If you’re going to visit Schönbrunn, then take a ball of string and a handbook of Greek mythology, too. That way you can escape the Schönbrunn labyrinth in time for coffee and cake.
- Three mazes/labyrinths for young and old
- None are too big, so you should (hopefully) find your way out relatively easily
- Also a small playground
- Good to keep kids happy if they’ve overdosed on history
- Needs a ticket to enter
- See also:
Hidden delights of the maze
(Schönbrunn Palace maze and labyrinth © Schloss Schönbrunn Kultur und Betriebsges.m.b.H., Severin Wurnig)
The imperial owners of Schönbrunn liked to tick the boxes on summer palace requirements. Overdo the number of rooms, put in gorgeous gardens, lay down some Roman Ruins, throw in a fountain or five, and install a maze.
(Editor’s note: technically, mazes and labyrinths are different things. I’m not sure which is which at Schönbrunn, not that it really matters. So I’m just going to talk about mazes.)
Those mazes of the past served as landscape features and a place for a gentle stroll, with tall hedges offering a degree of privacy.
Imagine the whispered conversations that took place within…courtly machinations and hints of treachery. Or maybe they just tittered over the Empress’s taste in wigs.
Schönbrunn got its first mazes around 1720 and one even played a role in a song mentioned in an 1860 magazine, where a wife plays tricks on her husband (my rough translation of the relevant excerpt):
They went out with my cousin in the early morning
Into Schönbrunn and the menagerie
And mother explained everything to him
Then led my cousin into the maze
Once inside, they lost my father
And so my mother made a fool of my father
(Exit the mother in the arms of the good-looking cousin. It all sounds much better in German, believe me.)
The historical mazes more or less disappeared with time, neglect, and the cruel hand of history. Then in the late 1990s, a brand-new maze complex opened up.
Here’s what you get today…
Three hedge mazes
Hedge height and complexity increase as you move from one of the three new mazes to the next.
The largest has a viewing platform at its centre and spreads delightfully around an ancient plane tree. I didn’t go in, since I have the sense of direction of a blind salamander on sedatives and no wish to have my body discovered in some leafy corner by my crying widow.
Actually, the mazes shouldn’t trap you for all-too long. This is light entertainment, not a university entrance exam.
A small, but different, playground
Not the usual swings and roundabouts, but climbing frames, sand toys, little demonstrations of scientific principles, and a set of magic mirrors. So if you ever wanted to look taller, smaller, broader or slimmer, this is the place.
(Incidentally, if you enjoy optical illusions, take a trip to the Museum of Illusions in the city centre. Amazing place.)
A snack area
Just a few machines selling cold drinks, coffees, ice cream, chocolate and similar on my visit.
All-in-all then, the area feels like a place you might take a break from the weight of history.
Kids, in particular, can enjoy a little distraction and a sense of achievement. And the mazes make a quicker/cheaper alternative to a full-blown trip to the neighbouring zoo (which is great, by the way).
Tickets & visitor tips
You can buy an individual ticket for the maze area, but a multi-attraction combination ticket from Schönbrunn seems a good bet.
The combi-tickets make a lot of sense financially, if you’re going to do the self-guided palace tour and visit two or three other Schönbrunn attractions. They also mean you don’t have to queue at each separate ticket counter.
The Schönbrunn maze area, like several of the park attractions, closes for winter. Typical opening times are April through to early November.
How to find the maze
A better question might be how to find your way out of the maze (ba dum tish – I’m here all week. Try the fish).
Simply follow these directions for Schönbrunn Palace, then go round to the garden side of the main building (i.e. the south side).
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