To understand the preferences, aspirations and even hobbies of the Habsburg Monarchs, you need to visit the most important cultural monument in Austria – The Schönbrunn Palace. Since the 1960s, this palace has been the major driver of tourism in Vienna, Austria’s capital. The palace gardens have been exceptionally tilled and landscape to showcase the best of Austrian gardening genius.
Since the 16th century, the palace was a hunting lodge for the royal family. It was a place the king’s court could go and enjoy the summer away from the hectic official duty. The palace was burnt down in the Turkish attack of 1683 but was quickly rebuilt in 1695. The palace remained a summer lodge until the end of Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The palace was designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach and Nicolaus Pacassi. Its outstanding artwork seems to have been done by the best artists of the time. It features 18th century interior décor, and was the first place in the world to have a zoo way back in 1752. Fischer did the structural work while Picassi did most of the decorative work. Impressively, you can access the piano nobile via the Great Gallery that features ceiling frescoes that symbolizes the Habsburg Empire. The stucco ornamentation was put in the Great Gallery to show off the kingdom’s prosperity.
Among the most visited rooms in the palace includes the Small Gallery, the Chinese Round Room, the Chinese Oval Room, the Carrousel Room, the Ceremonial Room, the Vieux-Laque Room, the Napoleon Room, Porcelain Room etc. All these rooms are tastefully decorated and show the gradual evolution of the Habsburg Empire into one of the most successful Empires in the 18th and 19th century.
You cannot talk about the palace without a mention of its gardens. Its expanse is a testimony of the kind of functions it used to serve. In the garden, you will find the palace chapel where the emperor’s court used to worship. Also on the garden is the Palace Theater. However, the most noteworthy feature on the garden is the Schönbrunn zoological garden that was founded by Franz Stephan who was husband to Empress Maria Theresa.
If you are ever in Vienna, your tour will never be complete without a venture into this great palace.