Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous have nothing on this 1,441 room Baroque masterpiece and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Schönbrunn Palace, whose name literally means ‘beautiful spring,’ was the dazzling focus of court life during Habsburg rule, celebrating Austrian culture and hosting the leading statesmen of Europe and the world – both then and now. A mere hour’s drive from Vienna, it was one of the first homes of Marie Antoinette (the daughter of Empress Maria Theresa who was then known as Marie Antoinia). Mozart at the age of only six-years-old performed in the Hall of Mirrors for one of his first royal audiences (hence it is also the location of where he and a seven-year-old Marie Antoinette legendarily first met). Years later, Napoleon chose it for his Austrian headquarters when he occupied Vienna in 1805 -- and after his defeat and exile, his son grew up here. In more modern times, the palace hosted the legendary meeting between John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev in the opulent Great Gallery.
Originally built for Emperor Leopold I in 1696, the palace’s golden age truly began five decades later when Empress Maria Theresa commissioned court architect Nikolaus von Pacassi to create glamorous interior modifications. These designs added to the luxurious beauty of Johann Fischer von Erlach’s original exterior and were completed between 1749-1749. Adding many splashes of Rococo to the overall design, von Pacassi added a magnificent court theatre and Great and Small Galleries, the latter two of which were used as receptions. The palace is outfitted with numerous Bohemian crystal chandeliers, white porcelain tile stoves, frescoed ceilings, huge mirrors, gilded ornaments, 18th century furnishings and ceiling frescoes celebrating the history of the mighty Habsburgs.