Warning: Image – heavy post.
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As mentioned, there’s not a year that passes by that we do not visit the Schloss Schönbrunn (Schönbrunn Palace). We used to live near the area so it’s inevitable but even though we’ve moved and it takes about an hour to travel there, we still do come by, even when it’s in winter, in spring, in summer and especially during fall. Most of the photos were taken in July 2009 and June of this year…it was still spring on both instances but feels like summer already.
So let’s start with the entrance. Below photo would show you the scale of the palace’s grandeur size compared to a bus and some cars. There’s no entrance fee when entering the palace grounds which makes it a favorite tourist attraction…well, not just that…the Schönbrunn itself is a UNESCO Heritage Site and is so full of history worth knowing.
The vast courtyard houses a theater, a cafe, fountains with a cobblestone path leading to the palace’s front balcony. The balcony leads to the ballroom, which unfortunately, I could not show for prohibition of taking photos inside the palace. As noted from last week’s post, the Schönbrunn palace has 1,441 rooms…but it was not so in the beginning. To answer the question, why are there so many rooms, well every emperor would add a room or two or an extension to the palace that it grew bigger and bigger to its size today.
The palace was originally a mansion called Katterburg , itwas bought by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II along with the floodplain it was erected on. He intended the place to be the court’s recreational hunting ground, he got the area fenced and exotic animals were kept and fishponds were made. To this day, there is a zoo and an aquarium that visitors enjoy, the little kids especially. The palace served as the Summer residence of the Habsburg monarchs and the member of its House. The Habsburg Monarchy (or the Habsburg Empire) covered the territories ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg (1278–1780), and then by the successor House of Habsburg-Lorraine (from 1780), between 1526 and 1867/1918. The Imperial capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburgs ruled the Austrian Empire and from 1867 to 1918 Austria-Hungary.
The name Schönbrunn literally means “beautiful (schön) well (Brunnen),” it comes from the artesian well from which healthy water was consumed by the court.
Facing the palace going to the left, one would find the well after walking a path of trees, it was unfortunately under maintenance the last time we went and I never got the chance to photograph it the other times we’ve visited.
Walking further, one would find the Roman Ruin. They are follies that look naturally integrated into the surrounding area – a picturesque horticultural feature added as an attraction. It was erected in 1778, in tune with the era’s rise of the Romantic movement.
Further to the left one will find the Obelisk Fountain, it is erected at the foot of the Hill leading to another structure, the Gloriette. Like the other features at the palace’s ground, this fountain was also designed by Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg and according to the inscription on the socle of the obelisk was erected in 1777.
The fountain has a pool contained against the slope behind it by a retaining wall reamed by a balustrade and decorated with vases. Projecting forward into the basin from the centre of the back wall is a grotto with river gods, crowned by an obelisk. Water flows out of the mouth of a central mask and also the vases held by the river gods into basins and finally into the main pool.
Facing the main palace, going to right side and further behind the Schlosstheater (palace theater), one will find the Wagenburg. It is a museum showcasing the carriages and vehicles used by the imperial household of the Austrian Empire.
I posted below photo on my City Daily Photoblog and a blogging friend commented that the building looks too small to be able to hold a number of carriages, there’s only the white van to compare and scale the building but it is a giant hall that’s home to what’s left of the Habsburg’s transport fleet; carriages, sedans, sleighs and even a car. Most notable on display are:
Hopefully we’d be able to enter the museum next time as it was closed when we last visited. For now I am borrowing this photo. Note the man on the right to scale. Notice too the horses, which are Lippizan, are of a taller breed. These horses were developed with the support of the Habsburgs.
Going a bit to the side of the palace, one would be welcomed by garden of roses in different colors, a pathway resembling a tunnel under vines growing on an iron structure. This is majestic when the flowers are in full bloom as lavender flowers hang down. There are also mini-ponds full of lilies in different colors but this is just to prepare visitors to what would be a grander view.
Behind the back of the Schönbrunn Palace is a vast garden designed and taken care of by Vienna’s Unsere Garten, the department responsible for landscaping and beautifying the city. Noticeable would be the white and red flowers by the side, a representation of the Austrian flag. Note that the flowerbeds are asymmetrical. This entire area is called the Great Parterre, there are 32 sculptures by the side representing deities and virtues (I’ve yet to look for my photos of those).
From this part of the garden, one can view the Neptune fountain, a massive structure representing Neptune and his minions. Above the hill, the Gloriette is also visible. I have climbed this hill a number of times and I won’t tire for the view from up their is so worth looking at and taking photos of.
The Neptune fountain is consisted of Neptune, the god of the sea on a shell-shaped chariot, Thetis; the sea goddess kneels by his side to entreat the former to protect her son, Achilles. There’s also a nymph on the other side and tritons (merman) holding their special attributes, conch shells are seen restraining the sea horses.
The back of the structure is actually a curious piece. One can go about to examine the structure itself while others just take photos of the palace’s back view.
Going up the hill from the Neptune fountain is a struggle as the pathway zigzags…it’s the best choice for someone trying to lose weight! ^_^ There are also pathways on the side leading up, if you’re not up for the challenge, the Liliputbahn will take you up the hill to the Gloriette.
The Gloriette, French for little glory, is a pavillion erected in 1775. It is the last building constructed in the garden according to the plans of architect Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg as a “temple of renown” to serve as both a focal point and a lookout point for the garden, it was used as a dining hall and festival hall as well as a breakfast room for emperor Franz Joseph I. That hall now houses a cafe.
There’s a platform on top of the Gloriette that one can access with a fee….the staircase leading to it is a bit steep but it’s worth going up to view Vienna from atop.
This pond is a favorite hangout for ducks and albatross and all kinds of birds, why, the kids, adults as well, feed them bread much to their delight. The cool breeze on the platform is also a welcome addition especially in the summer when it gets too hot to handle.
I hope to show more of the Schönbrunn in the next posts. Here are some more photos I took through the years and will feature them one by one soon.
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Austria is often a forgotten country on the European travellers map because, with so many nations nestled together, there are often more iconic places to visit. However, Austria has a huge amount on offer including famous film locations, stunning scenery, and a rich history including architecture and classical music to explore. With such a diverse range of attractions using car rental is often the ideal way to take in as much as possible on any given trip. And if you’re considering holidaying in this country, there are ten top reasons to tempt you.
1. Vienna’s Palaces
The capital of Austria, Vienna makes up for the country’s small size with three stunning palaces. Schönbrunn, Belvedere and Hofburg are huge marble buildings that will amaze and enthrall all visitors who take in their grand presence.
2. Vienna’s Architecture
In addition to the stunning palaces, Vienna has some incredible architecture to discover. A variety of Baroque museums, Gothic cathedrals, Art Nouveau commercial buildings and Romanesque churches offer more than enough to sightsee.
3. Austrian Balls
Whilst balls may have lost tradition over the world, Austria still holds the ball in high regard. If you’ve ever wanted to dance the waltz and indulge in glamour, a Viennese ball is perfect.
4. Mozart’s Birthplace
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the most prestigious classical musicians to have ever lived. Born in Salzburg, you can discover his birthplace at No. 9 Getreidgasse, whilst a number of other houses connected to the musician and 16 streets named after him can also be toured.
5. The Sound of Music
Almost all of the popular film The Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg, Austria. There are specific film tours, which take you to iconic places in the film, and you can explore Maria’s convent home of Nonnburg Abbey and Rolf and Liesl’s gazebo at Hellbrunn Palace.
6. Austrian Salt Mine
Outside of Salzburg is the Salt Mine, which is open to the public to explore. You can head into the Bavarian mountains in traditional miners clothes, slide down a miners shoot and sail across a salt lake.
7. Salzburg Old Town
Salzburg’s Old Town, alternatively known as Alstadt, is one of the nation’s six UNESCO World Heritage sites. Getreidgasse is the central thoroughfare with its iconic shop signs of wrought iron, and its cobble streets leading to the stunning Salzburg Cathedral.
8. Austrian Cuisine
If you’ve ever listened to The Sound of Music you’ll be aware of ‘crisp apple strudel’, which is one of Austria’s famed delicacies. With German, Hungarian and Italian influences, Sachertorte, Tafelspitz and Kaiserschmarrn are delights to be sampled and enjoyed.
9. Hohensalzburg Fortress
This fortress is one of Europe’s biggest castles and took around six centuries to complete. If you want the best views of Salzburg, climb to the top of the fortress after exploring the maze of cobbled streets surrounding it.
Austria has some of the best skiing in the world, and whether you’re a novice or a seasoned professional, there are more than enough Austrian Alp slopes to explore. Skiing resorts are very close to Salzburg, so you can have a winter sports retreat and a city break in one holiday.