Schönbrunn Palace Vienna – the Habsburgs' favourite place to unwind

Schönbrunn means "Beautiful Spring" and that's basically why this palace is where it is. Back in the 1700s, the Habsburg court used to come here to hunt and take the waters from an artesian well. Pretty soon, they decided to stay for longer, and it became their full-time residence.

The building work was completed in 1780 during Maria Theresa's reign. Plenty has happened here since. After the Second World War it became the Headquarters for the British Military Garrison. And in 1961, it hosted the historical meeting between President Kennedy and Soviet leader, Nikita Khruschev.

The glorious Gloriette

If you get the feeling that something's looking down on you, that's just the Gloriette. The gardens point towards a 60-metre (197-foot) high hill, with the Gloriette monument located right on the very top. Built from stone left over from the demolition of another palace, the Gloriette was restored 3 times in the 20th century.

The Roman Empire

Stroll around the gardens and you’ll come across Roman ruins. Only they're not. Built in 1778 when the fashion for romantic ruin garden features was at its zenith, you can't help but see the symbolism - these buildings symbolise the decline of great empires and powers. Rather like the poor old Habsburgs when you come to think of it.

Other interesting facts about Schönbrunn Palace

  • The great maze took over 40 years to complete and has 4 sections to it
  • The Palace has 1,441 rooms
  • The Palace and its gardens are on UNESCO's World Heritage List as a fine example of a synthesis of the arts
  • Recognise the gardens? They featured in the James Bond movie, The Living Daylights