Friday, August 23, 2013

Schonbrunn Palace

After tucking my very sick fellow traveler into our cushy hotel room I got on the Go Ahead tour bus and we all headed out to Shonbrunn Palace. After Melk Abbey I really didn't know what to expect but was hopeful to see something amazing. I wasn't let down. (click on the photos to see the larger version)
 The gates of the Palace set the mood. Highly ornate wrought iron beckons you to take a few moments to actually look at it and take in all of the detail. Sadly, most of those who enter the gates barely seemed to even see them.
 Schonbrunn means "beautiful spring" due to the artesian well on the property where they got their water. Built in the early 1600's, Schonbrunn was the Summer Palace for the imperial family. There just is no way to convey the size of this place. From the gates to the front stairway is at least as big as a professional football stadium!
 As with the gates, hardly anyone stopped to take in this fun fountain on the way into the Palace. I loved the "hanging out" attitude of it. Making it clear that this is a place to relax, to get away from it all, take a holiday.
 Horse drawn carriages helped to set the mood as well. We found out that these horses are, like in Salzburg, totally pampered animals. The carriage drivers spend a lot of time grooming them and taking care of them in between rides.
 The romance of the buildings details is hard to miss. From the beautiful lanterns to the impossibly ornate railings it bridges the line between plain and over-done constantly.
 From the twin walkway across from the one pictured on the far right, I was able to get this sweeping view of the front of the Palace. Just trying, still, to convey how large this place is in real life.
 I would have loved to have been able to photograph the inside but after this one photo I was told that there is absolutely no photography allowed, even without flash. This will give you a small idea of how ornate it is inside as well.
 After the inside tour we were able to have a short amount of time in the gardens. There are many sections to these gardens with their own mini gardens and features. You could easily spend hours exploring the grounds and never be bored. Unfortunately we were not given much time here.
I wandered off from the group, as I tend to do, to explore off the main walkway and found lovely shaded groves with their own statues to admire.
 When I got done with my wandering I headed back to the Palace. We were now on the back or garden side of the Palace which had it's own beautiful details.
 They really love their statues here. They are literally placed a few feet apart over every flat surface on the roofline!
But it was the staircase that I fell in love with. More lanterns I would love to have in my own garden...if my own garden was the size of Yankee Stadium that is.
But, like the front gates, most of those who tour this Palace walk right past these gorgeous works of art like they don't see them. I actually, by taking the photos of this staircase, managed to get some people to stop and actually LOOK at the amazing ironwork here. 
While gazing down these steps I tried to wrap my head around the idea of actually living here. Wondering if the family had become so jaded in their wealth that they didn't even notice the beauty that was everywhere they stepped or if, like me, they would take the time to actually soak it all in one section at a time.
From the top of the staircase you were able to look out over the main section of the back gardens. They are so big that there was no way my widest lens would be able to capture both sides at the same time!
 Several of our group walked down to the first set of fountains in the lower garden.
 I loved the horsemen but it was the man in the middle that made me laugh out loud. The sheer arrogance in his stance made it clear that he was definitely "Lording" over the entire group. (click on the photo to see the larger version)
We didn't have a chance to walk all the way up to the upper gardens but the facade up there, with it's own plethora of statues and gardens, really was something to see, even from afar.

The time we didn't get at Schonbrunn to explore wasn't an issue at Belvedere Castle the next day. I'll share that with you all next week!


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