History of the Orangery

at Schönbrunn

At the latest in the 1640s, the dowager empress Wilhelmine Amalie commissioned the planning of an orangery garden in Schönbrunn.

The very largest Baroque orangery buildings after Versailles

At the latest in the 1640s, the dowager empress Wilhelmine Amalie commissioned the planning of an orangery garden in Schönbrunn and the erection of a greenhouse for wintering the bitter orange plants; both were probably in the east part of the garden grounds. On the initiative of Emperor Francis Stephen I, the Orangery building was put up around 1754, most likely after plans by his court architect Nicolas Jadot but under the direction of his successor as court architect, Pacassi. The simultaneous erection of a citron house was associated with this building; the Orangery garden was also laid out around 1760.

The Schönbrunn Orangery is 189 metres long and 10 metres wide and is one of the very largest Baroque orangery buildings after Versailles; even today parts of it are used according to the building’s original function.

Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- u. Betriebsges.m.b.H. / Hannes Grundschober

189m long and 10m wide - The Orangery at Schönbrunn Palace

The cultivating of tropical plants

The semi-circular and centrally projecting Cedrathaus, the Citron House, is connected at the east side to the hall building; it also encircles the narrow east side of the Orangery garden. The façade is structured with large arched openings and blind arcades. The Cedrathaus was probably used for cultivating tropical plants, for which the climate of the long Orangery interior was less suitable.

The Orangery garden was used since its beginnings as pleasure and kitchen garden. Its parterre, already named “Orangery and Orchard Area” in 1778, is divided up into eight geometric sections, their axes accentuated by fountains. Two further quarter-circle segments can be seen in front of the Cedrathaus, which, like the other parterre sections, were set with potted plants. These potted plants were usually accommodated for wintering in the Orangery building, where underfloor heating– a hypocaust system – provided an amenable climate for the plants. Sensitive fruit sorts were cultivated in their own glasshouses in front of the building.

Orangerie und Treibobstgarten Kupferstich

Schönbrunn Orangery and Drift Orchard, copperplate engraving

Fountains in the Orangery garden

In the 1770s three fountains were installed in the garden that all presumably came from the palace new building. The most important fountain made around 1575/80 by the Dutch sculptor Alexander Colin was given a place in the centre of the Orangery garden. Because of its poor condition – caused by the weather and lack of care – the fountain was removed and after comprehensive restoration re-installed in 2000. Already in 1990 in the course of the reconstructing the Orangery garden, the west basin was replaced by a reconstruction and the round east basin refurbished

Orangeriegarten mit Brunnen

Orangery Garden with fountain

Further Reading