Schloss Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna - Part II
The next room, "Memorial Room" commemorates the son of Napoleon Bonaparte and his Habsburg wife. He was called "L′Aiglon" or "Little Eagle" and you might have seen his crib in the treasury of the Hofburg. In this room, there are more memorabilia, since he was "kept" here as a hostage after his dad′s final defeat in 1815.
The next room (I know, this sound a lot like "next room, next room, next room", and so on, but they all have very individual stories and looks, so seeing them is not as boring as reading about them) was Maria Theresia′s representative bedrooms, where she would welcome people in the morning rather than sleep (her actual bedroom was somewhere else). The next rooms (sorry) were again mostly used by Franz Joseph I and his parents, Archduke Franz Karl and the beastly Archduchess Sophie. This is where the rooms of this part end.
The next room…is in another part of Schönbrunn, namely the "Wagenburg" ("Carriage Castle"). As the name hints, the halls of the Wagenburg are stuffed with historic carriages and sleighs, mostly from the 19th century when the Emperor had to parade and represent a lot. It is fun to check out the toilets that were built in several of the carriages, although the really interesting ones are the elaborately decorated carriages of Empress Maria Theresia and her husband Franz Stephan of Lorraine.
Another interesting one is the carriage that was made for the transportation of the Herzogshut (the crown of the Archduke of Austria) that was kept in Klosterneuburg Abbey and taken to Vienna occasionally for ceremonial purposes. It is decorated with 11,000 golden nails. Note the heraldic sign of L′Aiglon (obviously an eagle) on his carriage.
Schlosspark Schönbrunn, Gloriette, Palmenhaus & Zoo
The park and formal gardens surrounding Schönbrunn are free to enter and worth a longer walk. Inspired by Versailles (rather than copied right away like much of the rest of Schönbrunn), the are typical French Baroque gardens on the ground level, getting more natural and English in their style in the elevated, more distant parts.
Reflecting the geometric arrangement of the French part as well as the symmetry of the palace, the Neptunbrunnen ("Neptune Fountain") marks the centre of the garden. It is aligned with the Gloriette Palace on a hill overlooking Schönbrunn. The Gloriette was built to commemorate a victory in the war against Prussia in 1757 - one of the last wars that Austria has one, unless you consider skiing competitions to be wars. Today, the Gloriette houses a popular café with a remarkable view over the imperial palace and its formal gardens.
As Baroque nobility enjoyed ambling in extensive gardens, there are several spots with "hidden treasures" in the Schlosspark. Fake Roman ruins that were built as a stage for open-air concerts (which are still held in this site), an amazing maze ("Irrgarten"), the "Schöner Brunnen" ("beautiful fountain") that gave its name to the palace, located in a proper Baroque grotto, swimming baths, an Obelisk, and the "Small Gloriette" memorial. Apart from these smaller goodies, there is the Palmenhaus (the Imperial Greenhouse) that charges extra and will cheer up those with a botanical mind.
Tiergarten Schönbrunn - Zoological Garden
Something I have always found much more interesting (being a zoologist) was the Zoological Garden Tiergarten Schönbrunn. It claims to be the oldest in the World (wrong, Salzburg′s zoo is ways older, but had to close for a few years in the 19th century - and the bloody Viennese made us start from zero again).
In any case, it′s a good one with attractive Baroque cages that used to be in a very poor shape up to the 1980ies. In the past 30 years, a massive refurbishment has taken place that transformed the zoo into the most modern institutions of its kind in Europe. The small enclosures from Baroque times are used only for old or sick animals these days. Beyond the classic zoo, there is also a park in "Tyrolian Style" (Tirolergarten), which imported a Tyrolian mountain farm into the backyard of the emperor. Zoo Schönbrunn will be dealt with in a separate article.
Continue with "Schloss Schönbrunn - Part I"
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