The Schönbrunn Palace was one of the many beautiful buildings that we visited in Vienna. The palace is Vienna's most popular tourist attraction but we were hoping that the snow would keep some people from sightseeing. We were wrong. There was crowds of people in and around the palace. We did the 'Grand Tour' of the palace with audio guides which was really great to be able to learn a bit of history about each room. Photos were strictly prohibited inside the palace so we had to be sneaky with our little point and shoot camera to get the few photos that we did get (Julia was the photographer and I was the lookout). Each room was highly detailed-- we were both in awe of all the work that goes into the decor, whether it be the paintings on the wall, the furniture, the woodwork on the walls, or the beautiful chandeliers. Even the floors were not overlooked, which were composed of tiny pieces of wood. I liked the interior of this palace more than I did the interior of the Versailles Palace in France (although the exterior is not as impressive). And I'm sure the gardens of the Schonbrunn Palace are remarkable as well but we didn't get to see much since it was all covered in snow. We walked around the outside of the palace and were amazed by how massive the garden area is, with spacious walkways and rows and rows of frosted trees. There's even a zoo in the gardens, Tiergarten Schönbrunn, the oldest zoo in the world; founded in 1752. In front of the Palace was yet another Christmas Market with a huge Christmas tree in the middle. We spent some time browsing all the booths with our tasty hot mugs of weihnactspunsch.
We learned quite a bit about Emperor Franz Joseph (ruled 1848-1916) who was born in the palace in 1930. He had quite a handsome mustache, you can see a picture of his bust below. When he was emperor, he would see hundreds of people everyday in his office. It was usually people thanking him for what he did or people with requests of some sort, he would do this for 3 hours every morning and the impressive fact is that he remembered everyone's name. In his bedroom, he had a very small and simple bed, and in his study, a regular sized desk... it almost looked like they didn't belong with all the other highly detailed furniture in the rooms. He was a really simple man who loved hunting and working hard. When we saw his bed, Julia and I both remembered King Louis' bed in the Versailles Palace, which was the complete opposite of Franz Joseph's, it was very enormous, fluffy, and fancy (you can see a photo of it in the Versailles post). By the end of the tour, I grew quite fond of this Franz Joseph and the Habsburgs... how can you not like a simple man who likes hunting and has facial hair like his?!
Some quick facts:
-The Schönbrunn and the previous buildings that stood on it's site go back to the middle ages.
-The whole estate was referred to as the Katterburg from the beginning of the 14th century.
-Mozart first performed for the Queen in the palace at the age of 6 (and we got to check out the room!).
-In 1569 the estate came into Habsburg possesion. After the fall of the monarchy in 1918, the Austrian Republic became the new owner of the palace.
-Marie Antoinette grew up here before getting married off to King Louis XVI.
-In 1961, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev held a summit in the Great Gallery inside the palace. -In 1996 the palace along with it's gardens was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site.