Schonbrunn Palace is the former summer residence of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, situated just outside of the centre of Vienna. Easily accessible by train, we took a day trip out to the wonderfully excessive palace.
The Schloss Schonbrunn was built on what was once a hunting ground for the royals. It is the former home of monarchs such as Empress Maria Theresa and her daughter Marie Antoinette. It is well equipped to deal with tourists, just don’t get in the line even 5 minutes before your allotted time, they will send you to the back of the line again! The tours offered are of differing sizes though they barely make a dent in the 1400+ rooms of the palace. At Christmas time, the Palace also becomes home to one of the many Christmas Markets in Vienna, complete with a giant spruce.
Unfortunately, like most palaces, photos aren’t allowed inside, but if you can picture excessively decorated rooms and more velvet than one should own in their lifetime…you get the picture. The main tour spots include a few private rooms of the monarchs, along with some state rooms and the audio tour available helps give context to what you are looking at. There were also some fascinating portraits of the royal families, notably childhood portraits of Empress Maria Theresa’s children.
After the tour we had free time to explore the gardens behind the palace. This included the Neptune Fountain and the Gloriette. It’s an impressive view to stand up on the hill and look back at the sheer size of the palace.
We chose to stay until the evening to see the Palace and Christmas market all lit up.
It’s beautiful to watch the transition of colour as the sky gets darker and the lights are turned on. That being said, patience is a necessary virtue trying to capture the full scale of the palace as you have to walk away from it for a while to capture it. The old monarchs of Austria were fantastically excessive after all. Before we left we had one final lap of the palace and a quick stop at the gift shop which sits separately from the main palace.
Schloss Schonbrunn was a fantastic place to visit that artfully depicts the life of past Austro-Hungarian monarchs. Though the gardens weren’t exactly green in winter there is so much to see and what is missing in outdoor effect is made up for with a great Christmas market.