Schonbrunn Palace

Vienna, Austria | C.1740

Photo Credit: Margit Berner

Schonbrunn Palace is a former hunting lodge and imperial summer residence located in Vienna, Austria. The grand 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country.

In 1569, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II purchased a large floodplain of the Wien river beneath a hill, situated between Meidling and Hietzing. A mansion dubbed Katterburg already stood on the land that was erected by a former owner in 1548.

During the next century, the area was used as a hunting and recreation ground. Princess of Mantua, Eleonora Gonzaga, spent much time there and was bequeathed the area as her widow’s residence after the death of her husband, Ferdinand II. From 1638 to 1643, she added a palace to the Katterburg mansion, while in 1642 came the first mention of the name “”Schonbrunn”” on an invoice.

The Schonbrunn Palace in its present form was built and remodeled throughout the 1740-50s during the reign of empress Maria Theresa who received the estate as a wedding gift. Franz I commissioned the redecoration of the palace exterior in the neoclassical style as it appears today.

Franz Joseph, the longest-reigning emperor of Austria, was born at Schonbrunn and spent a great deal of his life there. Following the downfall of the Habsburg monarchy in 1918, the palace became the property of the newly founded Austrian Republic and was preserved as a museum.

After World War II, the palace was requisitioned to provide offices for both the British Delegation to the Allied Commission for Austria, and for the headquarters for the small British Military Garrison present in Vienna.

Since the mid-1950s it has been a major tourist attraction. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.

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