The palaces and castles of Austria are among the country's top tourist attractions. One the most renowned is Schonbrunn Palace, which is found in the capital city of Vienna. Together with its gardens, Schonbrunn Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it has been a featured attraction in Vienna since the 1860s. Construction on this stately Vienna castle began in 1696, and it wasn't completed until 1712. Once you see its grandeur in person, you'll understand why it took sixteen years to build. Boasting 1,441 rooms, it is truly remarkable. No visit to Vienna would be complete without a visit to Schonbrunn Palace, and you can either experience it on a guided city tour, or head here yourself by car, tram, metro, or bus. The Schonbrunn Vienna castle is not found in the city's central Old Town, but instead southwest of it. The journey out using public transportation will take around twenty minutes, and you'll be headed to Schonbrunn Station.
The Schonbrunn Palace Vienna complex was designed by the von Erlachs, who were masterful baroque designers. It was built for the Habsburgs, who were a powerful dynasty that ruled much of Europe for centuries. The Habsburgs had very refined tastes, which is evident when touring the Schonbrunn Vienna castle, as even the gardens are quite meticulous and dazzling. Upon resting your eyes on Schonbrunn Palace, you might conjure up notions of the Palace of Versailles. This would be rather ironic, as Emperor Leopold I had intended for this palace in Vienna to be more grandiose than France's famous example. This was not to be, however, as Austria's treasury was not too fond of that idea. Wars had drained the treasury's funds, but that's not to say that Schonbrunn Palace isn't spectacular itself.
In the 1700s, the Schonbrunn Palace Vienna estate was gifted to Maria Theresa, who was then reigning Archduchess of Austria, among other titles. It was a present from her father, and the Archduchess would waste little time in renovating it. She enlisted a court architect to give her Palace in Vienna a Rococo workover, which included the gardens. Unlike the more grim Hofburg Palace, which is another Hapsburg Vienna castle, Schonbrunn Palace is quite exuberant, exhibiting a much more lively and friendly appeal. It would become the summer residence of Austria's imperial family, and it remained as such until 1918, when the Habsburg dynasty saw an end to its long-running reign.
When visiting the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, you'll want to bring a camera, and hopefully that camera will have a panoramic lens, as the castle is rather wide. As mentioned, there are 1,441 rooms in the palace, and among the most interesting are the State Rooms, which are absolutely stunning. The elaborate and ornamental Rococo style is employed in many of the rooms, and especially in the Room of Millions, which is undeniably ornate. Tours of the rooms will help you learn all about them, and there are English-language ones that start every 30 minutes. All of the Schonbrunn Palace Vienna rooms have a story to tell, and you can definitely spend a lot of time exploring them and imagining how dramatically divine life was for the Habsburgs way back when.
After you explore some of the rooms inside Schonbrunn Palace, you'll want to pass by the Carriage Museum, or Wagenburg. You can view imperial coaches here, which leads the imagination to further wander. Some of the coaches at the Wagenburg Museum date back to the seventeenth century! Of course, the aforementioned Schonbrunn Palace Imperial Gardens are not to be missed either. The gardens are separated into different areas, such as the French Garden, where the hedges have been crafted into an intricate maze. Among the highlights of the Schonbrunn Vienna castle gardens is the Gloriette, which is a glorious summerhouse crafted of marble. The stone canopy that covers the Gloriette features a proud imperial eagle.
Schonbrunn Palace is open daily year round. The hours of operation vary a tad according to season, but generally you should base your visit between the hours of 8:30 a.m and 5 p.m. Different tours of the palace are available, including special children's tours, which allow kids to dress in imperial clothing among other things, which is a blast. The Schonbrunn Palace admission price includes a tour of the State Rooms, and also an audio guide, which is fun and informative.