Schnbrunn Palace, Austria

Image by ~jjjohn~ via Flickr

Summer cottages have always been admired by wealthy Europeans, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise when Emperor Leopold I–ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire asked for a hunting lodge to be built near the old Tiergarten, or Zoo, at Schnbrunn on Viennas outskirts in 1695. The surprising part was the lavishness of his vision. He ordered Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, the greatest architect of the Baroque Era, to design a palace larger than Versailles. Due to the huge estimate given by the architect the Habsburg family settled for a more modest dwelling with only 1,441 rooms.

Schnbrunn Palace with its neighboring buildings and the huge park is one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria. The castle was build to rival French Versailles in Baroque beauty and importance.

Emperor Franz Joseph who ruled from 1848 to 1916 was born here in 1830, spent the last years of his life entirely in Schnbrunn. In 1918, the palace became the property of the new republic. In view of its historical importance, as well as its beautiful location and its gardens this palace is one of the very top sights in Vienna. Furthermore the entire complex was added to the UNESCOs world cultural heritage list.

A tour of the residence should not be missed as it gives chance to admire the magnificent apartments of Maria Theresia, her sitting rooms, bedroom and the parlor in which 6 year old Mozart used to play for the Empress, as well as the parlors and apartments of Imperial couple Franz Joseph and Sissi. The interior is an orgy of frescoed ceilings, crystal chandeliers, huge mirrors and gilded ornaments.

The majestic collection of its architecture proclaims at once to be a royal residence. The gardens, nobly and most gracefully planned, interspersed with sheets of limpid water skillfully disposed, planted with trees of the most luxuriant vegetation, and studded with the most precious marble and bronze statuary, complement most imposingly with the magnificence of the palace itself.

The park is lively with deer of all kinds, the peaceful tenants of those beautiful spots, seemingly inviting the approach of visitors. Every day and at all hours these glades and avenues are open to the public. Numberless carriages and horsemen are constantly there.

Schnbrunn Palace is one of the most significant cultural monuments in Austria and since the 1960s has also been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. Soon after the end of the monarchy the population of Vienna discovered the park as an attractive recreational area. Ultimately the palace was also opened to the public, drawing around 1.5 million visitors annually. The park and all the other attractions at Schnbrunn together see a further 5.2 million visitors each year, giving a grand total of 6.7 million visitors to the imposing palace complex each year.

The park is surrounded by pleasances, the inmates of which in the milder season are the eyewitnesses of a succession of ftes and rejoicings. The sound of those rejoicings pierces the wall of the imperial taming, and adds by its animation to the charms of the noble pile.

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