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Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Vienna

 Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Vienna, Austria

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Telephone:+43 1 81113239

View of Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Vienna

With 1441 rooms, vast parks and formal gardens in the best and original baroque style, the Schonbrunn Imperial Palace does deserve at least a full days’ visit to take in all the wonder which has been beautifully and meticulously maintained.   

The Schonbrunn Imperial Palace ranks amongst the top 3 visited sites in Vienna, not only by foreign tourists but by Austrians themselves.

In 1995 the United Nations declared the Schonbrunn Imperial Palace together with its impressive formal Baroque park, as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.

The name of Schonbrunn, means 'Beautiful Spring'. There is a spring which fed an artesian well, used by the Royal court, but the first time the Schonbrunn is recorded as being a name for the buildings, was in 1642, when Schonbrunn was written onto an invoice.

There had existed a large mansion house on the lands called Katterburg since 1548 and Emperor Maximillian arranged for the land to be fenced off and use as the court's chanting grounds, filling the woods with deer and boar, pheasants and other game birds. Pools for fish were also established along with walled areas for some of the more exotic and new to Europe birds such a turkeys.

The territory where the palace stands had belonged to the Habsburg family since 1569, when Emperor Maximilian II (31 July 1527 – 12 October 1576) bought the river Wien floodplain around 6 km from today's Central Vienna. The Wien river is 34 kilometres long, and of that, 15 kilometres flows within the City of Vienna. The floodplain was situated between a hill between the towns of Hietzing (today the 13th municipal District of Vienna) and Meidling (today the 12th district of Vienna).

Hietzing 13th dictrict of Vienna Meidling 12th diistrict of Vienna Hietzing 13th district of Vienna Meidling 12th district of Vienna Emperor Maximilian II

Emperor Maximilian II

31 July 1527 – 12 October 1576

It would not be until nearly 100 years later, that the land, comprised mainly of woodland along the floodplain, would be developed by Emperor Ferdinand II, as his wife loved hunting, and so constructed a summer house.

Only when Emperor Ferdinand II died and bequeathed the lands to his widow, Eleonora Gonzaga, did she construct a palace to replace the Katterburg mansion, the basis of the actual Schonbrunn Palace complex would only start its evolution from 1696, following the Turkish occupation.

Emperor Ferdinand II

Emperor Ferdinand II

July 9 1578  - February 15 1637

By the early 1700's Emperor Charles VI was using the summer residence as a hunting lodge, and whilst a Palace for Eleonora Gionziga, for Charles VI it was a mere hunting lodge (persepectives, as today there are 1441 rooms).

Eleonora Gonzaga

Eleonora Gonzaga

23 September 1598  - 27 June 1655

Schoenbrunn_Palace_precursor 1672

Schonbrunn Palace precursor 1672

The Schonbrunn II Project

Architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach


Schonbrunn Palace

1st design in 1688

Maria Theresa was given the palace as a wedding gift by her father. She had the entire palace redesigned after her father Emperor Charles VI died in 1740, adding a theatre, a zoo and the vast gardens designed with fountains, lakes and monumental statues.

Schonbrunn garden plans

Garden plans

It was Maria Theresa who created much of what the Schonbrunn Palace is today.


Schonbrunn Palace by Artist Bernardo Bellotto 1758

Schonbrunn Palace. The front view is typified by two wings and the 2 fountains to create the grand entrance. The Gloriette memorial can be clearly seen on top of the hill is the rear gardens.

Schonbrunn Palace rear. Schonbrunn Palace front with wings.

Front entrance with a wing either end.

Rear of Palace with no wings.

Schonbronn Palace to Gloriette

Reverse view  from Palace to the Gloriette

View from beneath Gloriette Memorial.

Schonbrunn Imperial Palace with park and garden

Following the death of Maria Theresa in 1780, the palace fell into neglect. As most tof her children were married into European royalty and nobility, there was no real heir to take control of Schonbrunn Palace as a family home.

In 1804, Emperor Francis II founded the Austrian Empire and became Francis I (Franz I), the first Emperor of Austria

Napoleon occupied the Palace in 1805 and again in 1809 as his HQ. In 1810, Napoleon married Marie Louise, daughter of Emperor Francis II.

The Marriage was intended to seal the peace between the two rulers.

Emperor Francis II in coronation robes

Emperor Francis II in coronation robes

Marie Louise - Daughter of Emperor Francis II

Marie Louise - Daughter of Emperor Francis II

Wife of Napoleon I

Marriage Ceremony of Napoleon I  Emperor of France and Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria.

Marriage Ceremony of Napoleon I Emperor of France and Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria.

 Held at the Louvre chapel on April 2nd 1810.

It was only in 1853, more than a 100 years after the heyday of the Schonbrunn Imperial Palace under Maria Theresa, that the Palace once again began to flourish when Emperor Franz Joseph (who was born in the Palace) married Elizabeth of Bavaria (affectionately known as SISI) when he was 23 years of age.

(He would also die at the palace at the age of 86 on November 21st 1916).

Franz Karl - aged 37

17 December 1802 - 8 March 1878

Franz Karl

Francis II - aged 25

12 February 1768 - 2 March 1835

Francis II Franz Joseph I

Franz Joseph I aged 21

18 August 1830 - 21 November 1916

Leopold II

Leopold II aged 23

5 May 1747 - 1 March 1792

Franz Joseph I was born in the Schonbrunn Palace on 18th August 1830, the oldest son of Archduke Franz Karl of Austria (the younger son of Holy Roman Emperor Francis II), and his wife Princess Sophie of Bavaria.

He had 2 younger brothers of which Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, born in 1832, would become the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico.

Despite the often confusing mix of names, Franz Joseph I was just 4 steps away from Maria Theresa, with her son Leopold II (Peter Leopold) being her successor.

Although the marriage of ‘Sisi’ to Franz Joseph threw her in at the deep end of rigid Habsburg court life, for which she was totally unprepared, and it is said that the marriage held no love but was a matter of convenience and for producing an heir, she was loved by the people.

She would have a difficult time with her dominant mother-in-law, Princess Sophie, who through various means of pressure, would end up taking on the role of raising Elisabeth's daughters, one of whom died in infancy.

Elisabeth Empress of Austria

1855 portrait as Empress of Austrian

Coronation of Franz Joseph and Elisabeth King and Queen of Hungary

Coronation of Franz Joseph I and Elisabeth of Bavaria

Elisabeth_Queen_of_Hungary_Photograph_by Emil Rabending_1867

Elisabeth Queen of Hungary

Photograph by Emil Rabending 1867

Elisabeth Queen of Hungary

Elisabeth Queen of Hungary

Photograph by Emil Rabending 1867

Elisabeth in 1865 painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter

Elisabeth in 1865

By artist Franz Xavier Winterhalter

Following the resignation of the Chancellor Prince Metternich during the Austrian Revolutions of 1848, the young Archduke Franz Joseph, who was expected to succeed his uncle to the throne, was appointed Governor of Bohemia, a position he never accepted and instead would join Field Marshal Radetzky on campaign on 29 April at the Italian front.

The Imperial Family had fled Vienna during this period for Innsbruck, in the Austrian Tyrol, where the revolution was 'less intense'.

It was claimed that the colour in which the Palace was painted, was supposed to be gold in order to show the Royal standing of the Habsburg's. However, that was a rumour created from envy, as the yellow tone of the palace was not only deliberate, but it was a type of paint which was relatively cheap. It was said that the Empress kept a close watch on the budget and would not tolerate spending more than was required. Indeed, a good negotiator!

Schonbrunn stables

Former stables, now museums and cafe plus souvenirs etc

Schonbrunn Chapel


Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace

With 1441 rooms, let’s take a brief look inside!

Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Schonbrunn Imperial Palace Artist_Xavier_Winterhalter_Portrait_of_Elisabeth_showing_her_famed_long_hair_1864

Portrait of Elisabeth showing her famed long hair Painted by Artist Xavier Winterhalter in 1864

In December 1848, Emperor Ferdinand abdicated the throne as part of Ministerpräsident Felix zu Schwarzenberg's plan to end the Austrian Revolutions of 1848, which allowed Ferdinand's nephew Franz Joseph to ascend to the throne.

The event took place in the Moravian city of Olomouc. There remains sung a Hungarian poem of 1848, as Austria called upon the Russian Csar Nicholas to send military forces and crush the uprising in Hungary, which was crushed in the summer of 1849.

Elizabeth, affectionately known as Sissi, was extremely popular throughout Austria as well as in Hungary.

When Austria joined Hungary in 1867 to form the Austro-Hungarian Empire , Schonbrunn Palace became the central focus for Empress Elizabeth's creative talents in redeveloping the entire Palace and continue the extraordinary work begun by Maria Theresa.

Mayerling Hunting Lodge

Mayerling Hunting Lodge

The 1850's saw huge changes for Austria, on all fronts both home and foreign.

The Crimean War broke out, the total break down of relations with Russia and defeat in the Second Italian War of Independence, underlined the problems which continued well towards the end of the 1860's.

The Austro-Prussian War of 1866 resulted in the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, after which a sense of calm descended. However, major political problems would continue to mount all the way through to the 20th  century.

Ironically, Franz Joseph remained immensely respected and loved by the people.

Perhaps because of his ‘people popular’ wife Elisabeth, affectionately known as Sisi.

Perhaps because in harsh times there is a wish, if not need, to hold onto the ‘good times’ which Maria Theresa represented and to which Franz Joseph was the direct connection.?

Whilst the politicians wrangled, fought and squabbled, Franz Joseph held the Empire together with Patriarchal authority, many seeing his authority as being that of his ancestors when Austria was a grand ruler.

In 1889, tragedy struck by the death of her only son Rudolf and his mistress Mary Vetsera, in a murder–suicide scandal at his hunting lodge at Mayerling.

Elisabeth would never recover from the tragedy and withdrew from court duties totally. She travelled widely without her family and found peace in her beloved Hungary, a country and people with which she developed a very close relationship.

9 years after the death of her son, whilst travelling in Geneva in 1898, Elisabeth was stabbed to death by Italian murderer Luigi Lucheni, who had wanted to kill Prince Philippe, Duke of Orléans but missed his opportunity.

Still wanting to kill, he decided he would murder the next member of royalty that he saw, regardless of who they were.

Sadly, Elisabeth would be that Royal.

She the longest serving Empress-Consort of Austria, at 44 years.

Born 24th  December 1837 and died 10th  September 1898.

Empress Consort from 24th April 1854 until her death 10th September 1898.

Last photograph taken of Elisabeth the day before her death at Territet, Switzerland

Last photograph taken of Elisabeth the day before her death at Territet, Switzerland

stabbing of Elisabeth

An artist's rendition of the stabbing of Elisabeth in Geneva

10 September 1898.

The funeral procession in Vienna 17 September 1898

Schonbrunn has survived 2 world wars since the Habsburg's left, including an American bomb in the 2nd world war which crashed through 3 entire floors before coming to a rest without exploding.

The Palace has witnessed much of the best and worst of history, it is a time capsule for our past, a living past which people can visit and experience.

It is simple to criticise and condemn actions of the past which some may not like, however, actions take place in their own times, we cannot judge from the comforts of our times but perhaps recognise and admire women like Maria Theresa for their achievements and strengths.

Indeed, she should be a woman of example to those of today that may question their positions in life.

In 1992 the Schloss Schonbrunn Kultur, a private company solely owned by the Republic of Austria, was formed to operate, administer and maintain the Palace. The State provides no finances to the Palace, which relies on its tourist and event income for all operational funding.

Queen Elisabeth of Hungary

St Matthias Church in Budapest

Queen Elisabeth of Hungary in St Matthias Church in Budapest Hungary Gloriette at Schonbrun Palace

All images will be available on a single page PLUS we shall include a page especially for tourists to help you find the best deals and locations.

You MUST enjoy your visits to these wonderful buildings and gardens full of history, and that can only be achieved if you are happy and confident of having the best possible information.

This site is independent and aims to provide you with the best non biased, fact based information on the wondrous life, times and world of Maria Theresa. It is after all a site of history, used by students we have been informed, from around the world looking for direct facts on Maria Theresa.

When we have living history, where visitors can immerse themselves and get a real feel for what life must have been like, then its important that they do experience the ‘real’….not the ‘Hollywood’

We shall at some point be listing a visitors / things to see / must see page, with independent links from where you can organise your experience of the Habsburgs.

Please let us know what you would like to see on this site and we shall do our best to help.

We have enlarged text to above normal.DONE.

We shall be adding a forum.

We shall be adding an upload page for photos.

“You can spend a week at the Palace without seeing the same room twice and constantly see something new”

Palm House Schonbrunn Palace

Palm House

Sun Dial House Schonbrunn Palace

Sun Dial House

Empress Elisabeth Memorial

Empress Elisabeth Memorial

Schonbrunn Maria Theresa Chandelier Schonbrunn Maria Theresa Chandelier Schonbrunn Maria Theresa Chandelier Schonbrunn Maria Theresa Chandelier Schonbrunn Maria Theresa Chandelier Schonbrunn Maria Theresa Chandelier Schonbrunn Maria Theresa Chandelier Schonbrunn Maria Theresa Chandelier Maria Theresa Chandelier at Schonbrunn