A big part of Schönbrunn
Schönbrunn palace wouldn’t be nearly as impressive without its gardens, and the gardens wouldn’t be so typically baroque without the Gloriette: above, it serves as an observation deck, while from below it is a landmark and a focal point.
The magnificent view over the Schönbrunn gardens and the western part of Vienna has to be earned however: the impatient take their chances on the steep climb up the straight paths to the left and right of the Neptunbrunnen (Neptune Fountain), while the more relaxed stroll along the serpentines to the Gloriette.
If you haven’t climbed up to the Gloriette, you haven’t seen Schönbrunn.
In his very first plans
from the end of the seventeenth century, the architect of Schönbrunn palace, Fischer von Erlach, had already envisaged a “beautiful vantage point”, a belvedere, on the Schönbrunn hill. However it wasn’t until 1775 that Empress Maria Theresia had Johann Ferdinand Hetzendorf von Hohenberg built the Gloriette, as a “temple of glory” for the victorious Habsburg armies.
Some parts of the building are actually considerably older, as they were recycled, as “vintage pieces” so to speak. They stem from the renaissance Schloss Neugebäude palace, ten kilometers away, which was begun in the 16th century under Emperor Maximilian II but never completed, and which from 1774 onwards was used by the military. Maria Theresia showed her sense of economy and ordered that valuable building elements such as columns, arcade arches and capitals be reused in the design of Schönbrunn’s gardens.
During Maria Theresia’s lifetime the middle part of the Gloriette was equipped with glass windows, and used up until the end of the monarchy as a banquet hall and ballroom. Emperor Franz Joseph I was another who liked to have breakfast in the light and airy Gloriette. Today the recently restored building houses a café in which guests can relax and enjoy the magnificent view over Schönbrunn and the city of Vienna.
Text: Kornelia Kopf, Fotos: Christine Wurnig