I’ve skipped Day 15, because there is nothing much to talk about, but don’t worry I’ll make up the extra post! Friday, was another super hot and humid day. To cool off we went swimming in the Danube after classes.

The following day was a Saturday, so naturally we slept in… just kidding.

I woke up at 7:00 so that I could get ready to catch the U4 (Underground #4) to Schönbrunn. Schönbrunn, meaning beautiful fountain, was the Habsburg’s summer residence, the Hofburg in Vienna being their winter one. Now Schönbrunn is home to a museum and many tourists.

As soon as we stepped off the UBahn it was immediately clear that we had stepped into another world. Most of the other underground stations are hard concrete and slick shiny walls covered in ads, but Schönbrunn’s was classy and old fashioned.

It’s hard to even explain how large Schönbrunn is. Sure, in pictures it looks pretty big, but in truth pictures just can’t capture how massive it really is. Not only is the palace itself huge, but the actual gardens go on forever. Even as I stood in front of the palace it was hard to wrap my mind around the wide open plaza. All I could think was, why in the world would someone NEED this much space? The very simple truth is that no one does, but it sure looks cool.

After about five minutes of walking from the front gates, we finally made it to the steps of the palace.

To either side of the palace there are gardens with trees lining each road and footpaths enclosed by small hedges. There is also a labyrinth and a zoo.

There were millions of roads like the one below, each tree trimmed exactly right and each hedge a perfect square. I could almost imagine the Habsburgs themselves taking a carriage ride or a nice stroll down the road. Schönbrunn was packed with tourists, but it’s so large that it was easy to get away from everyone and find a completely empty part of the garden.

To get to the back of the palace we took a side door and headed around the the left side of the palace. As it turned out we ended up going around the Prince’s personal garden, which is blocked by the towering hedge in the photo below. Although we could see between the hedges every once in a while, the Prince’s garden cost money so we decided to bypass it for the much larger and free garden.

While we were in the gardens for about two hours we were only able to see the area directly behind Schönbrunn palace. We’ve been told by a lot of people that Schönbrunn is a great place to run, because of its open paths and you can basically run in a different part every time and never get bored by the same scenery.

Directly behind Schönbrunn is a rocky area with six symmetrical flower gardens. If you stand on the steps of the palace and look out into the gardens everything lines up. In between the six gardens is the Neptune Fountain, then up the hill is the Gloriette, which was used as a dinning room, but now is a coffeehouse. Part of the building was destroyed by a bomb, but it was fully restored later on.

Neptune Fountain just at the base of the hill.

When we arrived early, around 9:30, the fountain was not on, so I was able to get a great shot of Schönbrunn from behind the fountain.

After admiring the intricate statues on the fountain we headed up the hill towards Gloriette. It was quite the climb, but not too difficult, because the air was much cooler and there was a little bit of wind too. Once we reached the top, the view was amazing. We could see all of Vienna spread out behind Schönbrunn.

Gloriette from afar.

On either side of the entrance to the dining room inside the Gloriette stands a statue with Roman armor, lions and standards (the scepter looking pieces). The standards were a symbol of Roman honor and were always protected in battle. If one was lost it was disgraceful and often Emperors of the Roman Empire would make it their goal to retake the standards if they were lost. The amount of standards this statue has just goes to show how highly the Habsburgs thought of themselves and how connected they were to the Romans.

Inside the Gloriette there is now a small restaurant.

After climbing the hill we headed back down to the labyrinth. The labyrinth in Schönbrunn is not very big and it seemed to be more geared towards children, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard! Although Addison could see over the hedges it was impossible to tell which path was a deadend. It took us a while to make it to the center and finally a little Japanese tourist, standing on a platform high above the maze, took pity on us and pointed us in the right direction. Inside there were three labyrinths. One that was meant to be complicated, another than had fun games and another that had a quiet little resting place in the center.

After we wandered through the gardens we made our way to the zoo, which is supposed to be one of the best zoos in the world. I have to admit, it was a pretty amazing zoo. All the animal’s inclousures were large and made to look just as fancy as the palace itself. It took us another few hours to make it through the zoo and by the time we left everyone was exhausted. We made a promise to come back and see the rest of the garden some other time.

Making my way back, I had the intention of returning to my room and just watching TV or drawing, anything to get off my feet, but that didn’t happen. As soon as I got back and sat down I realized how silly I was being. I was a Saturday, it was a Saturday night and I was in Vienna! It was then that I decided to go out and take more pictures!

****If you would like to know more about the Habsburgs, I’ve found a very cool interactive site that displays their history really well. I’ve linked it at the top under “Habsburgs”, but here is the same link.

The World of Habsburgs

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