Schönbrunn Palace was the Habsburg rulers‘ primary summer residence, and it is located in Hietzing, Vienna’s 13th district. It’s one of the country’s most significant architectural, cultural and historical landmarks, built in Rococo style. It has become a major tourist attraction in both Vienna and Austria, since the 1950s.

The complex consists of a palace with many areas opened for the public, museums, and gardens. The gardens are home to Imperial Carriage Museum, Crown Prince Garden, Orangery Garden, Maze & Labyrinth, Zoo, Palm House, and Desert Experience House. Usually, it takes at least an entire day to see all points of interest in the area.

Schönbrunn Palace gardens
Schönbrunn Palace gardens

Quick facts

Name Schönbrunn Palace
Type Architectural/Palace complex/Museums
Built/opened 1740
Location Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Wien, 13th district, Hietzing
How to get there U4, Wien Hütteldorf from Schwedenplatz or U3, Wien Ottakring from Stefansplatz (plus tram No. 10), or bus 10A
Ticket Price From $10, depending on the package
Opening hours 7 days a week, 10:00-17:00
Official website https://www.schoenbrunn.at/en/

The palace has more than 1,400 rooms, from which 45 can be visited, so there are several different tour types offered for visitors: grand tour, imperial tour, or ground floor tour.

Schönbrunn (“beautiful spring”) was a popular hunting and recreational area for royals, long before anything was built there. The original idea was to build a hunting lodge, but gradually project grew to become a massive palace, which took its final shape and style in the 18th century.

The history of Schönbrunn Palace

In 1695, Leopold I entrusted the final planning to Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach who had already designed the first project during 1692-1693. The construction of the castle was planned on the hill of today’s Gloriette. Since this planning was too costly, Fischer delivered a second, much simpler draft, for a building below the hill and near the Wien River.

This was accepted by Leopold, and the construction began during 1695-1696. The core of the middle section was completed around 1700. Joseph (I) preferred Schönbrunn to all of his palaces but was unable to live to its completion, as he died in 1711. The side wings were complete in 1713. Charles VI hardly visited Schönbrunn because he preferred to reside in the New Favoriten.

Schönbrunn Palace in autumn
Schönbrunn Palace in autumn

After Maria Theresa’s accession to the throne, a new era began for Schönbrunn. The renovation she ordered was carried out by Nikolaus Pacassi from 1744-1749 (removal of the gable, retraction of the mezzanine floor in the central projection, installation of the balconies and side stairs, and the two galleries).

The palace gardens were laid out by Jean Trehet during 1705/1706, and around 1750 Jean Nicolas Jadot de Ville-Issey designed the Chamber and Crown Prince Gardens. Around 1765 it was redesigned by Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg and Adrian van Steckhovenmade.

In 1752 Jadot de Ville-Issey laid out the menagerie in a circular shape. Hohenberg completed the Gloriette in 1775 and the Obelisk in 1777, the pavilion for the “Beautiful Fountain” was built in 1779, and the Neptune Fountain (with sculptures by Franz Anton von Zauner) was completed in 1780.

Maria Theresa’s son Joseph (emperor from 1765) celebrated his marriage to Isabella of Parma in Schönbrunn.

Franz I and his brother Archduke Johann ordered various improvements, mainly the layout of the gardens. Napoleon had his residence in Schönbrunn from December 12 to 25, 1805, and from May to October 16, 1809 (on October 14, 1809, the Peace of Schönbrunn was signed there). During the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Schönbrunn was the scene of massive celebrations.

The palm house, located in the area of the former Dutch botanical garden, was built in 1881/82 according to plans by Franz Xaver Segenschmid.

Franz Joseph I died in Schönbrunn on November 21, 1916. He lived whole his life in the palace. Karl I signed his resignation from the government in Schönbrunn in 1918. After the proclamation of the republic, the castle became the property of the Austrian state. The damage that the castle and Gloriette had suffered from bombs in World War II was repaired.
Skip-the-Line Schonbrunn Palace Guided Tour and Vienna Historical City Tour

After the end of WWII, Schönbrunn was in the hands of the British occupation troops during the Allied occupation, as the 13th district belonged to the British occupation zone of Vienna.

The Schönbrunn was used as British headquarters. However, the castle was returned to the Austrian government on May 31, 1948, and completely released on July 29, 1948. On September 4, 1948, the showrooms were reopened.

Today, the showrooms in the main building are also used for state receptions on a case-by-case basis. In the outbuildings, there are apartments for senior federal officials.

Both palace and gardens are part of UNESCO World Heritage since 1996 and the property is managed by Schloss Schönbrunn Kultur und Betriebsges company, owned by the Republic of Austria.

Palace was a host to many historical events, such as The Congress of Vienna, which was hosted in the Grand Gallery in the years 1814/15, and Emperor Charles I signed renouncement from state affairs in 1918 and subsequently dethroned in 1919. Mozart was visiting the palace as a six-year-old and already a child musical prodigy of the era.

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