You can’t say you’ve seen Vienna if you haven’t visited this rococo Schönbrunn Palace. Once the former seat of the Habsburgs (say you know the story of Empress Sisi!), it’s now a museum. However, it wasn’t the museum that lured Nico and me to Schönbrunn, but the magnificent gardens that surround the palace and provide respite on a hot summer evening.
The history of Schönbrunn actually began with the gardens. In 1569 Emperor Maximilian II bought this land between the districts of Meidling and Hietzing. The park was initially intended as a recreational hunting area – the emperor let pheasants, ducks, deer and wild boar into it. The first palace was built more than a century later. Schönbrunn Palace, however, did not get its glamour until the 18th century, when Empress Maria Theresa received the property as a wedding gift. The palace owes its neoclassical style to the efforts and taste of Emperor Franz I.
Austria’s longest-reigning Emperor Franz Joseph was born and died at Schönbrunn. After the fall of the Habsburg dynasty, the palace became the property of the Austrian Republic. Today Schönbrunn houses a famous museum and the surrounding park is open to the citizens of Vienna and visitors.