Schönbrunn Palace is a stunning Baroque palace located in the heart of Vienna, Austria. Built in the 18th century as a summer residence for the Habsburg dynasty, the palace has been beautifully preserved and is now open to visitors from all around the world. Its grand architecture and exquisite gardens have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and it’s easy to see why. With over 1.5 million visitors annually, Schönbrunn Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vienna.
Visiting Schönbrunn Palace should be at the top of your Vienna itinerary for many reasons. Firstly, the palace is an important part of Austrian history, and offers a glimpse into the lives of the Habsburg dynasty. It’s also a stunning example of Baroque architecture and design, with intricate details and lavish decorations throughout the palace. Additionally, the palace gardens offer a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, with stunning views and peaceful walkways. Finally, the palace hosts various events throughout the year, including concerts and shows, making it a versatile destination that has something for everyone.
In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the history of Schönbrunn Palace, exploring its connection to the Habsburg dynasty and the events that took place within its walls. We’ll also provide an in-depth guide to touring the palace, including entrance fees and hours of operation, as well as highlighting the must-see areas of the palace. The palace gardens are equally impressive, and we’ll take you on a journey through the Great Parterre, the Neptune Fountain, and the Gloriette, offering tips on how to make the most of your visit. Additionally, we’ll showcase the various activities and experiences available at Schönbrunn Palace, including attending a concert at the Orangery, visiting the Schönbrunn Zoo, and trying traditional Austrian cuisine at the café or restaurant. Finally, we’ll provide practical tips and advice for visiting the palace, including the best time to visit, what to wear and bring, and accessibility information. Get ready to be transported to a world of regal splendor and beauty, as we explore the wonders of Schönbrunn Palace.
History of Schönbrunn Palace
Background on the Habsburg dynasty and their connection to the palace
The Habsburg dynasty, one of the most powerful ruling families in Europe, played a significant role in the history of Schönbrunn Palace. The palace was originally commissioned by Emperor Leopold I in the late 17th century, as a hunting lodge and escape from the city for the royal family. However, it was Maria Theresa, the only female ruler of the Habsburg dynasty, who transformed Schönbrunn into the grand palace it is today. She used the palace as her primary summer residence and oversaw the addition of many of the Baroque elements that make the palace so impressive.
Timeline of the palace’s construction and renovations
Construction of Schönbrunn Palace began in 1696, and the palace went through several phases of construction and renovation over the next century. During Maria Theresa’s reign, the palace was significantly expanded and renovated, with the addition of the Grand Gallery, the Hall of Mirrors, and the Million Room, which were used for grand balls and celebrations. The palace was also modernized with the installation of a central heating system, plumbing, and electricity. In the early 20th century, the palace was used as the residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination in 1914 sparked the beginning of World War I.
Notable events that took place at Schönbrunn Palace
Throughout its history, Schönbrunn Palace has been the site of many important events. One of the most significant was the signing of the Treaty of Schönbrunn in 1809, which marked the end of the War of the Fifth Coalition between Napoleon and the Austrian Empire. The palace was also the birthplace of many members of the Habsburg dynasty, including Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife Empress Elisabeth, who were married at the palace in 1854. Today, the palace is still used for state occasions, such as meetings with foreign leaders, and is a popular location for concerts and cultural events.
Touring Schönbrunn Palace
Entrance fees and hours of operation
When planning your visit to Schönbrunn Palace, it’s important to note the entrance fees and hours of operation. The palace is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, while the gardens are open daily from 6.30 am to 7 pm. It’s recommended to check the official website of the Schönbrunn Palace, https://www.imperialtickets.com/en/, for updated information regarding opening hours and admission fees.
Self-guided versus guided tours
Visitors have the option of choosing a self-guided tour or a guided tour when exploring Schönbrunn Palace. A self-guided tour allows you to explore the palace at your own pace, while a guided tour offers more in-depth information about the history and significance of the palace. It’s important to note that guided tours may have limited availability and require advanced booking.
Highlights of the palace tour, including:
The Imperial Apartments at Schönbrunn Palace were the living quarters of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth (Sisi). The apartments are exquisitely decorated with lavish furnishings and offer a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the Habsburg monarchy.
The Grand Gallery is one of the largest and most impressive rooms in the palace. It was used for concerts, balls, and banquets during the Habsburg era. The room is adorned with ornate stucco decorations and beautiful frescoes.
Marie Antoinette Room
The Marie Antoinette Room was the bedroom of the famous Austrian Archduchess and Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. The room is decorated with a beautiful Rococo style and features portraits of Marie Antoinette and her children.
Hall of Mirrors
The Hall of Mirrors is one of the most iconic rooms in the palace. It’s named for its numerous mirrors that reflect the light from the crystal chandeliers, creating a dazzling effect. The room was often used for concerts, balls, and other grand events during the Habsburg era.
Exploring the Gardens and Grounds
Overview of the Schönbrunn Palace Gardens
The Schönbrunn Palace Gardens are as magnificent as the palace itself, featuring 1.2 km² of beautifully manicured lawns, trees, and flowers. The gardens were originally designed in the 17th century by Jean Trehet and later redesigned in the 18th century by the famous landscape architect Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg. Visitors can explore the gardens and grounds free of charge or purchase tickets to visit the different attractions within the garden.
The Great Parterre and the Crown Prince Garden
One of the most impressive features of the Schönbrunn Palace Gardens is the Great Parterre, a large formal garden with perfectly symmetrical flower beds and hedges. The garden is located in front of the palace and offers stunning views of the palace’s façade. The Crown Prince Garden is another highlight of the gardens, named after Crown Prince Rudolf. The garden features a large circular pond and is surrounded by a beautiful collection of flowers and plants.
The Neptune Fountain and the Obelisk Fountain
The gardens are also home to two impressive fountains: the Neptune Fountain and the Obelisk Fountain. The Neptune Fountain is located in the center of the gardens and features a large marble statue of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. The Obelisk Fountain, on the other hand, is located in the eastern part of the garden and features a tall obelisk surrounded by several smaller fountains.
The Gloriette and the views from the hilltop
The Gloriette is a large hilltop structure that offers breathtaking views of the palace and the surrounding gardens. The structure was originally built in the 18th century as a dining hall and was later used as a military hospital during World War II. Visitors can climb to the top of the Gloriette and enjoy panoramic views of Vienna and the palace gardens. The area around the Gloriette is also home to several walking paths, making it a popular spot for hiking and picnicking.
Activities at Schönbrunn Palace
Attend a concert or show at the Orangery
Schönbrunn Palace also houses the Orangery, a stunning venue that hosts concerts and shows throughout the year. From classical music concerts to contemporary performances, the Orangery offers a diverse range of events that are sure to impress any culture lover. During the summer months, the palace also hosts an annual open-air concert series in the palace park. With the palace as the backdrop, this is a unique and unforgettable experience that is not to be missed.
Visit the Schönbrunn Zoo
Located just a short walk from the palace, the Schönbrunn Zoo is a must-see attraction for animal lovers. Founded in 1752, it is the oldest zoo in the world and is home to over 700 species of animals, including giant pandas, elephants, and orangutans. The zoo also offers special experiences, such as behind-the-scenes tours and animal encounters, which allow visitors to get up close and personal with the animals.
Experience the Children’s Museum
The Children’s Museum at Schönbrunn Palace offers a fun and educational experience for kids of all ages. The museum is designed to teach children about life in the imperial court through interactive exhibits and hands-on activities. From dressing up in period costumes to learning how to dance like a prince or princess, there is something for every child to enjoy. The museum is open daily and is located in the palace’s former breakfast room.
Try traditional Austrian cuisine at the café or restaurant
No visit to Schönbrunn Palace is complete without sampling some of the traditional Austrian cuisine on offer. The palace has a number of cafes and restaurants that serve delicious Viennese specialties, such as Wiener Schnitzel, Sachertorte, and Apfelstrudel. One of the most popular options is Café Gloriette, which is located at the top of the hill behind the palace and offers stunning views of the city.
Tips for Visiting Schönbrunn Palace
Getting to the palace
Schönbrunn Palace is easily accessible via public transportation. Visitors can take the U4 subway line to the Schönbrunn stop, which is a short walk from the palace. Alternatively, there are several bus and tram lines that stop near the palace entrance. For those driving, there is a parking lot available for a fee.
Best time to visit
Schönbrunn Palace is a popular attraction and can get crowded, especially during peak tourist season. To avoid long lines and crowds, it’s best to visit early in the morning or in the late afternoon. The palace is also less crowded on weekdays, so consider planning your visit for a weekday if possible.
What to wear and bring
Comfortable shoes are a must when visiting the palace, as there is a lot of walking involved. Dressing in layers is also recommended, as the palace can get chilly inside. It’s also a good idea to bring sunscreen and a hat during the summer months, as the gardens can be quite sunny.
Schönbrunn Palace and its gardens are accessible to visitors with disabilities. The palace has wheelchair ramps and an elevator for those who need it. Additionally, there are wheelchairs available for rent at the entrance. Visitors with disabilities can also bring a companion with them free of charge.
Closing Travel Thoughts
Schönbrunn Palace is a stunning historical landmark and a must-visit attraction for anyone traveling to Vienna. With its rich history, breathtaking architecture, and extensive gardens, Schönbrunn Palace offers visitors an unforgettable experience that truly captures the essence of Vienna’s imperial past. From the grandeur of the Imperial Apartments and the awe-inspiring Hall of Mirrors to the tranquil beauty of the palace gardens and the many activities available on-site, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
At Expedigate, we hope that this guide has provided you with a comprehensive overview of Schönbrunn Palace, including its history, highlights, and practical information for planning your visit. We believe that visiting this magnificent palace is a must-do activity in Vienna and a perfect way to immerse yourself in the city’s rich cultural heritage. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Schönbrunn Palace today and experience the magic of Vienna for yourself!