Schönbrunn Palace is major tourist destination and also one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria. Placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1996 due to its importance as a work of Baroque art, it is a wonderful monument featuring fountains, statues and even a zoo. With a history dating back to medieval times, the land was originally owned by Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II and held a mansion named Katterburg. The area was fenced and filled with game to serve as the court’s recreational hunting ground. Over the following centuries the property was transformed into a manorial estate. In 1569 the Habsburg’s came into possession of the estate from Maximilian II and it included a house, watermill, pleasure garden, orchard and stables. During the 1600’s a palace was added to the grounds by Eleonore Gonzaga, wife of Ferdinand II. Schönbrunn Palace is also the birthplace of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and the majority of his 68 year reign was spent living there. During this time, he recognized Schönbrunn Palace as a work of art and had it remodeled in accordance with its history.
The palace was passed on to the Republic of Austria at the end of the monarchy in 1918 and was eventually opened to the public. The imposing palace complex receives around 8 million visitors annually with 2 million visiting the palace and another 6 million visiting all the other attractions the complex offers. The Schönbrunn Palace tour that takes you on a journey through the ages giving you a glimpse of a wide variety of apartments once occupied by the likes of Emperor Franz Joseph, Maria Theresa and Franz Karl. The palace is filled with wonderful works of art including frescoes by Johann Bergl. The park at Schönbrunn Palace opened to the public in the late 1700s has been one of the most popular attractions the site offers. The beautiful Baroque garden layout as well as the additions made during the time of Maria Theresa have survive mostly intact to this day and give the gardens its characteristic appearance. The French garden, planned by Jean Trehet in 1695 is a large part of the area, there is also a sculpted garden space called the Great Parterre (Great Ground Floor). The complex also includes the Tiergarten, founded in 1752, which is the world’s oldest existing zoo and even an orangerie that was erected around 1755.
Schönbrunn Palace is very popular and you often have to wait on long lines to enter. Tickets can be purchased in advance for tours through the official website. In addition, you can enjoy a variety of classical concerts featuring the music of Mozart and his contemporaries at the palace. The palace was recently chosen as the theme for a commemorative Austrian 10 euro coin that was mined in 2003 and shows the central part of the palace front behind one of its fountains. The palace also offers a wide variety of dining choices with 8 cafes and restaurants scattered throughout the complex. Come visit an example of the glorious historical culture Austria has left for the world. It is truly a wonderful experience filled with are, architecture, and beautiful memories.