Friday, December 18, 2009

A stroll through Schönbrunn

There are so many nice places in Vienna that I never bother mentioning them -- simply because I hardly ever go there, but also because I am so used to them, that I do not consider them so special. However, it's always nice, to take a walk around the center (it's a pedestrian zone) or other parks. Filigree has once mentioned the Augarten as her favorite park in Vienna. Now here's one rather touristy place that is also very enjoyable:

Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn

The Schönbrunn palace (with an umlaut written as "Schoenbrunn") is the former residence of the Habsburg monarchs and the whole area very very pompous, both the palace and the surrounding gardens. If you're interested in the historical background I recommend to visit the offical website of the Schönbrunn palace or Wikipedia (and Vienna :)).

Soon after the end of the monarchy the population of Vienna discovered the park as an attractive recreational area, which it is still. In December 1996 the Schönbrunn Palace was put on the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites.

Map of the palace (the yellow thing in the South) and parks at Schönbrunn

Schönbrunn can easily be reached by the U4 subway stop "Schönbrunn" or -- of course my favorite way to get there -- by various bike paths. In front of the main gate there are a few bike racks. Unfortunately one is not allowed to ride (nor walk) the bike inside :(.

As in many places in Vienna, these days a Christmas market is set up right in front of the castle. However, it's rather crowded there and definitely not my favorite Christmas market in Vienna (more about that one the next time).

Bike racks at the main gate
Christmas market in front of the palace

Leaving all this people behind, one should start to explore the gardens around the palace. In the summer the place is really colorful, the statues are not covered and the fountains are working. It's easy to lose time there -- or get lost in the maze. But even in the winter a stroll through the alleys is very relaxing and impressive. And there's always the possibility to visit one of the theme areas (palm pavilion, desert house, japanese garden etc.) or the zoo...

Stroll through the gardens in the winter

Did you know that the Menagerie Schönbrunn is the oldest existing zoo in the world? It was found in 1752 by Franz Stephan, husband of empress Maria Theresia. Until the end of her reign the menagerie was largely reserved for the imperial family. In 1778, the zoo, along with the castle and the park, were opened for "decently dressed persons", initially on Sundays only. If you're interested in going there too, have a look at the homepage of the Zoo Vienna.

It's also in the zoo where I saw some bicycles, most prominently "Tom Turbo", a famous bicycle from an Austrian TV series (I already wrote about it in September, click here). In the summer the zoo hosted an exhibition called "Trouble in paradise" to make the confrontation nature vs. civilization visible for visitors. A sunken car wreck at the rhinos (apparently, the rhino sadly fell in love with his new companion), railroad tracks in the bison pen or toxic waste in the aquarium etc. are certainly unexpectedly interfering with our notions of idyllic wildlife. The viewer is forced to reconsider traditional modes of animal presentation and simultaneously to question the authenticity of concepts which are restaging "natural" environments while they are increasingly endangered. Read more about this interesting concept here.

Tom Turbo
Café in the zoo
Bicycle for the employees

Well, I hope you get outside too and enjoy the town you live in. Walking and cycling are ideal means of transport to see and feel more of your surroundings :).


Steve A said...

Are the bikes not allowed inside the gate, or is it that people stop at them to enjoy a pleasant walk?

anna said...

Unfortunately it's not allowed to take the bicycle inside (even not without riding it). I was stopped when I wanted to walk my bike from one side of the park to the other. Rather complicated cause one always has to do a round tour this way (and the gardens are huge, so you never get to see everything anyhow).

Anna said...

I wish I had seen the interesting exhibition at the zoo!

This post made me travel back time when we were in Schönbrun...I could not resist taking out the Vienna album :D. It's a very a nice place, Schönbrunn!

Sonja said...

LOL, Tom Turbo is übercool!

Velouria said...

Very nice photos; I had never been to the Schönbrunn in the winter. And I did not know they had bicycles for employees!

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