5 castles series: Schönbrunn Palace

The baroque centerpiece of Vienna

I have decided to bow to expectation (and if you know me, you know how hard this is for me), and unveil some of the lesser known aspects of the ever-popular castles of Vienna. There are five of renown: Schönbrunn Palace, Hofburg Palace, Lower Belvedere, Upper Belvedere, and Schloss Wilhelminenberg.

Today we will tour Schönbrunn. Opulent homage to Maria Theresa, but originally built for Emperor Leopold I, this is where we spent much of our summers. How many rooms do you think in this Imperial cottage? Go ahead, take a guess. Nope, not even close.

1400 you say? Ding, ding, ding!

Schönbrunn is the well-known mother ship of the famous Palace Theater where Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played. Remember the movie Amadeus? The Palace Theater is where Mozart lost a contest for composers to his arch rival  Salieri.

i pledged my heart to the emperor in this very place. fitting, given that St. Augustine's is also called the habsburg heart crypt.

I married the Emperor in St. Augustine’s Church, another Schönbrunn feature. Perhaps my ambivalence on my wedding day has something to do with the fact that this church is also home to the exhumed Habsburg’s hearts? I don’t know. Just a thought.

Now we come to the most over-the-top aspects of Schönbrunn: the gardens and the zoo. The grounds, as you may glimpse below, continue to be manicured with characteristic Viennese attention to detail.  (Okay, let us call a spade a spade. Insufferable anal retention.)

As for the zoo, that is a sad memory for me. I bought a little macaque to entertain my daughter Valerie, but the ladies-in-waiting became quickly aghast due to its, um, indecorous obsession with its private parts, and it was then banished to the zoo. I could never bear to see animals behind bars, so, like a PETA member of yore, I boycotted the very institution.

That said, I should admit that I do have a prickly fondness for Schönbrunn on the whole. If for no other reason than, with 1400 rooms, I had ample space to hide from certain members of my family. All in all, if you have funds for one castle tour only, I suggest Schönbrunn without reservation. I mean with all those rooms embellished with gold leaf, the gardens, even the blasted zoo,  you are getting quite a hit of Vienna!

Fancy, yes?

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hats off to the princess

the not-so silent heroine of trw

A bit ago, I posted about the Royal Snubbing of Fergie, whilst musing on the possibility of Philip Treacy hats amongst the Royal Wedding retinue. My, my, am I prescient or what?

Not to toot my own horn, but I knew that where there’s a royal affair, there’s the pressure to set a trend. Not that any normal person could afford to tarry about under a Treacy headdress, but I’m sure there will soon be knockoffs fashioned by small Chinese children and sold for much more than the pennies they are paid.

Which makes it ironic (don’t you think) that Bea is auctioning off the hat and funneling the pounds to UNICEF, and Children in Crisis–two children’s charities. At this posting, the eBay bids have surpassed £20,200, and, along with that, some spotlight on the lot of poor and orphaned children throughout the world. It is often the reality that spectacle leads eventually to compassion, albeit circuitously. Who knew this better than the now-dead Princess Diana?

So here’s to Princess Bea–the child of the snubbed Fergie–she held her head (and headdress) with grace and class!