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 (or use a Vienna Pass)
- See also: Schönbrunn tickets & visitor info
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 tribute to war. (It certainly sounds better than “upmarket garden ornament.”)
While the view of the Gloriette from below is certainly impressive, the better view is, perhaps, of the palace down from the Gloriette.
And if you want even better views than that, you can buy a ticket for the rooftop viewing terrace. As one writer put it 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.
Tickets & visitor tips
(Schloß Schönbrunn, Wien – view of the palace from the Gloriette)
You can walk up to the Gloriette for free, since it’s 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 with its small ticket office and shop. (Or purchase your ticket online.)
At the time of writing, an adult ticket cost €4.50, but various Schönbrunn combination tickets include the Gloriette terrace, and a Vienna Pass (see a local review) gets you up once for free.
The terrace usually opens daily from late March or early April to early November.
Winding stone stairs take you up 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 if you need one.
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 stolen kisses from 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, having recently been re-glassed following renovation work. 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
There are two 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. Just follow the signposts.