truly is good to be the king.
There are plenty of comments on the history and culture of Schönbrunn already, so just a few words on this great attraction: first of all, some people seem to believe that Schönbrunn is far outside Vienna; while this was true a few centuries ago, when the area was a hunting ground for the imperial family, it´s in the midle of town nowadays and very easy to reach by subway. Second, it cannot (or should not) be done in a short time. Sure, there are bus tours that whisk you through the palace in 30 minutes, but to really appreciate the whole complex, the better part of a day is necessary. The zoo alone, the world´s oldest, is very well worth a visit, as are the Gloriette monument (but no need to pay the extra fee as the view from the very top is only marginally superior), the Palm House, the Maze, and the Gardens (great landscaping, and for free, plus a few hidden gems like the small fountain after which the whole area was named - "beautiful fountain"). The palace itself is an architectural masterpiece, but suffers a lot from overcrowding - it is Austria´s most popular tourist attraction with over 2 million visitors last year. Especially busy in summer and December (weekends and time between Christmas and New Year), it makes sense to either reserve tickets, buy a ticket combination pass that gives you the privilege to skip the queues, or simply to come at less busy times of day, which means before 10 am or usually anytime in the afternoon. It seems 80% of visitors come between 10 and 1 o´clock. Seeing Schönbrunn in all its majesty on a sunny day (especially early in the morning) is one of Europe´s great moments, but the place has charm even in winter, when the atmospheric Christmas market is held in the palace courtyard. No visit to Vienna would be complete without going to Schönbrunn.
During the summer of 1999, I had the pleasure of spending several days in Vienna, staying with acquaintances very near to Schoenbrunn Palace. Although busy most of the time, I and some friends made a sidetrip to see the palace, originally a hunting lodge for the royal family but transformed during the reign of Maria-Theresa into a grandiose Rococo residence. One could easily be forgiven for calling this Austria's Versailles, as the gardens were originally designed by a pupil of Le Notre and the palace exhibits the same passion for the ostentatious and the sublime. Yet, it is this profligacy that lends Schoenbrunn its beauty and its character. Royal families during the 18th century were an industry in and of themselves, and there is no more telling example than the palaces they inhabited, each larger and more fabulously decorated than the next. During Maria-Theresa's reign and just beyond the Austrian empire arguably reached the heights of its influence, both upon the politics and the art of Europe. Schoenbrunn is the monument to their ascendancy.
The complex is close to the centre city and is easy to reach via underground or even walking. Regarding tickets, there are numerous options that combine various elements of the site. A relatively all-inclusive ticket costs 13 euro for students.
A dwindling budget and long summer queues meant I didn't get to go inside, which I was a little disappointed by at the time. However the outside was impressive anyway, and at the start of summer the flowers were in bloom and the fountains all cascading. This made for a really rewarding walk around the grounds. I really enjoyed the ramble up-to, and view from the Colonnade, as it enabled me to see the lay out of the grounds and provided a nice view over Vienna. This site is worth the short trip out from central Vienna, even if you don't want to pay to see the interior.
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