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Schönbrunn Palace ( Schloss Schönbrunn)

Formerly the imperial summer residence, Schloss Schönbrunn (Schönbrunn Palace) and its gardens to the south-west of Vienna, near the River Wien, form one of the most important creations of Viennese art in the 18th century.

Despite its apparent unity of style, the complex incorporates various structural changes resulting from its long history. After World War I the palace became a museum; it was restored after damage in World War II.

Schönbrunn Palace History

The property was originally the Katterburg, an imperial hunting lodge that was destroyed in the Turkish siege of 1683. In 1688–90, possibly in connection with the coronation in 1690 of the Archduke Joseph (later Emperor Joseph I) as King of Rome, Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach was commissioned by Emperor Leopold I to draw up plans for a monumental imperial hunting lodge to be erected on the hill where the Gloriette, a garden pavilion, now stands.

The projected hilltop site for this work of triumphal architecture, with elaborate terraces and cascades, reflects the Renaissance ideas absorbed by Fischer von Erlach during his stay in Italy.

The building actually constructed in 1696–1700 looked, however, quite unlike the first utopian project. Probably for financial reasons, the architect had to forgo the hilltop site and the splendid approach, although the building’s function was raised from that of hunting lodge to imperial residence. For this reason two separate courtyard blocks to accommodate the imperial household were added adjacent to each end of the main building. French and Italian models were again used in the second project (also published by Fischer von Erlach), notably Louis Le Vau’s project for the garden façade at Versailles.

On the death of Joseph I, Schloss Schönbrunn became the residence of his widow, Wilhelmina Amalia, and it was then bought by Emperor Charles VI. Remodelling and modernization began in 1743, when the young Empress Maria-Theresa ordered that the building, one of her favourite residences, should be repaired and enlarged to accommodate the imperial household in comfort. Nikolaus Pacassi was given this commission under the direction of Gundacker Ludwig Joseph, Graf von Althann. The internal arrangement of the palace was substantially changed.

Pacassi removed Fischer von Erlach’s two-storey hall occupying the full depth of the palace and replaced it with two parallel galleries running the length of the central block, the Grosse Galerie, whose windows open on to the main courtyard to the north, and the Kleine Galerie, which has associated circular and oval cabinets and whose windows lead into the garden. These new rooms are leading works of Austrian Rococo architecture. Pacassi replaced Fischer’s circular staircase with a terrace and two S-shaped stairs and opened up a new driveway beneath the terrace giving access to the garden.

A mezzanine floor was inserted in the side wings, the central five bays were given an attached portico, and the stable-buildings were connected to the main block by a colonnade to create a huge entrance court. In the north-west corner of the main courtyard the Schlosstheater was built.

Most of the important parts of the Rococo decoration of the palace from the reign of Maria-Theresa  have survived. A new, intimate style of living, which in some respects anticipated the early 19th-century Austrian Biedermeier, was realized here between 1760 and 1775; the Porzellanzimmer, Miniaturenkabinett and Schreibzimmer are good examples. The fashion for the Picturesque also found its way into the palace: the landscape rooms by Joseph Rosa, with romantic views of wild mountains, and by Johann Wenzel Bergl, with exotic, tropical motifs, show a desire to break out of the ceremonial framework of the Baroque.

Between 1817 and 1819 the palace façades were modernized by Johann Aman. Working in a Neo-classical spirit, he wanted to improve the balance and unity between the various parts of the building; he extended the pilasters up to the main, continuous entablature and removed the Rococo decoration on the garden side. The delicate blue tint of the exterior was changed to ochre, the ‘Schönbrunn yellow’. The last phase of renovation of the palace interior took place under Emperor Francis-Joseph; a restoration from 1869 removed much of the early 19th-century alterations, replacing them with neo-Baroque copies of the original 18th-century work.

Schönbrunn Palace Gardens

Fischer von Erlach’s ideas on the layout of the gardens were largely undeveloped in his first project, the ramps, grottoes and cascades of which followed outdated ideas on landscape design from the Mannerist villas of Italy. In the second project the garden was divided into monotonous box-edged borders, with a small belvedere planned for the hilltop. The layout executed in1705 by the landscape gardener Jean Trehet only partly followed Fischer von Erlach’s scheme, and unfortunately no plan of the garden from this period has survived. From later documents and illustrations it can be concluded that some of the existing compartments of the ornamental shrubbery near the palace date back to Trehet’s work.

The present arrangement of the garden between the palace and the hilltop was laid out in the 1750s and features long avenues of trees clipped to form tall hedges flanking the parterre. It is based on the ideas of the State Chancellor, Prince Wenzel Anton Kaunitz-Rietberg, who was especially interested in the French taste; the diagonal avenues and the diverse shapes of the areas of ornamental shrubbery are in the manner of Jacques-François Blondel. An important part of the work was carried out by artists from Lorraine who came to Vienna with Maria-Theresa’s husband Emperor Francis I

Adriaen van Steckhoven from the Netherlands laid out the so-called Holländischer Garten, where the Emperor could indulge his keen interest in botany.

Schönbrunn Palace Map

Schönbrunn Palace is located in Vienna, Austria. Adress: Schloß Schönbrunn, 1130 Wien, Austria. Places to visit: Schönbrunn Palace and the Gardens. To get directions use the map provided bellow:

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Schönbrunn Palace Photos

Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace Exterior
Schönbrunn Palace Exterior

Schoenbrunn Garden
Shloss Schoenbrunn Garden

Schloss Schoenbrunn Palm House
Schloss Schoenbrunn Palm House

Schloss Schoenbrunn Gloriette
Schloss Schoenbrunn Gloriette

Schloss Schoenbrunn Gardens and Gloriette
Schloss Schoenbrunn Gloriette and Garden

Schoenbrunn palace interior
Schoenbrunn Palace interior

Schönbrunn Palace Billiard room
Schloss Schönbrunn - billiard room

Schloss Schoenbrunn Gardens
Schloss Schoenbrunn Gardens

Neptunbrunnen Schoenbrunn

Schloss Schoenbrunn Orangerie
Schloss Schoenbrunn courtyard