One of the most famous palaces of Vienna in Austria is the Schönbrunn Palace. Words fail to describe how majestically the palace showcases one of the most magnificent baroque architectures in all of Europe. It was a moment of pure wonder during a European vacation I embarked on with my family. My eyes feasted on that grand sight during one of the European vacation I spent there with my family.
The grandeur of the architecture, the rich history wrapped within its walls and the natural beauty that surrounds it all make Schonbrunn Palace top the list of things to do in Vienna. I walked mesmerized in the place where the stories of emperors and empresses intertwine with the melodies of classical music, where the echoes of lavish balls and cultural refinement reverberate through time.
Its rich history traces back to 1696 when it was constructed to commemorate the Habsburg Emperors' triumphant victory over the Turks in 1683. Their previous summer residence, the old Imperial residence, was damaged drastically after the Battle of Vienna. Today it is ranked in the prestigious list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The palace is surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens spanning over 1.2 sqkm. Such a huge area; it can be quite overwhelming on deciding what to see in Schloss Schnbrunn in short time. Here are the main sights to see during your tour of the Vienna Palace.
Schonbrunn Palace inside
There are 1,500 rooms adorned with delicate baroque and rococo art in the palace, but is it really possible to visit all?! Head to the first floor where you have access to 40 rooms, including the impressive Great Gallery. It gave a comprehensive glimpse into the lives of key Habsburg figures such as Empress Maria Theresa, Emperor Francis Joseph, and Empress Sissi (Elisabeth).
The rooms have white ceilings and furnishings embellished with golden accents. There are French-style chairs in red damask, magnificent crystal and golden chandeliers, Belgian tapestries, monumental landscape paintings, and portraits of the Imperial family adorning the walls. It was interesting to note that mirrors were strategically placed to create an illusion of spaciousness in certain rooms, enhancing the overall opulence.
Don’t miss the Chinese-style rooms, which are adorned with blue and white porcelain vases and black lacquered panels. Walk on to explore the grand ballrooms or the more intimate rooms. The family dining room – also known as Marie Antoinette room was another interesting room. Jaw dropping sights all!
This tour of the Schonbrunn palace interior can take at least couple of hours if not more; depends a lot on your interests.
The only saddest part of the visit was that - no photography is permitted inside Schonbrunn Palace. There is a provision for professional filming and photographers; however they have to apply for permission from management up to three weeks in advance of visit.
Beyond its architectural splendour and cultural significance, Schonbrunn is reputed for another remarkable achievement, guess what?! It became home to the world's first zoo in 1752.
The establishment of this zoological garden showcased the Habsburgs' curiosity about the natural world and their desire to collect and exhibit a diverse range of animal species. The Schönbrunn Zoo, with its lush gardens and captivating wildlife, has continued to delight visitors for centuries, offering an immersive and educational experience.
This makes the visit to Schoenbrunn Palace worthwhile with kids.
The Schonbrunn Gardens are an enchanting and expansive landscape that beautifully complements the grandeur of Schönbrunn Palace. The harmonious blend of meticulously manicured lawns, ornamental flowerbeds- a symphony of colours and scents, and impressive architectural features enhances the delightful experience. Most of it is free for all visitors. Be warned that a tour of this garden can easily consume two hours and more.
The Great Parterre, one of the focal points of the Schönbrunn Gardens, is a vast area adorned with meticulously designed flower beds, statues, and fountains. Its geometric patterns create a visual spectacle, while the cascading water from the fountains adds a soothing ambiance.
The Crown Prince Gardens, located adjacent to the palace, offer a similar serene retreat. Explore the Maze, a labyrinthine green space that challenges you to find your way through its twists and turns. It's a playful and interactive experience especially with kids.
The Palm House is another highlight within the gardens. This impressive glass structure houses a vast collection of exotic plants creating a tropical oasis, a world of lush greenery, colourful blooms, and a humid atmosphere, in the heart of Vienna. This is a ticketed place.
Architectural gems such as the Neptune Fountain and the Roman Ruin add a touch of grandeur and historical significance to the landscape, further enhancing the overall charm of the gardens.
The Gloriette, a regal crown for Schloss Schönbrunn, is a stunning panoramic vantage point. This was constructed approximately a century after the palace. From here you can get breath-taking views over the baroque gardens, the Habsburg Palace, and Vienna City. Please note, this place is accessible between April and November. It provides an ideal spot to take in the surrounding beauty during the summer months.
The gardens provide a respite from the bustling city, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the tranquillity of nature and revel in the beauty that surrounds them.