Monday, January 16, 2012

Shonbrunn or schoenbrunn palace?

Schonbrunn Palace sits just outside Vienna, Austria. It is easy to see why it is a 'must see' and on the UNESCO World Heritage list (it was added in 1996). Schonbrunn was my final destination on my short visit to Vienna.

After a short ride on the Ubahn (subway) I had finally arrived. They say summer is the best time to go because of the gardens and I am inclined to agree. After waiting on line for my ticket I decided to wander through the seemingly endless acres of gardens. Delicate, brightly colored blooms lay out in swirls as if wind blown and stood out in beautiful contrast to the carpet of manicured green around them. Shoenbrunn when translated into English means 'beautiful fountain'. There are a few on these impressive grounds. There is a zoo on the property, which is the oldest in the world. And lets not forget the maze. If nothing else, just wandering the outside of this amazing palace would have made my trip well worth it.

Once I was satisfied that I had seen most of the outside treasures of Schonbrunn, I made my way inside. This grand palace was originally a mansion called Katterburg. It was purchased by nobility in 1569, by Emperor Maximilian II. He had the property fenced in and the court used it as a recreational hunting ground. Eventually it fell in the hands of Joseph I. Upon his death, his widow, Wilhelmina Amalia moved into Schonbrunn. Emperor Charles VI then purchased the property and his young Empress Maria-Theresa order it to be repaired and enlarged. This remodel was done in the Rococo style.

One step inside and it was easy to see why this was the Empress' favorite residence. Each room had its own personality if you will. However, it all flows cohesively and each adds to the whole. My jaw dropped at the ornate design of each corner of that endless structure. Schonbrunn boasts some 1,441 rooms! Each one I saw was more impressive than the last. Some rooms were bright ad colorful, others elegant and stately. The furniture was as interesting to see as the art that hung on the walls. How about that imperial bed? Let's not forget to include the statues, painted ceilings and chandeliers that adds to the opulence of this enchanting place.

My tour eventually took me to the royal baker. Here the chef shows us how to prepare an apple strudel. How delicious! As if my other senses weren't already occupied trying to take in what was around me, suddenly smell and taste too were included.

I couldn't have been happier with my decision to visit this historic landmark. Schonbrunn palace is every bit the spectacle you read about. My day was a satisfying one, full of enchantment, culture, whimsy, color and opulence. Throw in a menagerie, some fountains and gardens, add a sweet treat at the end and you find yourself lost in the world that is Schonbrunn palace.