The Imperial Tour of Schönbrunn Palace ends in the glorious Hall of Ceremonies. But those with a Grand Tour ticket can continue to discover more Habsburg opulence in rooms carrying the heady scent of historical significance.
The Grand Palace Tour
(Schönbrunn Palace, Vieux-Laque room © Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H. – Alexander Eugen Koller)
The extended tour takes in another 18 rooms. Here are my pick of the highlights from my own trip around these additional chambers…
- Right at the start (still in the Hall of Ceremonies) is the grand painting of wedding celebrations with the fake Mozart.
- For another encounter with great moments in world history, enter the Blue Chinese Salon. Just over a hundred years ago, the last Emperor (Karl I) stood here and agreed to give up any role in government following the defeat of Austria-Hungary in WWI.
This brought an end to a monarchy that had ruled Vienna and various dominions throughout Europe for hundreds of years.
- Perhaps my favourite location: the Vieux-Laque Room (see photo above). Empress Maria Theresa redecorated it in honor of her late husband.
The artistry is breathtaking, but the chamber also reveals a rarely-seen side of the monarchy. I got the sense that here was not an Empress at all, but simply a woman in love with a man whose death in 1765 affected her deeply. Wealth and power offer no protection from loss and grief.
- But back to history and the Napoleon Room, with no prizes for who likely stayed here. Napoleon based himself at Schönbrunn during his occupation of Vienna in the early 19th century.
Echoes of Napoleon’s stay resonate around the city. For example, the Burggarten owes its existence to his army’s destructive withdrawal. His carriage sits in the Wagenburg. His second wife lies in the Kapuzinergruft crypt. And their son’s rather expensive cot resides in the Imperial Treasury.
- The walls in the Porcelain Room may look like, well, porcelain, but are actually drawings on wood. Quite apart from the beauty of the illusion, the panelling includes remarkably-decent paintings by Maria Theresa’s children. In fact, royal paintings, drawings and artistry appear throughout the tour.
- The extremely-rare and valuable East Indian rosewood panelling and embedded Indo-Persian miniatures explain the name of the Millions Room.
- The Rich Room contains a bed which stands at the opposite end of the scale to the simple piece of furniture Franz Joseph died in (see the Imperial Tour). The bed of state was made for Empress Maria Theresa and intended for ceremonial purposes.
(Aside: you know you’ve made it in life when you have a bed for purely ceremonial purposes. The only question I have, though, is quite what that involves. The annual Changing of the Sheets? Or something more intimate involving conjugal rights?)
And that’s just about it for your tour of Schönbrunn Palace. It may be the highlight of a trip to Schönbrunn, but by no means the only one: try some more suggested activities.