Have you ever seen something so gorgeous, so mesmerizing, it literally stops you in your tracks?
It was my first day in Vienna, the capital city of Austria and the former seat of the once powerful Habsburg Empire which covered the vast majority of Eastern and Western Europe in the 18th to 20th century.
My first stop for the day? None other than the grand Schonbrunn Palace.
Since childhood, I have heard friends and relatives talk about the grandeur and allure of this palace. They talked about it with so much joy and passion that I thought, they must have really loved this place.
I also checked Lonely Planet, Time magazine, Rick Steves, and Fodor’s travel guidebooks and they all share the same conclusion that Schonbrunn is indeed one of the most majestic buildings in all of Europe. Such many people and guidebooks can’t all be wrong. Besides, this place is the number one tourist destination in Vienna.
Still, I tempered my expectations. All throughout my bus ride from Wien Niderhofstrasse, I was telling myself to calm done and not expect too much. It’s just a building, for Chrissake!!! And after all,
|View of the Schloss from the Hill|
After all, in my numerous travels, I have seen buildings and castles that were honestly, a bit of a letdown, after so much hype and praise.
I got off the bus and joined the sea of tourists heading to the Schonbrunn. In the street, I can see posters of the past monarchs who ruled the Habsburg Empire and called the palace their home since the 16th century.
These include the venerable Maria Theresa, said to be the most accomplished and efficient leader of the empire. There were also posters of Franz Joseph, the longest running emperor of Austria, and his wife Empress Elizabeth or Sisi, whose beauty was known througout Europe.
Schonbrunn Schloss, Up Close
After a few minutes walk, the gates of the Palace was already visible. I had so many thoughts and doubts going into the palace, but nothing prepared me for the sheer beauty of the schloss.
The immense size and grandiose of Schonbrunn Schloss took me by surprise. My jaw literally dropped and for a few minutes, I just stood at the gate admiring its perfection.
|The Roman Ruins|
The two fountains in front were already works of art. But they are no match for the main building itself. This Baroque and neo-classical Palace is so immense, it has 1, 441 rooms inside, all magnificent, I assume.
One lady tourist must have seen my mouth agape, as she gently approached me and placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. “If you think this is magnificent, wait till you see the other side,” she said.
I took as much photos as I could of the schloss’s facade and joined the throngs of people through the gate and to the other side of the building.
Then, I was simply dumbfounded.
It was so beautiful and big, and yellow, and pretty and gorgeous.
All I could say was ‘Wow”.
The gardens in front of it were beyond reproach. They are just too perfect.
Before I proceed, you have to understand where I am coming from. You see, you don’t see buildings and structure this grand and beautiful in the Philippines.
I am not trying to put my country down but I just think that architecture and beautifying the country’s landscape was not a top priority for the previous governments and empires. If there were buildings this beautiful, they are all gone.
Even with an aching feet, I strived to cover the entire complex of the schloss to discover all its hidden and famous portions.
I went inside Sisi’ privy gardens and I walked along the Great Parterre. I was absorbed by the beauty and nostalgia of the Roman Ruins or the Ruins of Carthage built inside the complex in the mid-18th century.
There was also the orangerie and the Tiergarten.
I felt so much joy after seeing couples sit and kiss in front of the Neptune Fountain located right at the foot of the hill. This is where most tourists young and old, stop to take a breather before taking on the 200-feet Schonbrunn hill.
|Lying on the Gloriette Hill|
I joined thousands of visitors climb the 60-meter high hill to see the Gloriette, a symbol of the power of the Habsburg empire ordered built by the great Maria Theresa. From the Gloriette, you will have a breathtaking view of the schloss, the entire complex and a great portion of Vienna.
Overwhelmed by the beauty of the hill and the palace below, I just laid on the grass for hours while staring at the bright blue Austrian sky.
Schonbrunn Schloss is not just a historical relic for the Viennese. It is also a part of everyday life.
All around the complex, you will see locals jogging and exercising in the many nooks and crannies of the gardens. At the rolling hill, you will see friends and families enjoying a picnic while admiring a spectacular view of the palace.
I didn’t know that it was set in Salzburg, I would have erupted into a rendition of “The Sound of Music”. In fact, I was singing the song all throughout my stay.
I was such in my happy place that I didn’t notice the passing of time. A quick look at the time and it showed that it was past 2pm. I stayed in the complex for more than four hours. That hasn’t happened to me before!!!
I usually check out a place and make a quick exit.
Right then and there I realized, that this place is truly different from all the other places I have seen it before.
|The Neptune Fountain|
Schonbrunn Schloss exudes so much charm and sophistication that I was completelt under its spell. I really wanted to stay the whole day, but alas, I have to visit other sites around Vienna, so I bid a bittersweet farewell. But I promise to come back soon, really, really soon.
|The Great Parterre|
|The Neptune Fountain|
|A couple admiring the view of the schloss|
|The Roman Ruin|
|Me at the Roman Ruin|