Vienna Photos: Schönbrunn, Vienna's Imperial Palace

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Schloss Schönbrunn, the Imperial Palace of Vienna

Here we go, Vienna′s number one attraction: The Imperial Palace of Schloss Schönbrunn draws more visitors than any other sight in all of Austria. The former hunting chateaux was extended to its current glory under the rule of Empress Maria Theresia, who decided to make it the official summer residence of the Habsburg family in the mid-18th century. The architect in charge was Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. He created one hell of a palace, modelled after Versailles in Paris and today a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.

Schönbrunn means "beautiful fountain" and comes with all the follies and playful features of a typical Baroque/Rococo palace: One of the oldest zoos in the World, a maze, formal gardens, grottos, statues and other follies, stables, representative halls, drawing rooms, an orangery and fountains. The entrance fee to the palace is a bit of a rip-off in my humble opinion, but most of the gardens around Schönbrunn are open to the general public and free of charge.

Getting to Schönbrunn for a quick walk is very easy; just hop on subway line U4 (one of the old Stadtbahn lines with nice Art Nouveau or Jugendstil stops) and get of the unimaginatively called stop of "Schönbrunn". The picture above shows the front side of the palace, you will see it as soon as you pass the stables.