As of today I have only visited a few sights; joined the local culture by drinking at the Danube Island festival (a free concert for three nights on the Danube Island featuring local and international artists) and tried some classic food that Vienna has to offer (McDonalds and Wiener Würstchen). It was time to see the real Vienna, the Vienna you see in Holiday Brochures from travel agents.
All I knew about Schönbrunn "the beautiful source" was that Marie Antoinette (Marie Antonia) spent her childhood in this palace until 1770 when she married the King of France. The palace is fascinating, showing how Imperial Austria once was and just how indulgent the royal families were in every aspect of life (I come from New Zealand and we have nothing that could even closely compare to Europe’s dynasty well maybe our local museum/domain in Auckland ... NOT!).
Inside the palace it is full with tourists and their audio tapes looking in every which way to get a glimpse of how life used to be. Pushing past the large tour groups I got to view some amazing portraits, ceiling paints and wall decorations ... not to mention the amazing furniture that was not very ergonomically designed (The beds looked as hard as sleeping on concrete, so no wonder the royals all looked grumpy in their portraits). Note: no photos are allowed in the palace and B's camera must have gone off without him knowing!
Outside is the most impressive part of Schönbrunn. The gardens are free and extend for 1.2 km from east to west and approximately one kilometre from north to south. Every way you look there is another impressive site. On one side of the gardens you have the Botanical sites, Butterfly house, maze and the zoo. To the other side you have a forest, more beautiful gardens with fountains and the carriage museum.
At the top of the hill you can stop for a Kaffe (coffee), Wein (wine) or Nachspeise (desert) at the beautiful Gloriette. Here you will look back at the palace and realise just how gross (big) it really is and see the sights of Vienna’s city behind it.
I enjoyed my erdbeer desert where I could not control the portion sizes I shoved in my mouth (Not very princess like of me!) and drank my schokolade kaffee. "Let them eat cake" I say, gotta roll with the traditions... This is the place for me to start learning German, I will be back! (B will be broke before he knows it ... coffee prices are about $9 NZD).
Schönbrunns history dates back to the Middle Ages and in the early years the palace it was used as a hunting site. Between 1740-80 the palace went through major restorations under Maria Theresia and officially turned into a summer residence for the royalty of Austria.
On the grounds there is also one of the first zoos and botanical sites in the world’s history. Menagerie (Zoo) was originally founded by Emperor Franz Stephan and was based on designs by his architect Nicolas Jadot (1751), a construction was made consisting of thirteen animal enclosures. As the years went by the number of exotic animal increased through new acquisitions and gifts although the loss of animals was high because of the lack of knowledge for correct conditions and diets.
An animal that changed fashion, accessories and hairstyles was the giraffe, who thought an animal could affect such things? Schönbrunn was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List at the end of 1996. Overall the history of Schönbrunn is fascinating from the people, animals to the plants and there is too much to write in one post.