Eastern Europe Part 2 travel blog

Schronbrunn Palace

View of Schronbrunn Palace from the garden

Upper Belvedere

“The Bride” by Gustav Klimt

Back of Upper Belvedere

Lower Belvedere

Taking advantage of the last day of our hop-off hop-on package we walk through Burggarten to catch the Blue Route to Schonbrunn Palace, summer residence of the Hapsburgs. First look it is similar to Versailles in France. It is quite large, but not quite as opulent as Versailles, especially the gardens.

Arriving at the entrance we are somewhat overwhelmed by the number of tour buses - did not count, but there were many!

We had purchased the Sisi package (includes the Schronbrunn Palace, the Sisi Museum (Imperial Apartments, Silver Collection and Vienna Imperial Furniture collection). Sisi is the nickname for Elizabeth of Bavaria, spouse of Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia and Croatia! Sisi was revered by the Austrians, especially after her death (she was assassinated in Geneva, Switzerland in 1898 by an Italian anarchist).

As we had the Sisi pass, we did not have to wait for a timed entry and were allowed directly in. The Schronbrunn Palace has 1,441 rooms with 40 shown to the public as the rest are rented to 260 civil servents. Unfortunately (for us) no photography was allowed. The exterior is Baroque. Interior was finished under Maria Theresa and is considered rococo, more ornamental and creates illusion and drama. The chandeliers are either of hand-carved wood with gold-leaf gilding or of Bohemian crystal. The especially thick walls allowed servants to stoke the ceramic stoves from behind the rather than enter the room. When WWII bombs rained on the city and the Palace grounds, the Palace itself took only one direct hit, crashing through three floors - including the sumptuous ball room - and was a dud.

Back on the Blue route bus to Belvedere Palace - the elegant palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736). Louis XIV considered him too short and ugly too be of service to France, so Eugene offered his services to the Hapsburgs. He became the greatest military genius of his age. As he left no heirs, the state got his property and Emperor Josef II established the Belvedere as Austria’s first great public art gallery. There are actually two palaces, the upper and the lower with beautiful gardens between! After lunch at the Belvedere Cafe (upper Belvedere) we toured the gallery to see some more Gustav Klimt as well as some by Van Gogh, Munch, etc. as well as some lesser known Austrian artists of the same eras.

Another full day came to an end with dinner at Il Tempo where Judi and I split an order of mushroom risotto with wine. - jc

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