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History Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn, 19th century © SKB

History of the Palace


An overview of the history of Schönbrunn Palace, the beginnings of which go back to the Middle Ages.

Schönbrunn draft II, Copperplate engraving from Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach © SKB

From hunting lodge to summer residence

The history of Schönbrunn and its predecessor buildings goes back to the Middle Ages (14th C.) In 1569 the “Katterburg” estate came into the ownership of the Habsburgs through Maximilian II. Legend has it that Emperor Matthias gave the area its present name after discovering a spring (“Brunnen”) here. In the late seventeenth/early eighteenth century a hunting lodge was built after plans by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, but remained unfinished because of the sudden death of Joseph I (1711). Major remodelling took place under Maria Theresa into a prestigious and (as of 1745) imperial summer residence and remained one of the centres of Habsburg state representation until the downfall of the Monarchy.



White-and-Gold Rooms

The group of the so called White-and-Gold Rooms on the south side were appointed at the latest during the 1760s/1770s and, with their white-and-gold panelled walls and the variously curving rocaille decorations, are outstanding examples of the rococo style typical of Maria Theresa’s era.



Colour lithography of the Great Gallery © SKB

Great Gallery

The high windows and the opposing crystal mirrors, the white-and-gold stucco decorations and the ceiling frescoes are in themselves a synthesis of the arts, forming one of the most magnificent rococo banqueting halls.

The electrical installation of the wall sconces and of the massive and extraordinarily resplendent chandeliers of gilt-wood was introduced in 1901. The Great Gallery was illuminated with a total of 1104 light bulbs.

In the course of the last comprehensive refurbishment of the Great Gallery in 2011/2012, an innovative lighting system was installed with a contemporary lighting system that creates as near an impression of candlelight as possible: for the first time, candle-shaped LED luminaires are used with integrated crystals that imitate flickering candlelight.

 


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