True or False?
Was this imperial palace used as a summer residence for the monarchy prior to 1918?
Did John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev meet there during the Cold War?
Was this site added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list?
Some History of Schönbrunn Palace:
The Habsburg family had possession of this vast country estate in the heart of present day Vienna, for nearly 400 years until 1918. This family strongly influenced the character and look of the Palace; beautifully transforming it from a hunting lodge to the magnificent historical site that lies before us today. There are approximately 1441 rooms in the Palace; still can’t imagine the vastness of this palace? Imagine spending one minute in each room; you would complete your tour after 24 hours and one minute! For more in depth history and information, visit:
Official Site: Schönbrunn Palace
Official Site: The World of the Habsburgs
The Schönbrunn Palace Tour:
Put on some comfy shoes, grab your camera and be prepared to explore one of the most elegant palaces ever built! You will have the pleasure of viewing state rooms, parks and beautiful gardens along the way. We headed to Schönbrunn Palace early in the day with our pre-paid, time-specific tickets in hand (highly recommended especially on a summer weekend – We chose the Classic Pass). With our first steps onto the vast courtyard, we were not disappointed at what we saw! The sheer size of the courtyard and main Palace building in the background had us recalibrate what ‘large’ really meant. This palace, like many others, is a photographer’s dream; numerous opportunities in every direction!
We didn’t waste any time once we arrived – we headed straight toward the main entrance, grabbed our audio headphones and started the tour!
The photos from this point on are official Schönbrunn Palace commissioned. Photography is strictly prohibited inside, which we abided by. It is important to be respectful of the preservation of historical sites; the longer they are around to view, the more our ancestors can revel in the same delight we have today to see the past.
We’ll share tidbits on some of the many rooms we had the privilege of visiting. Was this a place we’d recommend to families to visit? Would we want to return again? Continue reading and find out the answers below…safe travels!
Schonbrunn Palace can be divided into four sections:
- West Wing
- Central Range
- East Wing
- Ground Floor
As with most palaces and castles, every room has similar physical attributes: high ceilings, decorated delicately with the finest materials, superior workmanship, and massive paintings.
First off, we walked up the Blue Stairs and proceeded into the Billiard Room. The stairs were not actually blue; they used blue wash to clean the walls, thus Blue Stairs…makes sense!
The Billiard Room was a perfect example of the use of paintings to capture historical events. A very visual historical lesson was upon us. It was fascinating to watch children get totally absorbed by each scene in these paintings and listen to questions like “daddy tell me more about this”. And yes, there was a very large and elegant billiard table in the middle of the room; exclusively for the entertainment of VIP’s ~ sadly, we did not qualify!
I found the audience chamber and private rooms of Emperor Frank Joseph quite interesting. The Walnut room was decorated in precious walnut paneling and was used by the Emperor to hold important meetings. I found it unique that he reserved Mondays and Tuesdays to allow any of his subjects to address him with their comments or concerns. A fine example of everyone having a voice regardless of their status.
Now his private quarters were quite the contrast; from what I saw, he lived a lifestyle closer to his subjects. The decorations and furniture were very simple compared to the elegance of the state rooms. His daily routine started at 5 a.m. As he rose from his iron framed bed (nothing remotely what most envisioned a monarch would sleep on), he knelt down to pray, and then began his day. His desk was simple and functional for work. I wonder if present day monarchs live a lifestyle similar to Frank’s. Queen Elizabeth II’s private office was not part of our Buckingham Palace tour, so I can only speculate; though based on the grandeur of the palace, I do not believe her personal quarters are quite as simple as Emperor Joseph’s. He was a man of routine, and believed in the good of people; a great role model to parents as we raise our children with positive morals and values.
His wife, Elisabeth, lived a very different lifestyle and you’ll notice the difference immediately upon entering her private quarters. She was informally known as SiSi. Which also happens to be the name of the gift shop…how fitting.
Classical fans will appreciate the Mirrors Room. It was in this room that a young prodigy from Salzburg, by the name of Wolfgang Mozart performed in front of the Emperor. The Emperor was so impressed that he commissioned the altering of a famous painting to include the young Mozart. Encourage your children to find this painting during the tour.
Two words: Great Gallery. From the moment you step foot into this room, your visual senses go into overload: glittering gold stucco, glass mirrors and breathtaking frescoes (painted by Gregorio Guglielmi) saturate your mind. I can still picture that room today! All 43 metres in length and 10 metres in width. A fitting location for Kennedy and Khrushchev to meet. On our tour day, the room was quite full, yet reasonably quiet…everyone was absorbed by the elegance and beauty in front of them; including the young children. 🙂
A fitting name for my favourite room: The Millions Room. It took untold millions to create the room. Similar to the Great Gallery, the room was silent as you absorbed the over saturated visual beauty in front of you. Exotic tropical rosewood paneling was everywhere except the ceiling. Pay close attention to the collage of Indo-Persian miniatures framed on the walls. This would be a cool activity to do with the children (minus all the gold trim of course)
They have a Children’s Museum and hands-on zone to allow children to touch, feel and relive history. Sadly, this section was closed during our visit, but our tour guide spoke very highly of this area.
Part two of this review takes us outdoors, where photography is allowed. The children can walk the grounds, run and just be kids while parents sit down in the shade and enjoy the view.
Here’s a sneak peak of the gardens: