Tuesday, October 25, 2016

176. Autumn at Schonbrunn

The weather man had promised me today would be sunny and 19 degrees - but being a skeptic when it comes to weather reports, I still set-out with jacket, scarf, beenie and a pocket full of tissues for my runny nose just in case he was wrong ... well he wasn't totally wrong ... it didn't reach19 degrees but there was ten minutes of sunshine ...

Undeterred I grabbed the Underground for a short hop to visit the Autumnal gardens of the beautiful Schonbrunn Palace ...

 pretty impressive Front Door ...

Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence. Boasting  a mere 1,441-rooms, this Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in Austria and since the mid-1950s it has been a major tourist attraction.


The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.

In the year 1569, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II purchased a large floodplain of the Wien river beneath a hill, situated between Meidling and Hietzing, where a former owner, in 1548, had erected a mansion called Katterburg. The emperor ordered the area to be fenced and put game there such as pheasants, ducks, deer and boar, in order to serve as the court's recreational hunting ground. In a small separate part of the area, "exotic" birds such as turkeys and peafowl were kept. Fishponds were built, too.


At this time of year the Gardens really come to the fore with the wonderful golden hues of Autumn contrasting against the lingering greens of a Summer past. And the floor of the gardens becomes a soft carpet of fallen leaves ...

 Paths leading off to unknown destinations ...

 Statuary inviting the explorer to explore ...

Janus and Bellona ...

At the end of the seventeenth century Emperor Leopold I commissioned the Baroque architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, who had received his training in Rome, to design an imperial hunting lodge for his son, Crown Prince Joseph, later to become Emperor Joseph I. Replacing the château de plaisance built on this site for the dowager empress Eleonora of Gonzaga in 1642, it was to grow into a palatial imperial residence over the course of the eighteenth century.


During the next century, the area was used as a hunting and recreation ground. Especially Eleonora Gonzaga, who loved hunting, spent much time there and was bequeathed the area as her widow's residence after the death of her husband, Ferdinand II. From 1638 to 1643, she added a palace to the Katterburg mansion, while in 1642 came the first mention of the name "Schönbrunn" on an invoice.


Aspasia ...

The name Schönbrunn (meaning "beautiful spring"), has its roots in an artesian well behind the Gloriette - from which water was consumed by the court.


The Schönbrunn Palace in its present form was built and remodelled in 1740–50s during the reign of empress Maria Theresa who received the estate as a wedding gift. 

 Aeneas Escaping Troy ...

 The Great Parterre of Schönbrunn is lined with 32 sculptures 
representing deities and virtues ...
 
The sculpted garden space between the palace and the Sun Fountain is called the Great Parterre. The French garden, a big part of the area, was planned by Jean Trehet in 1695.

The garden axis points towards a 60-metre-high hill, which since 1775 has been crowned by the Gloriette structure. Maria Theresa decided the Gloriette should be designed to glorify Habsburg power and the Just War, and thereby ordered to recycle "otherwise useless stone" which was left over after the construction of the main palace. 

 Gardeners at work emptying beds in readiness for the winter ...

 Avenues of gold ...

 
 Perseus - slayer of Medusa ...

 Columbary for the pigeons and doves ...

 Paris - eloped with Helen thus caused the Trojan wars ...

Franz Joseph, the longest-reigning emperor of Austria, was born at Schönbrunn and spent a great deal of his life there. He died there, at the age of 86, on 21 November 1916. Following the downfall of the Habsburg monarchy in November 1918, the palace became the property of newly founded Austrian Republic and was preserved as a museum.


Extending for 1.2 km from east to west and approximately one kilometre from north to south, it was placed together with the palace on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1996.

 Quintus Fabius Maximus ...


The Neptune Fountain at the foot of the Gloriette hill was designed to be the crowning monument of the Great Parterre. Commissioned by Empress Maria Theresa, work on the fountain began in 1776 and was completed within four years, just prior to the death of the empress.

  View from the Gloriette hill back to the Palace

The Gloriette was destroyed in the Second World War, but had already been restored by 1947, and was restored again in 1995, and is now under wraps for a steam clean ...


Ceres Priestess ...

Autumn at its very best ...  

Hercules ...
 
 
 Flora - goddess of flowers ...


Cumaean Sibyl

 Then the sun appeared for ten minutes ...

... and lit up the golden avenues ...

Cincinnatus -
model of Roman virtue and simplicity



Persecuted Eurydice

set of follies - The Ruin of Carthage

  Aeneas escaping Troy ...

Mars and Minerva
 
East Wing ...


My quest today was to view the grand Schonbrunn Gardens in their Autumnal glory - and I wasn't disappointed in the least - the gardens and parklands are probably more colourful in the Autumn than in the Spring ...

Maybe something more indoorsy next blog ...