Favorite thing: When my wife and I were at Schonbrunn in June 2008, there was a musical festival there and we saw different bands wearing traditional Austrian costumes heading to the palace. We managed to take some photos and they are located at the travelogue section of this VT page :)
When you are at the hill behind the Schonbrunn palace and garden, where the Gloriette and Neptune Fountain are located, you will have great views of the palace, garden and Vienna city as well.
This hill has lots of benches and very popular for tourist to sit here to relax, especially during the warm summer months. The hill itself is not very steep and you should be able to reach the top (take your time and enjoy this wonderful place).
Schoenbrunn palace was ordered in 1695 by Emperor Leopold I with the purpose of building a summer residence. The selected place to build the palace was where formerly stood the hunting pavilion destroyed by the Turkish troops. But Emperor Leopold I didn't finish this palace, later completed by Maria Theresa's architect Nikolaus Pacassi.
The palace, the garden, the statues and the fountains are perfectly symmetric. The name Schoenbrunn comes from the water nascent found here.
To visit the palace inside you must pay an entrance fee of €9.60 if you have the Vienna Card, otherwise it will be more expensive (prices and conditions on November 2003). This fee will entitle you to visit about 40 rooms of this gigantic Baroque palace with an audio guide.
April to June: 8.30am to 5pm
July and August: 8.30am to 6pm
September and October: 8.30am to 5pm
November to March: 8.30am to 4.30pm
I read on the guide that Schoenbrunn had a Japanese garden, between the greenhouse and the zoo. Being very fond of Japanese gardens, I immediately thought about visiting it. But I must confess that this particular one let me down and I felt disappointed: as it was autumn everything was covered with a greenish net and it wasn’t only that, the garden seemed “poor” and very small and tiny. The problem was that I thought of the Japanese garden that I visited in San Francisco, and that is really worth visiting.
But if you visit the greenhouse or the zoo, take a look at this one, as it is very near.
The greenhouse is a beautiful piece of architecture made of iron and glass. It has 3 pavilions (connected between them), which allow three different climatic zones: cold, temperate and tropical. These differentiated climatic zones permit that specimens from all over the world grow inside.
This greenhouse used the most modern technology of that era and it was the last one (of this type) to be constructed in continental Europe.
Favorite thing: On your way down from Gloriette you will come into the Labyrinth. I didn't visit this separate garden and actually there were few people around, but as I mentioned earlier it was off-peak season and a cold day. To go into the Labyrinth you must pay an entrance fee. I just saw the Labyrinth from the outside: it is, as name says, a labyrinth made with bushes, so you will be walking through sculpted bushes trying to find your way. There was also a metallic bridge over the bushes so that the visitors could have a perspective of the area and its designs.
Gloriette is a beautiful belvedere built on top of a hill overlooking the Palace and the city of Vienna. It was built in 1775 and it is Early Classicist. Nowadays it houses a nice café called Café Gloriette, on that central glassed part.
I ate a nice Sachertorte (not the best in Vienna, but it was very good) and my husband ate Apfelstrudel, also very good. And we drank espresso. After going up the hill on that chilly day a hot espresso and some tasty cake felt like heaven!! The prices are about the same as in any other café in Vienna. They also have light meals.
Going up the Gloriette is worth the effort. From there you will enjoy a magnificent view over the palace, the gardens and over Vienna with some churches' bell towers standing higher on the city skyline. As you walk up that little hill you will progressively enjoy the view it provides.
Even in November the grass along the path was greener than the gardens! On your way up you will see a pond before the Gloriette itself. By the pond there are benches for the lazier to rest or just simply to sit for a while enjoying the view. Although the day was cold, going up that hill kept us warm enough to sit there for a while and enjoy the quietness of the place (it was late November and almost everybody else was inside the palace) and the outstanding views over the city.
This huge white marble fountain stands between Gloriette and the Palace, and it is situated in that part of the garden that I previously described as the backbone, the central part that divides the symmetrical sides of the garden.
When I visited this fountain it had no water running, which is usual during Autumn/Winter seasons, being that most of the fountains are covered in wood. Nevertheless, this one wasn’t covered in wood so I was able to admire Neptune and some other figures – half-man and half-fish, as well as nymphs and other Gods and Goddesses.
These so called Roman Ruins aren't true ruins from Roman times. In those days when the Emperor's family used Schoenbrunn it was fancy and trendy to have Roman Ruins. So some Roman Ruins were built on the premises …
When walking through the gardens you will eventually come across these ruins. It is not possible to go inside them, but you can get close enough to admire them.
The Star Pond was in former days placed in the centre of the garden and had no naiad statue. It was moved to its present location during alterations that took place in 1772. The Round Pond was built then, as a counterpart to the Star Pond (the symmetry of Baroque gardens “rule”).
The Star Pond also has a Naiad Fountain on the centre, although the statue is not exactly the same as the one in Round Pond. The naiad statues in both ponds were built at the same time as the Neptune Fountain, all of them with marble from South Tyrol. In-between both ponds are eight large marble vases. The Round and Star names come from the shape of the pond.
While walking through the garden, heading for the Roman Ruins, you will come across the Round Pond. On the centre of this pond there is a Fountain – Naiad Fountain. The naiads were nymphs of the springs and streams and followers of Neptune. The naiad on this fountain is playing with a bird.
There is another pond (Star Pond) nearby which statue was also conceived by Beyer (see next tip).
Favorite thing: While walking along the gardens I came across several animals - mainly birds and squirrels. I often found squirrels running up and down the trees and across the green lawns. As for birds, they are everywhere! The most common are blackbirds on the grass and another white bird (that I don't know the name) is commonly found around the ponds and up Gloriette; but some other species can also be found if you look carefully at the trees and quietest spots, some of them are quiet colourful. And beautiful ducks, not sure about the correct English name but the equivalent in Portuguese is Wild or Royal Ducks.
Favorite thing: The Privy Garden is the section of the garden that is adjacent to the Palace and it’s enclosed by other vegetation, providing a sheltered garden. While passing through you can almost feel transported to long gone eras and imagine the ambience of this garden - the walks that were made here, the gossips and the summer afternoons spent on the fresh shadows.