Schloss Schönbrunn

Schönbrunner Schloßstraße, 47 - 1130 Vienna - Vienna   see map - Contact
The palace of Schönbrunn (Schloss Schönbrunn), the famous imperial palace of Vienna, was the seat of the imperial house of Habsburg from 1730 to 1918. It is located in Hietzing, on the western outskirts of Vienna. The name of Schönbrunn was given to him by the emperor Mattia who, during a hunt in this area, discovered a source of crystal clear water which he called schön (er) Brunn, or "beautiful spring", hence the name. In addition to the magnificence of the halls and gardens, the palace complex is known for hosting the Tiergarten Schönbrunn, one of the oldest zoos in the world. It was used as a model by the Venetian architect Matteo Alberti for the design of the Bensberg hunting palace, built in 1711 for the Elector of the Palatinate, John William, known as Jan Wellem. . Since 1996 the palace and the garden have been declared World Heritage by UNESCO

Schloss Schönbrunn History

The history of Schönbrunn and the buildings that previously stood on this site dates back to the Middle Ages. From the beginning of the 14th century, the estate as a whole was called Katterburg and belonged to the manor of the Klosterneuburg abbey. The estate boasted a mill along with an arable land and vineyards. In the following centuries, numerous tenants were documented, including a reference in 1548 to a Hermann Bayer, mayor of Vienna, who expanded the property, transforming it into a substantial country estate.

In 1569 the property came into the possession of the Habsburgs through Massimiliano II and, according to the title, the deeds included a house, a water mill and a stable, a recreational garden and an orchard. Massimiliano was mainly interested in the expansion of the playground, which was mainly intended for the breeding of native game and poultry. However, pheasants also contained exotic chickens such as peacocks and turkeys.

Following the sudden death of Maximilian II in 1576, the Katterburg passed to Rudolph II, who did very little except sanction the funds necessary for its maintenance. Emperor Matthias used the estate for hunting and, according to legend, he should have come across the Schöner Brunnen (which means "beautiful spring"), which eventually gave its name to the estate while out hunting in 1612.

His successor, Emperor Ferdinand II, and his wife Eleonora von Gonzaga, both passionately fond of hunting, chose Schönbrunn as their hunting grounds. After Ferdinand's death in 1637, the estate became the most powerful residence of his art-loving widow, who needed the appropriate architectural setting for her lively social life.

In 1683 the plaisance castle and its deer park fell victim to the depredations of the Turkish troops during the siege of Vienna. From 1686 the estate was in the possession of Emperor Leopold I, who decided that he would transfer the property to his son and heir, Giuseppe, and that he would build a splendid new residence for him. Shortly afterwards, the architect of Rome, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, arrived at court on the recommendation of aristocratic patrons. In 1688 he presented the emperor with a preliminary series of projects for a new building, the so-called Schönbrunn I Project, with which he tried to show his architectural skills and get the emperor's interest.

It was Emperor Charles VI who revived interest in Schönbrunn Palace, intending to use it as the summer residence of the imperial family, a use to which he remained destined until the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy in 1918. He died before he could start the new work to expand the structure, which between 1743 and 1749 were carried out by his daughter Maria Teresa of Austria, who used the expertise of the architect Nicolò Pacassi to radically change the layout of the small hunting lodge. Some alternative projects now lost were also made by Johann Michael Rottmayr.

At the time of Maria Teresa, most of the interiors also date back to the very foundations of the Austrian rococo which today represent one of the most important examples.

Beside the residence, the court theater was opened in 1747, which hosted performances by Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with conductors of the same composers.

Around 1765 Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg, representative of the first neoclassicism, brought the last changes to the structure wanted by Maria Teresa after the death of her husband Francesco Stefano di Lorena. Starting from 1772 Hetzendorf von Hohenberg worked on the construction of the Gloriette at the bottom of the garden, an arched loggia built on the hill in the middle of the central view of the castle park.

In 1780 the works were completed, shortly before the death of Maria Teresa, from this moment the castle will no longer be inhabited until the early nineteenth century

Between 1805 and 1809, Napoleon Bonaparte took up residence at Schönbrunn Palace.

Starting from 1817 and for two more years, there are some architectural interventions that gave the castle its current appearance.

In 1830 the emperor Franz Joseph was born and he died here in 1916, while in 1918 the emperor Charles I signed the suspension of the works of the imperial government, leaving the will of the Austrian people; this started the process that put an end to the secular Austrian monarchy between 1918 and 1919.

At the end of the imperial ownership of the structure, part of it became a school for nearly 350 children, many of whom were war orphans or from families unable to financially support their education.

During the war, in 1945, the Gloriette and the palace were damaged by Allied bombs. The castle then became the local headquarters of the Russian and then British troops, which at the same time allowed a rapid restoration of the damage caused by the conflict. In 1948 part of the castle became already accessible and open to the public. The Schönbrunn Palace currently has 1,441 rooms of different sizes; many of these are intended for government use, but 190 are open to the public today in the form of a museum, with an annual estimate of 1.5 million tourists.

Schloss Schönbrunn

Time period
  • 1600s
  • Austria, Vienna
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Schloss Schönbrunn
  Schönbrunner Schloßstraße, 47 - 1130 Vienna
  +43 1 811 13-0

Schloss Schönbrunn
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