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Back in the 17th century, the Habsburgs had a small summer palace on this site. However, this was destroyed during the second Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683. After the defeat of the Turks, Emperor Leopold I commissioned the Austrian Baroque architect Fischer von Erlach with the construction of a hunting lodge. Fifty years later Maria Theresa had Schönbrunn remodelled in the Rococo style by her court architect Nicolaus Pacassi. Here she spent the summer months together with the court househo ...
 
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We are now in the Guards’ Room. The personal guard of Emperor Franz Joseph was stationed in this room to keep watch over the entrance to the emperor’s apartments. To your right is a ceramic stove, which like all the others in the palace was stoked (originally with wood) from a passage running behind the walls of the rooms, so that the imperial fami…
 
This room served as a waiting room for people attending an audience with Emperor Franz Joseph. Imperial audiences were held twice a week. The billiard table, which belonged to Franz Joseph’s grandfather, Emperor Franz I of Austria, was used by army officers to pass the time. On the walls you can see three large paintings. The central painting depic…
 
This room gets its name from the precious walnut panelling, which together with its gilded ornamentation and the console tables belongs to the original Rococo décor from the time of Maria Theresa. The chandelier dates from the 19th century. It was in this room that Franz Joseph received individuals who had requested an audience. People would come f…
 
Franz Joseph ascended the Austrian imperial throne when he was only eighteen. He dealt with a phenomenal amount of work each day: starting before five o’clock in the morning, he spent the day at his desk, which you can see here on the right, where he worked diligently through the files put in front of him. He even had his breakfast and lunch served…
 
Running to a strict schedule, the emperor’s daily routine began at four o’clock in the morning. After rising and performing his ablutions in cold water the emperor, who was a strict Catholic, said his morning prayers kneeling on the praying stool which you can see to the left of the bed. The iron bedstead is further evidence of the emperor’s rather…
 
In 1854 Franz Joseph married his cousin Elisabeth, who was just sixteen years old at the time. This room was furnished and decorated as their bedroom on the occasion of their wedding. Franz Joseph worshipped his wife all his life. Whether this affection was returned to the same degree remains a matter of speculation. Elisabeth rejected the rigid et…
 
The atmosphere of this room, which served Elisabeth as a reception room, is determined by the white and gold panelling, pale silk wall hangings and the sumptuous Neo-Rococo furniture. The clock in front of the mirror has a second mirror-image face so that it can also be read in the reflection. Note the pastel portraits dating from the 18th century …
 
This room was used as the family dining room. Imperial family dinners followed strict court ceremonial, and the table was always festively set with gilded centrepieces decorated with flowers, fruit and sweetmeats. At official dinners French cuisine was served, but for family dinners Franz Joseph preferred traditional Viennese dishes such as schnitz…
 
The Children’s Room is decorated with portraits of Maria Theresa’s daughters. Most of her eleven daughters were married off at a young age for political reasons. On the left just beside the door is the portrait of Marie Christine, Maria Theresa’s favourite daughter. The only one of her daughters allowed to marry for love, her husband was Albert of …
 
The Yellow Salon is the first room in the apartments on the side of the palace facing the gardens. It contains remarkable pastel paintings by the Genevan artist Liotard which show realistic depictions of children from middle class families. They contrast starkly with the typical courtly portraits of Maria Theresa’s children, examples of which you c…
 
The Mirrors Room was used for family celebrations during Maria Theresa’s reign, among other occasions for small concerts. In 1762 this room saw the first concert given by the six-year-old Mozart to the empress. After the performance, according to his proud father, “Wolferl jumped onto her majesty‘s lap, threw his arms around her neck and smothered …
 
Like the two following rooms, this room is named after Joseph Rosa, the painter of the landscapes that hang here. The first painting to the left of the door you have just come through depicts the Habichtsburg in Aargau in Switzerland, which is the ancestral seat of the Habsburg dynasty. Here you can see the portrait of Maria Theresa by the court pa…
 
You are now in the Great Gallery, which was used by the imperial family for balls, receptions and banquets. More than 40 metres long and almost ten metres wide, the Great Gallery formed the ideal setting for festive events at court. Decorated with crystal glass mirrors, gilt stuccowork and ceiling frescos, it represents a sumptuous example of Rococ…
 
Rooms known as the Chinese Cabinets flank the Small Gallery: on the left is the Oval Chinese Cabinet and on the right, the Round Chinese Cabinet. Maria Theresa was extremely fond of the contemporary fashion for Chinese and Japanese art. In both cabinets precious Chinese lacquer panels are set into the white wooden wainscoting. Their gilt frames dev…
 
The Carousel Room owes its name to the large oil painting hanging on the left. It depicts the Ladies‘ Carousel held by Maria Theresa in the Winter Riding School of the Hofburg in 1743 to mark the recapturing of Prague in the War of the Austrian Succession. This Winter Riding School, today known as the Spanish Riding School, is still the setting for…
 
During the reign of Maria Theresa the Hall of Ceremonies was used for smaller ceremonial festivities and to celebrate occasions such as christenings or weddings. The cycle of paintings hanging in this room depicts the wedding celebrations held on the occasion of the marriage of Maria Theresa’s eldest son and heir, Joseph, to the Bourbon princess Is…
 
The Blue Chinese Salon was decorated with these 18th-century hand-painted rice-paper wall hangings at the beginning of the 19th century. This room was the setting for the historic negotiations that culminated in the renunciation by Karl I, the last emperor of Austria, of participation in the affairs of government on November 11th 1918. The followin…
 
The Vieux-Laque Room was remodelled by Maria Theresa as a memorial room to her beloved husband, Franz Stephan, who died unexpectedly in 1765. Black lacquer panels from Peking were set into the walnut wainscoting and embellished with gold frames. After Franz Stephan‘s death, Maria Theresa wore mourning for the rest of her life. A note was found in t…
 
The Napoleon Room recalls the French emperor, who resided in this room – once the bedroom of Maria Theresa – both times he occupied Vienna, in 1805 and 1809. The marriage of Napoleon to Marie Louise, daughter of Emperor Franz II in 1810 was intended to cement the peace between the two rulers. After the fall of Napoleon, Marie Louise returned with h…
 
You are now in one of the most valuable rooms in the palace, known as the Millions Room. It owes its name to the wall panelling made of an extremely rare type of rosewood into which are set Indo-Persian miniatures. Depicting scenes from the private and court life of the Mogul rulers in 16th-century India, they were cut up by members of the imperial…
 
Both the walls and the armchairs in this room are covered in Brussels tapestry dating from the 18th century. The tapestries on the walls depict market and harbour scenes while the chairs are upholstered with tapestries representing the twelve months of the year. The following room, which was the study of Archduchess Sophie (Room 34) was part of the…
 
The portraits in this room show the emperors from the end of the 18th century, starting with Maria Theresa‘s son Leopold II, who followed Joseph II on the throne. Beside him is his son Franz, the last Holy Roman Emperor. In 1806, under pressure from the military victories won by Napoleon, he dissolved the Holy Roman Empire and proclaimed the Empire…
 
The Rich Room is named after the only surviving bed of state from the Viennese court. It was made at the time of Maria Theresa’s wedding and originally stood in Maria Theresa’s private apartments in the Vienna Hofburg. The wall hangings with embroidered architectural elements also belong to this bed of state with its draperies of red velvet and gol…
 
Together with the adjoining salon, this room was part of the suite occupied by Archduke Franz Karl, the father of Franz Joseph, in the 19th century. The paintings again take us back to the reign of Maria Theresa. The famous family portrait by Martin van Meytens shows Emperor Franz Stephan and Maria Theresa surrounded by their off-spring. The imperi…
 
The Habsburgs were passionately fond of hunting and shooting. On the left-hand side of the room you can see portraits of Maria Theresa’s parents, Charles VI and his wife Elisabeth Christine in hunting costume; between them is Franz Stephan, later husband of Maria Theresa, as a boy. Franz Joseph was also famous for his passion for shooting; even as …
 
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