The imposing palace sits at one end of the main gardens at Schönbrunn. At the other end is the Neptune Fountain (Neptunbrunnen), a water feature with truly imperial dimensions.
- Built in the late 1770s
- A magnificent Neptune and his raging sea horses look down over a large stone pool
- Watch out for spray on windy days
- Part of the free-to-view park complex
- See also:
(Schloß Schönbrunn, Wien – the Neptune fountain and Gloriette)
One of the things I love about Schönbrunn palace is the scale of things.
Practicality never seemed to have quite the same priority as making a distinctly monumental impression.
For example, if you’re going to have a fountain, then you want one that makes it clear just how important the homeowner is. Especially when that homeowner runs an empire.
And so it is with the Neptunbrunnen (Neptune Fountain), which is large enough that the pigeons need never argue about who gets to drink there first. Consider it the Habsburg equivalent of a water feature at the end of the garden.
The installation lies at one end of the beautiful landscaped area in front of the palace and dates back to the late 1770s and the “modernisation” of Schönbrunn under Empress Maria Theresa.
A large basin of water sits under a huge stone fountain decorated with figures from Roman mythology. At the centre, Neptune stands with a god’s casual insouciance, leaning on his trident, and flaunting his not inconsiderable stomach muscles.
Another sea deity (the Goddess Thetis) kneels before Neptune, who seems disinclined to hear her pleas. Tritons (mermen) and sea horses of the large, chomping-at-the-bit kind dominate the rest of the display.
The fountain operates from around April to mid-October, depending on the weather and maintenance requirements, with water flowing from 10am to 4pm (at the time of writing).
If you visit, be sure to take either of the paths leading up the hill to either side of the pool.
Both paths allow you to slip behind the fountain and look out through a small cave…the view of the palace below is quite magnificent and makes for great photos of both the building and landscaped gardens.
(Schloß Schönbrunn, Wien – Neptune on the fountain that bears his name)
The park opens (from 6.30am at the time of writing) well before the palace proper, so you can often get more-or-less people-free photos if you go in the early morning.
How to get to the Neptune Fountain
It’s kind of difficult not to find the fountain.
Simply get to the palace, then go around to the landscaped garden side and look out toward the hill. That huge marble fountain-like object at the foot of that hill? Yep, that’s it.
At the height of summer, you can spot the location by the crowds of people hoping to get a bit of cooling spray on the wind.
Inevitably, Vienna has a fair few monumental fountains but none on the scale of the Neptunbrunnen. The Hochstrahlbrunnen, erected in 1873, perhaps comes closest.