If you look out of Schönbrunn Palace, across the gardens and up to the crest of the hill, your eye comes to rest on the columns and arches of the Gloriette. And that’s no accident.
- Military-themed set of columns and arches
- Built in 1775 to (allegedly) improve the view from the palace
- Now has a café inside
- Part of the free-to-see Schönbrunn park
- Ticket needed to go up to the rooftop viewing platform
- See also:
The Gloriette’s history
(Schloß Schönbrunn, Wien – the Gloriette)
A court grumble (or so the story goes) was the lack of a fitting object for the Imperial gaze as it viewed the hill at the end of the gardens behind Schönbrunn Palace.
Although some kind of hilltop construction proved a very long-lived twinkle in various architectural eyes, salvation eventually arrived in the form of the Gloriette, constructed in 1775.
The building went up under the auspices and guidance of the impressively-named architect, Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg. A former theatre designer, he was busy implementing palace changes during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa.
As a variation on the concept of a triumphal arch, the militaristic decor and sculptures around the Gloriette echo the building’s apparent meaning as a monument to war. (It certainly sounds better than “custom garden feature.”)
The view of the Gloriette from below is certainly impressive and makes fot an excellent photo. However, the even better view is, perhaps, of the palace from the Gloriette.
As one writer put it way back in 1807 (my translation):
The view from the Gloriette is certainly unique and infinitely better than that from the belvedere in the gardens of Charlottenburg Palace…Vienna and its surrounds lie at your feet.
Vienna 1 Berlin 0.
And should you wish even better views than all that, buy a ticket for the Gloriette’s rooftop viewing terrace.
(The Gloriette in 1847, drawn by the artist Rudolf von Alt; Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. 138586; excerpt reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence)
Tickets & visitor tips
You can walk up to the Gloriette completely for free, since the building forms part of the open-access park and gardens that surround the palace.
To climb up to the viewing terrace, go around to the east side of the building to find the entrance to the stairs.
The terrace usually opens daily from late March or early April to early November. At the time of writing, an adult ticket cost €4.50, but various Schönbrunn combination tickets may include the Gloriette terrace.
Winding stone stairs take you to the roof, where you can walk along the entire length of the Gloriette and look down over the palace and wider Vienna. Benches up top allow you to take a breather should you need one.
(Schloß Schönbrunn, Wien – view of the palace from the Gloriette)
Many of the city’s great landmarks dot the view: the golden dome of the Steinhofkirche church, Stephansdom cathedral, the skyscrapers of Donau City, the Karlskirche church, and the tall Danube Tower, to name but a few.
A word of warning, though. The spire you can see in the distance directly behind the palace is not (as many visitors mistakenly believe) the cathedral, but the late-19th century Rudolfsheimer parish church.
The view is one of the city’s more romantic ones, so proves the ideal place for one or two moments with a loved one (been there, got the t-shirt).
For those of a more practical bent, the Gloriette also houses a modern café of the same name. The café resonates well with an earlier use of the building; Emperor Franz Joseph used it as a breakfast room.
And if you’re not ready for the café, but still in need of refreshment, simply enjoy some fresh alpine water from the drinking fountain on the other side of the central arches.
How to get to the Gloriette
Two main ways to reach the Gloriette once you find the palace:
- Go into the main courtyard, then around to the other side of the palace. Then climb the hill via the winding path that leads up from the Neptune Fountain you can see at the end of the gardens.
- Enter the Schönbrunn park area from the back (via the car park intended for zoo visitors), which starts you off at the top of the hill. Then just follow the signposts.