Top 10 Facts about the Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens in Austria
Schönbrunn Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Palace is in Vienna, Austria. It is a 1,441-room Rococo palace and is one of the most significant architectural, cultural, and historic monuments in Austria.
As one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city, Schönbrunn Palace has been home to several Habsburg monarchs.
The architecture of the palace is a true testament to the sense of style of the monarchs. They used the palace as their summer home. They would stay here during the hunting season.
This is one of the most impressive palaces that boasts of Baroque architectural design. It is a very significant cultural monument in Vienna and Austria too.
Here are the top 10 facts about Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens, in Austria.
1. Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens was used as a hunting lodge
The Palace was commissioned in 1696 by Emperor Leopold I. Before the change of name, the Palace was known as Katterburg. This was back in the 14th century when it was still used as a hunting lodge.
This palace was a hunting lodge for Hapsburg monarchs from the 17th century. It, therefore, holds an important cultural reference in Austria.
The palace was built to resemble the one in Versailles. However, this palace turned out to be the biggest in Austria.
With every new monarch, they redecorated and renovated it. Maria Theresa influenced her husband, Joseph I, to extend the palace.
They hosted many European statemen making the palace the centre for political matters.
2. Two architects designed the Palace
Schönbrunn Palace is one of the most impressive Baroque palaces in Europe. It was designed by Baroque architects Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Nicolaus Pacassi.
The palace was to be a hunting lodge for the crown prince Joseph I. Phase one of the construction work began in 1743 and was completed in 1749.
Nikolaus Pacassi was the lead of the project. He was a very talented architect. Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach was trained in Rome.
Together with his wife, Maria Theresa, they expanded the palace. Unfortunately, Joseph, I died in 1711. Construction was stalled after his death.
3. The French garden is a great part of the Palace
Part of this beautiful palace is its gardens. One of them, the French garden, is a green sculpted space between the palace and the Neptune Fountain.
This garden is known as the Great Parterre. A big part of the garden was landscaped by Jean Treat.
He was a disciple of André Le Nôtre. A fascinating part of the garden is the maze.
Other than the maze, there is a Tiergarten erected around 1755. The western part of the palace was turned into English gardens between 1828 and 1852.
There is also a play and drill area for children since the 19th century.
It was also common to use gardens as training grounds by the military. Part of the garden that no longer exists is a miniature bastion.
4. There is a Roman ruin at the Palace
The Roman ruin in Schonbrunn Palace was known as the Ruin of Carthage. This Roman ruin was designed by architect Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg.
It was built in 1778 and was a new addition to the Palace. The architect placed it in the parking area of the palace. It was meant to be a picturesque horticultural feature.
Unfortunately, it was not well maintained and turned into the ruin it is today. The ruin was made from recycled rubble from Schloss Neugbaude.
Today, it is a picturesque ruin that influenced the widespread of the Romantic movement. It was built at the same time as the Obelisk Fountain.
5. The Gloriette is a monument to Just War
Empress Maria Theresa commissioned the design of the Gloriette. She wanted it to glorify Habsburg power and the Just War.
It was also made from recycled stones that were left after the demolition of Schloss Neugebäude. The Gloriette stands atop Schönbrunn hill.
This Gloriette is a memorial for those that died during the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years’ War.
6. The Zoo at the Palace is the oldest
It was founded in 1752 making it one of the oldest zoos in the world. The animals in the zoo are however not that old, they are young and among rare species.
More than 2 billion tourists visit the zoo annually since it is a popular one in Europe. This zoo is home to more than 700 animals and sits on 17 hectares of land.
Some of the most popular animals in the park are meerkats, red panda, tigers, penguins, seals and giraffes.
During World War II, the zoo suffered a lot of damage from the bombing. Several animals died.
Another highlight of the zoo is the rainforest house. It is a huge glass house on a mountain slope. A stroll into this house gives one a rainforest vibe.
7. It survived World War II bombing
The Palace had been neglected for a period of time due to the rise and fall of the empire. It also survived the WW II bombing; the nuke was thrown through the roof. The bomb did not explode after landing on the third floor of the palace.
Vienna was bombed more than 52 times during World War II. A section of the city was destroyed during the war.
8. There is a museum at the Palace too
One of the most overlooked places in the Palace is the museum. The museum is known as Wagenburg and houses an unbelievable collection.
Part of the collection are carriages that were used to transport the royal families together with their friends, allies and workers.
The highlight of the museum is the Golden Carousel Carriage. It was used by Maria Theresia, Joseph I wife.
Another one is an attraction in the museum is the Child’s Phaeton. It was used by Napoleon’s son. These two attract lots of transport enthusiasts.
There is a Children’s Museum too. It has exhibitions in 12 rooms that showcase the life of Maria Theresa reign. They are very interactive and children always love it there.
9. Schonbrunn means beautiful spring
Schönbrunn literally means “beautiful spring” in German. There is a local legend that says the manor was named after a water source.
Emperor Matthias discovered the water source while hunting on the property in 1612. The original palace was built by Eleonora of Gonzaga, the wife of Matthias’ successor in 1642.
Later on, the palace was named Schönbrunn. It is more than 300 years old. It reflects the different likes and interests of the Habsburg monarchs.
10. Mozart performed at the Palace aged 6
Mozart was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical period. Together with Salieri, a pivotal figure in the development of the late 18th-century opera used to perform in Schönbrunn.
The two performed at the impressive Orangery together with the Schönbrunn Palace Orchestra and Ensemble. Mozart was only 6 years old.
His performance for empress Maria Theresa is one of the most memorable concerts.