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  • History | Peru > Pachacamac
    Updated at Jul 3,2013

    The Incas were the last highly advanced culture in a series of ancient Peruvian civilizations. They arose in the 13th century in the Cusco region, and for the following 200 years their expansion was limited and slow.

    The central coast of Peru and the area of Lima was incorporated into the Empire between 1460 and 1470. While the Incas usually repressed conquered tribes erasing their culture and tradition, in the Lima region it seems they partly diverged from their norm. They imposed a political and administrative reorganization, but allowed most "old" rulers to retain their political and administrative powers.

  • History | Peru > Vilcashuamán
    Updated at Jul 3,2013

    The Incas established Vilcashuamán as an administrative center after they conquered the Chancas and the Pocras. Vilcashuamán was home to 40,000 people, and city was located around a large plaza where ceremonies involving sacrifices were performed. Around the plaza were the city's two most important buildings - the Sun Temple (Templo del Sol) and the Ushnu, which remain to this day.

    It is believed that the city had the shape of a falcon, the Ushnu was  located in the head. "Vilcashuamán" in Quechua is "Sacred Hawk".

  • History | Greece > Chania
    Updated at May 22,2013

    The Venetians, during the 13th century, bought Crete from the Marquis of Montferrat, Who led the Fourth Crusade, which ended with the fall of Constantinople. But after a short time the army of Genoa, with the help of local Cretans, conquered Chania and took control of the city. It took the Venetians 20 years to get the city back, and after that episode they ruled the city with a tighter feast. The Venetian harbor was built between 1320 and 1356, and was used for commerce and to secure the control of the Sea.

  • History | Germany > Lubeck > Altstadt > St. Katherine Church - Katharinekirche
    Updated at May 22,2013

    Modern statues (Ernst Barlach amongt others) stand in front of the 14th century facade of this church-museum. A famous paint of Tintoretto stands immediately on your right in the main entrance. This famous statue of the Knight on the Dragon stands in front of the museum:

  • History | Germany > Lubeck > Altstadt > Breite Straße > Schifferge​ssellschaf​t - the Sailors Guilde house in the Breite str.
    Updated at May 22,2013

    A facade with Renaissance gables. The interior houses a picturesque restaurant  with wooden tables, model ships and metal lamps.

  • History | Mexico > Palenque, Mexico
    Updated at Aug 15,2013

    The next day we woke up, drank some coffee, ate some good pancakes at Dom Mucho, and went to visit the Palenque archaeological site. The arrival is by a shuttle from the El Panchan crossroad and should cost 10 pesos (if you arrive from Palenque it should be 20; we also paid 20 but it shouldn't be that way).

    Entrance fee is 27 pesos for getting to the reservation and another 57 pesos for the ticket into the sight. 

    This place is amazing. We did Chichen Itza a week before and were very disappointed, mainly because of the guides. So here we didn't take any guides. The ruins in the entrance are very impressive and you can climb them (unlike in Chichen Itza). But the peak of the day was the tour inside the jungle. You get into the jungle and see the Mayan remains in the nature, amazing rivers, wild landscape, and the whole time you hear the sounds of the monkeys. A bit stressful in the beginning but it's crazy!

    To sum it up - don't miss this sight. 

  • History | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    Main attraction: Hampton Court Gardens and Palace, The Thames, Kingston-on-Thames, Bushy Park, Diana Fountain. Circular route.

    From: Hampton Court train station.

    Back: Hampton Court train station.

    Walking Distance: Approx. 12 km.

    Getting to Hampton Court:

    Catch a train from Waterloo to Hampton Court (zone 6). It takes about half an hour from Waterloo. Buy a return ticket.

    River Boat:
    For a picturesque trip go by river. Take a boat for three and a half hours from Westminster, but you can cut down on that by taking the tube to Richmond and catching the boat there. Your Travelcard will give you a 33% discount on the river trip.

    Lunch: The visit in Hampton Court will consume half a day. There is a restaurant in Hampton Court. It is quite pricey and the portions are not so generous. I recommend delaying your main meal until you arrive to Kingston.

    Opening times of Hampton Court Gardens & Palace: Summer: 10.00-17.00, winter: 10.00- 16.30.

    Adult Ticket £16.00. You can purchase a ticket for the Gardens only. Remember: Hampton Court is included in the 2 for 1 attraction scheme for the Travelcard holders. For touring the gardens - the site's map (included with your ticket) is very helpful.

    Duration and orientation: Allow 4-5 hours for the Hampton Court Gardens and Palace. You exit from the Hampton Court gardens to the Thames river from a side gate (100 metres from the main entrance). No need for detailed instructions until you arrive to Kingston. You just follow the tarmac path along the river from Hampton Court to Kingston. From there I'll supply detailed road-map... The main attraction is Hampton Court. The Bushy Park is very athmospheric and looks more African than European... Do not expect a lot of visitors there. The Diana Fountain is impressive and grandiose.

    Main entrance to Hampton Court:

    20th Century Gardens:

    "The Wilderness":

    Carriage rides (in the summer):

    Exit to the Thames from (closed) gates of the Knot Gardens:

    The Knot Garden:

    "The Great Vine":

    The Privy Garden:

    The Lower Orangery Garden:

    The Pond Gardens:

    Hampton Court Palace - the Clock Court:

    Wiliam III Apartments:

    Queen Caroline's Bedchamber:

    The Library:

    Dining Room:

    Henry VIII:

    The Great Hall:

    Henry Viii, Jane Seymour (his 3rd wife) and their son Edward VI:

    Queen's Public Room:

    Queen's Bathroom:

    Queen caroline Oratory Room:

    Great Fountain and Gardens from the Palace:

    Ann Boleyn's Gateway:

    The walk from Hampton Court Bridge (or, better, exit gate of the Palace park) to Kingston Bridge lasts for 2 hours, approx 6 km.). This delightful stretch of river offers the perfect opportunity for a relaxing walk as the gentle path meanders alongside the Thames with no bypasses. You will pass on your way: Ditton and Surbitton (on the opposite bank).

    Hampton Court Walseley Gate - from the Thames Path:

    The Thames - not far from Hampton Court Bridge:

    Houses on the Thames bank - between hampton Court and Ditton:

    Near Surbiton:

    Kingston-upon-Thames Pier:

    Kingston-upon-Thames Bridge:

    Just before the Kingston Bridge you get off from the Thames Path and turn left.  Crossing the bustling road and passing through Kingston High Street  - head to the main road in this area of Kingston: Hampton Wick. Walk along bustling Hampton Wick road for 1.5 km and note on your left some interesting houses dating from the 19th century:

    Follow the Hampton Wick road to the left and turn left to Vicrage Rd. (signposting to Teddington). The road bears left and, immediately on your right, there is a black metal gate to enter Bushy Park.

    Please have a look at the local map on your right - immediately in the entrance gate. You take the Cobbler Walk. Walk along this tarmac path (approx. 2 km.) until you arrive to an asphalted road - the Chestnut Avenue.

    Bushy Park - Cobbler Walk:

    Bushy Park - Chestnut Avenue leading to Hampton Court. A grand approach, designed by Wren, to the planned northern facade of Hampton Court. Its main attraction is the imposing Diana Fountain:

    Arriving to Hampton Court grounds make your way again to the main entrance. The afternoon sun lights the Palace, the Gardens and the Thames in a charming colour:

  • History | United Kingdom > London, United Kingdom > Greenwich
    Updated at Mar 16,2014

    A pleasant oasis of historical sites, markets, books and antiques shops and splendid waterfront.

    Directions: There are several ways to arrive to Greenwich (from Central London) - most of them are amazing.

    1. Cruise - Join a boat of Thames Clippers (departure from London Eye or Westminster Bridge). A must ! The boat stops at North Greenwich (near the O2) or at Greenwich Pier - a few metres from all Greenwich attractions. There is a special Blog on this journey in Tipter unter this trip.

    2. Take the Emirates Air line (Thames Cable Car) from Royal Victoria Dock DLR station to the North Greenwich station. Marvelous ! Your camera won't stop taking pictures. A budget service with excellent service. Wait until the tourists load in decreasing and try to enter your own, private cabin...

    Cash        single fare    Oyster or Travelcard user "Frequent flyer"
    Adult       £4.30             £3.20                                     £16.00
    Child       £2.20             £1.60 

    3. Come with the DLR (Cutty Sark, Greenwich). % minutes walk to Greenwich main attractions.

    4. Come with the Natioal Rail train to Greenwich station. 15 minutes pleasant walk to the Cutty Sark and the other attractions through St. Alfege church and Greenwich High Street.

    5. I recommend you a fifth way: From wherever you are, travel to Deptford Bridge DLR station (Bank - Lewisham DLR line). After descending Deptford Bridge DLR stn. steps - turn left and take a 53 bus heading to Blackheath Hill. The 53 bus runs every few minutes.You get off at Greenwich Park (one stop after Charlton Way). 5 minutes walk and you enter the park by the main entrance. Walk through the gates, famous as the scene of the start of the London Marathon, and walk straight ahead to the Rose Garden and other flowers beds.

    This Tip sticks with the Direction 5... Greenwich Park is lovely (still recovering from the Olympic egames) with a wonderful view of Greenwich's historic waterside buildings and a panorama of London north of the river. Historically, it was the grounds of the royal palace and still a Royal Park. It is better to start with the park, on top of the hill and then, walk down the hill for the main attractions.

    After passing te Golden Gates of the Greenwich Park, the Ranger House, the Rose garden and flower beds - you are now standing and gazing at one of the world's most beautiful views: fantastic view of Canary Wharf and the O2 from the famous hill of the park. Downstairs , that's Greenwich, the Thames and London. On a fine day most of London can be seen from here.

    On top of the same hill with the wonderful panarama of London and the Thames is a statue of General James Wolfe, (1727-59) looking out towards the river. General Wolfe led the British forces at Quebec against the French and won a great victory, at the cost of his life. He was a resident of Greenwich and is buried in the parish church, St Alfege's.

    View of Greenwich, London and the Thames from the steps of the statue -

    The Greenwich Royal Observatory was founded by order of King Charles II to study astronomy. The oldest in the group of buildings comprising the observatory is Flamsteed House. It was built in 1675. The time ball on the roof was first erected in 1833, providing the first public time signal. Opening hours: 10.00-18.00. Entrance to the Astronomy Centre: free, To the Flamstead Bldg. and the the Meridian Courtyard: 7 GBP.

    Other buildings include the Meridian Building, which is really three, built between 1749 and 1855, and the Great Equatorial Building with its onion-shaped dome. This was built in 1857, with a dome installed in 1893. The dome was severely damaged during the second World War, and the existing dome was erected in 1975. The meridian that divides the Earth's eastern and western hemispheres passes through here. Tourists aree photographed here standing with a foot on ether side of it.

    In year 1884, Greenwich Mean Time became the basis of time measurements around the globe.

    Next to the Observatory buildings is the new (opend in 2007) Peter Harrison planetarium which employs the latest space exploration technology. This is a state-of-art Planetarium - the only one in Londn.

    Now you walk downhill, through an impressive avenue of ancient trees - heading to the Maritime Museum. It is the world's largest maritime museum. Free admission. It includes a vast collection of everyting associated with the sea. Plenty of exhibition. Bright and airy museum with 3 floors of exhibits. 

    Opening hours: 10.00–18.00.  In the enclosed photo: Prince Frederick's Barge (1732).

    On permanent display, in front of the Maritime Museum is the Yinka Shonibare's "Ship in a Bottle". It has been moved from Trafalgar Square in April 2013.

    Greenwich Queen's House has less broad appeal than other Greenwich big hitters.  The Queens House has an interesting collection of paintings including one awesome Turner, famous portaraits of Elizabeth the First, Henry VIII, a couple of Van Dykes etc'., Do not miss the beautiful Tulip Stairs, and the lavishly painted Queen's bedroom and the geometric patterns in the cubical Queen's salon. Opening hourse: 10.00-17.00. Free.

    Queen's House - The Entrance

    Queen's House - The spiral Tulip Stairs:

    Now you approach King William Court with two buildings on both sides of the court: The Royal Naval College and the Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul. For both of them - admission is free. Open daily 08.00 - 18.00

    The Royal Naval College is an once-in-life experience: stunning architecture and breath-taking painted hall. The painted hall designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1698, originally intended as an eating place for naval veterans. The interior was painted by James Thornhill. It took him 19 years to complete this masterpiece. In 1806, after the Battle of Trafalgar, the body of Horatio Nelson was brought to lie in state in the Painted Hall. A plaque marks the spot where his coffin was placed before it was taken for burial in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral.

    The Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul was constructed by Thomas Ripley to the designs of Sir Christopher Wren. Originally, it was a major part of the Royal Hospital for Seamen to be built. Following a disastrous fire in 1779, it was redecorated by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart in the Greek revival style. Today it is a wonderful example of a complete neoclassical interior. The Chapel is often used for concerts thanks to its excellent acoustics of its glorious curved ceiling. 

    University of Greenwich from Greenwich Pier:

    ...and from Nando's restaurant near the Cutty Sark:

    The Cutty Sark - The clipper built in 1869 gained its fame on the China tea trade. Later, it plied in the wool trade with Australia. It has been brought to Greenwich in 1954. The name "Cutty Sark" means "Short Shirt" derived from Robert Burn's poem. en: 11.00-17.00.

    Greenwich Market: 

    Practical Information: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 to 17:30.

    Well known for its designer makers and customers can found items that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. It is regarded as one of London's best markets.

    St. Alfege Church: Distinctively designed by Nicholas Hawksmoore with gigantic columns and urns. Completed in 1714. Open: Sat. 11.30-16.00, Sun. 12.00-16.00 only.

  • History | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    Dover Castle:

    There are, mainly, two top attraction in Dover: The Castle and the Cliffs. Every one of them deserves a FULL one day. Allow time for Dover downtown only for having a lunch or for shopping (cheaper than many other places in the UK !). The Dover Castle is the first line of defense for the UK for centuries. The extensive site includes: a mighty fortress (the greatest in the UK), medieval royal palace, the Secret Wartime Tunnels dug deep under / into the white cliffs and present, astonishingly the "Miracle of Dunkirk Retreat" (operation Dynamo) in year 1940.

    Opening Times: Daily 09.30/10.00 - 18.00.

    Price: 17 GBP. Concessions: 15.30 GBP.

    I climbed the whole way to the castle on foot. I was among very few who arrived to the castle on foot. You are told, on your way up the castle hill to "go to the tickets office and pay your entrance fee". It is up to you whether you pay or just continue walking into the huge site and explore it for hours without being checked even once. You are not asked to show your ticket even when you take part in the various attractions (like visiting the underground tunnels etc'). Coming with a car you must pay for your entrance tickets before being allowed to enter the site with your car. A great part of the visitors enter the Castle site with a member card - so, practically, they pay nothing for every visit...

    Special Events:

    It would be a good advice to plan your visit ahead and target it in sync with one of the numerous special events' days during the year: Roman Festival, Clash of the Knights days, Knights Tournaments, Falconry days, WWW II weekends, St. George Festival day, Children Festival.

    Walk to the Castle: You will see the brown signposts of Dover Castle from the moment you leave the Priory Dover Railway Station. It is 40-45 minutes walk to the Castle hill, passing the town centre with its attractive fountain:


    The last section of climbing the steep Castle hill is quite demanding. You are rewarded by having nice views to the sea and Dover Harbour.

    Allow, at least, 5-6 hours for the whole visit of the Castle hill and its attractions. Come no later than 09.30-10.00 !!!

    Even without the special events there was plenty to see and do. Spectacular castle, amazing views and friendly staff. Even if the morning is misty or windy it contributes to the eerie atmosphere. With bright weather you'll have beautiful panoramic views:

    Dover Cliffs from the Castle Hill (Admirality Lookout):

    Dover Castle walls:

    Roman Lighthouse Pharos and St. Mary-in-Castro Church:

    St. Mary-in-Castro Church interior:

    Palace Gate:

    The Great Tower:

    Views from the Tower top terrace are magnificient:

    Do not miss visiting the main Castle / Palace Henry II galleries and rooms including also the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment Museum:

    There is also a permanent exhibition of UK battles and wars during the centuries in Dover Castle (here the Imperial India room:

    King's gate:

    Medieval tunnels used also in the Napoleonic wars + Battlements Cannons (18th - 19th centuries):

    A walk around the perimeter is stunning. There are amazing views of the town of Dover and the English Channel:

    The WWW II Secret Tunnels themselves justify the hefty entrance price. Advice : go to the tunnels first as they have a long queue later in the day of more than an hour. They are 26 metres beneath the castle. There were the heart and the brain of Operation Dynamo - the evacuation of allied troops from the beaches of France in Dunkirk. Visitors witness the place where this operation took place: round-the-clock planning to assemble a huge fleet of ships to evacuate 338,000 British and French troops from Dunkirk:

  • History
    Updated at Nov 18,2014

    Schönbrunn Palace interiors:

    Tip 1: General information and the Palace Interiors - the Imperial Tour.

    Tip 2:  Palace Interiors - Rooms included in the Grand Tour.

    Tip 3:  Schönbrunn Gardens and other sites.

    ******************** Tip 1 *****************************

    Transportaion: Public transport lines arrive directly to the palace: Underground: U4, Schönbrunn station,
    Trams: 10 and 58, Schönbrunn station,
    Bus: 10A, Schönbrunn station.

    From the Westbahnhof (western railway terminal): journey time approximately 15 minutes - take the westbound tram line No. 58 and alight at Schönbrunn. From the Station Meidling: journey time aproximately 30 minutes - take the northbound U6 (brown) underground line and alight at Längenfeldgasse, then change to the westbound U4 (green) underground line and alight at Schönbrunn.

    Opening Hours: Schönbrunn Palace is open daily, including public holidays. 1st April to 30th June 08.30 to 17.30, 1st July to 31st August 08.30 to 18.30, 1st September to 31st October 08.30 to 17.30, 1st November to 31st March 08.30 to 17.00. Ticket sale starting at 08.15.

    Duration: 1 day.

    Tours types:

    Imperial Tour: 22 rooms, c. 30-40 minutes, € 11,50 / € 8,50 (see below).  You will see the state rooms and private apartments of Franz Joseph and Sisi.

    Grand Tour: 40 rooms, c. 50-60 minutes, € 14,50 / € 9,50 (see below). Besides the state rooms and private apartments of the imperial couple you´ll also see the precious 18th-century interiors from the time of Maria Theresia.

    There are combined tickets of the Schönbrunn and Hofburg Palaces.

    Prices:            Imperial Tour           Grand Tour                   Grand Tour
                            with audio guides   with audio guides         with guide
                            ------------------------    -----------------------         ---------------

    Adults                            € 11,50               € 14,50                       € 16,50
    Children (aged 6 - 18)   € 8,50                 € 9,50                         € 11,00
    Students (aged 19 - 25) € 10,50               € 13,20                       € 15,20
    Disabled persons          € 10,50               €13,20                        € 15,20

    Tips: Most of the outside grounds are free but you'll have to join a tour to see the inside. Of the 1441 rooms within the palace, 40 are open to the public. The Imperial Tour takes you into 26 of these, and in the last room those on a Grand Tour show their tickets again and continue through the remaining rooms. Note that the Grosse Galerie (Great Gallery), part of both tours, is being restored until late 2012. Despite the rather steep prices, both tours are well worth doing for an insight into the people and the opulence of the baroque age. Because of the popularity of the palace, tickets are stamped with a departure time, and there may be a time lag before you’re allowed to set off in summer, so buy your ticket straight away and explore the gardens while you wait. The palace tour is one of the few Viennese tourist attractions that remembers not all visitors speak German. Your ticket entitles you to a free — and excellent — audio guide, which has a choice of languages including English. There is some written information in the rooms (in German and English) but you need the audio guides to benefit from the experience. The narrators tell you what you're looking at, they put everything in historical context, and they throw in little anecdotes and bonus material, like an original voice recording of Emperor Franz Joseph.

    History: The land around Schönbrunn Palace had been in the possession of the Habsburgs since 1569, when the wife of Emperor Ferdinand II. had a summer residence built there in 1642. The Schönbrunn palace and garden complex built here from 1696, after the Turkish occupation, was redesigned from the ground up by Maria Theresia after 1743. By the early 1700's Emperor Charles VI starting using the property as a Summer hunting lodge since the grounds were heavily wooded 4 miles from central Vienna, but still no Palace... It wasn't until Emperor Charles VI gifted the residence to his daughter Maria Theresa in the mid 1700's that the Estate started to blossom. Maria Theresa decided to finish the grounds as a true Palace and added many fascinating features like a huge garden, the mighty Neptune Fountain, a theater, a festive zoo, beautiful galleries, and opulent fixtures from Chinese lacquer panels and murals, to colorful wall papers. When Maria Theresa died in 1780, Schönbrunn Palace again fell to the wayside of the uniterested Royal family and was even occupied by French Emperor Napoleon twice in 1805 and 1809. The Palace finally began to start hitting its potential in 1853 when Emperor Franz Joseph, who was born in the Palace in 23 years earlier, married Elizabeth of Bavaria. Elizabeth also known as Sissi had a very keen eye for design and the motivation to spruce Schönbrunn Palace up better than ever. Elizabeth quickly come to beloved by the people of Austria for her individual sense of freedom and how beautiful she was. In a moment of perfect timing during Sissi's revamping of Schönbrunn Palace, Austria and Hungary joined as one empire in 1867 giving her an unlimited budget for remodeling any way she wanted. During the remodeling the Hapsburg's built ornate carriages as well as a series of stately Imperial Apartments. Schönbrunn Palace even got its current yellow look thanks to a new coat of paint. Although it may seem that the gold paint was meant to be bold, it was actually used because it was the cheapest color of paint available. It turns out that even empresses with unlimited budgets can still care about making thrifty decisions. Sissi later ruled Austria after her husband died and went on to become the country's longest ruling royal ever. Toward the end of her life Sissi spent more time at the Palace of Gödöllő in Hungary, but she definitely left her mark on Schönbrunn Palace and the people of Austria. She died at the age of 60 in 1898 which was a long life back then. For most of the year, the Habsburgs resided in the countless number of chambers that a large imperial family needed - in addition to the formal state rooms. Emperor Franz Joseph, who later married the enchanting Queen Elizabeth, Sisi and reigned from 1848 to 1916, was born here in 1830. In the possession of the Habsburg dynasty since Maximilian II, the palace passed to the ownership of the Republic of Austria at the end of the monarchy in 1918. Although Austria is now a republic, Schönbrunn has remained a place of political encounter at the highest level.

    Since the height of the Hapsburg Dynasty, Schönbrunn has survived many political changes and even a WWII bomb that crashed through 3 floors but failed to explode. Today the giant 1,441 room palace has 40 rooms available to visit with a paid guided tour and pristine grounds that can be seen for free. Inside the rooms had been renovated to look like Maria Theresa and Sissi had just spruced them up yesterday.

    In 1992 the Schloss Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H. was founded and entrusted with the administration of the palace as a modern, limited-liability company. The company is solely owned by the Republic of Austria. Preservation and restoration have to be financed by the company from its own resources without recourse to state subsidies.

    Schönbrunn Palace is one of Europe's most impressive Baroque palace complexes. Today, the palace is part of UNESCO’s cultural heritage due to its historic importance, its unique grounds and its splendid furnishings.

    The tour: The tour actually starts at the west wing of the palace in the rooms of the aforementioned Emperor and his wife Elisabeth (the famous "Sissi"). The rooms in the west wing are Iess elaborately decorated and were used for domestic purposes by members of the imperial family. By contrast the living rooms and offices used by Emperor Franz Joseph are simple and very unpretentious. Take a note of the relatively (but only relatively) spartan decor so you can compare it to the rooms used by earlier generations of Hapsburgs. Franz Joseph clearly led a disciplined life. His bed (the one he died on) is totally nondescript, as is his lavatory. Yes, we get to see the place where even the Emperor had to be alone.

    Offer of itinerary:

    Proceed up the Blue Staircase--named for its color scheme--to the "Bel Étage," where the most important state and private rooms in the palace are located. At the top of the stairs, turn right into the Fishbone Room for a view of one of the inner courtyards, then turn right for a view into the relatively spartan room of the Emperor Franz Joseph's aide-de-camp (Adjutants Room). From there turn left into the Guard's Room, then right into the Billiard Room, which is decorated with paintings about the Hapsburg family history. Go straight to the Walnut Room, where the Emperor held audiences. Turn left into Franz Joseph's Study, where the Emperor spent most of his time working on State papers. Straight ahead is Franz Joseph's bedroom, where he died in 1916. On the wall is a portrait of him on his death bed. Go straight to the Western Terrace Cabinet, with its portraits of the daughters of Empress Maria Theresa and then left into the Stairs Cabinet--the study of Franz Joseph's wife, the Empress Elisabeth, better-known as "Sissi." Next up is Sissi's dressing room, and beyond that Elisabeth and Franz Joseph's bedroom, which they used at the beginning of their married life. Beyond this is Sissi's neo-Rococo Salon. The Marie Antoinette Room was used as the family dining room. Further along are the Children's Room, named for all the portraits it has of Maria Theresa's children, and the Breakfast Cabinet.

    Backtrack into the Children's Room and turn left into the Yellow Salon, which is notable for the drawings of children on the walls. Go straight into the Balcony Room, which features more portraits of Maria Theresa's children, and from here into the Mirror Room, where Mozart gave a recital as a boy. Move on into the Great Rosa Room, and from there turn to your upper right to the Second Small Rosa Room, and then straight into the First Small Rosa Room. This suite is named after Joseph Rosa, whose landscapes hang in all three rooms. Turn right into the Lantern Room, where the palace lantern carriers gathered.

    Move on straight ahead into the Great Gallery, a vast Rococo space used for balls and formal banquets. Turn right into the Small Gallery, which was used for family functions. To the right is the Round Chinese Cabinet and to the left the Oval Chinese Cabinet. These were conference and card rooms. Backtrack into the Small Gallery and Great Gallery and turn right into the Carousel Room, an audience room named after the subject of one of its paintings. Go straight into the Hall of Ceremonies, which is decorated with huge paintings. To the right is the Equestrian Room, named after all its pictures of horses. Turn left into the Blue Chinese Salon, where the last Hapsburg Emperor, Karl I - now a candidate for Catholic sainthood called Blessed Karl - renounced his throne at the end of World War I.

    Walk straight to the Vieux-Laque Room, which Maria Theresa decorated in honor of her husband Francis Stephen I after his death. Next to this is the Napoleon Room. It was occupied in 1805 and 1809 by Napoleon I. When Napoleon I abdicated the second time in 1815, his young son Napoleon Francis Charles Joseph was named Napoleon II, but he was little more that a toddler at the time and was stripped of his title. As his mother was an Austrian princess, he was sent to live at Schönbrunn, and was referred to as Franz, Duke of Reichstadt. He was kept a virtual prisoner in the palace and died in this room at the age of 21. His pet lark, which he claimed was his only friend, is preserved here under glass. Continue on straight into the Porcelain Room, a study and game room with faux porcelain walls, and to the left into the Millions Room, named for its expensive paneling. Off to the right is the Miniatures Cabinet, named for the type of artwork displayed therein. If you go straight you'll see the tapestry-filled Gobelin Room and beyond that, the neo-Rococo study room of Franz Joseph's mother, the Archduchess Sophie. The Red Salon is filled with Hapsburg portraits, while the Eastern Terrace or Flower Cabinet has--obviously enough--designs of flowers all over its walls. Turn left into the Rich Room. This was the bedroom of Franz Joseph's parents, Archduke Francis Charles and Archduchess Sophie. Next up is Francis Charles' portrait-filled Study and Salon. To the left of the Study is the Hunting Room, named for the the artwork it displays depicting hunting scenes. Exit and go down the stairs to see the ground floor Palace Chapel, which was completed under the aegis of Maria Theresa. On the ground floor are laso the Bergl rooms - open only to groups (special fee) or by advance appointment.

    Finish by exploring the extensive palace grounds and secondary buildings, including the Orangery, Children's Museum, Coach Museum, Zoo, Theater, maze, labyrinth, swimming pool, Neptune Fountain, Palm House, Gloriette pavilion, Obelisk Cascade, faux Roman Ruins, Butterfly House and Privy Garden.

    The Palace rooms:

    Enter the building via the Blue Staircase in the Western wing of Schönbrunn.The Blue Staircase used to be the dining hall in Joseph I's hunting lodge and was made into a ceremonial stairway when the lodge was converted into an imperial and family residence fo Maria Theresa by Nikolaus Pacassi in 1745. The ceiling fresco, painted by the Italian artist Sebastiano Ricci in 1701-2, was not affected by the conversion, and is a glorification of the conversion to the throne, Joseph, depicted as a hero of war and man of virtue who finally receives the victor's crown of laurels before the throne of eternity:

    Fishbone Room: When you reach the first floor go to your right, into the so-called “Fishbone” room. Through the window you look into the Grand Imperial Courtyard, which is now part of the Children’s Museum, in which visitors can find out a great deal about everyday life in the Imperial Court and can also try out a few things.

    Adjutants Room (Aide-de-Camp's Room): During the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph (and possibly earlier) an Aide-de-Camp's Room (adjutants room) was installed immediately before the monarch's apartments on the piano nobile of the palace. Its appearance is documented in a photograph dating from around 1910.

    Guard Room: Emperor Franz Joseph’s guards were posted in this room, to protect the entrance to his private apartments. To your right you can see a ceramic stove, which, like all the others in Schönbrunn, were originally heated with wood via a heating duct running behind the rooms, so as not to disturb the imperial family and to prevent dirt. From the 19th century on, a hot-air heating system was installed, which has been out of commission since 1992.

    Billiard Room:  The Billiard Room is the first in the suite of rooms comprising the audience rooms and private apartments of Franz Joseph. These rooms still have the original decoration and furnishings, most of which date from the second half of the 19th century. The furniture, accessories and mementoes give an idea of the monarch's world, his everyday life at the palace in both its professional and domestic aspects. Several times a week Emperor Franz Joseph received the members of his government and high-ranking military staff. While the ministers, generals and other officers waited here they were permitted to pass the time playing at this Biedermeier billiard table. The two large paintings are connected with the Order of Maria Theresa. The one in the middle depicts the ceremony at which this order was invested for the first time, in 1758. The two paintings flanking it record the celebrations held to mark the centenary of the order's foundation:

    Walnut Room: The name of this room derives from the fine walnut panelling of the walls. The gilt decoration and console tables are typical of the Rococo style – ornamental Rococo combinations made of rock, shell, plant forms or artificial forms – all adding to the astounding décor. The chandelier has 48 arms, and the furniture boasts Rococo. It was in this room that anyone living in the Monarchy could meet with the Emperor Franz Joseph. In this room Franz Joseph gave audiences to his generals, ministers and court officials. On Mondays and Thursdays any of the subjects of his empire could request an audience with the emperor. From these audiences Franz Joseph developed an astounding memory for names and faces retained well into his old age. Here you can see Franz Joseph's writing-desk with a number of items belonging to the emperor displayed on it:

    Study and salon of Franz Karl (39 and 38):

    The study room together with the adjoining salon were last occupied by Archduke Franz Karl, the father of Emperor Franz Joseph. After the death of the archduke in 1878 the rooms were refurbished and the decoration and furniture have remained largely unchanged to this day. The paintings that hang in the former study room (by Martin van Meytens and his studio) show Emperor Franz Stephan, Maria Theresa and eleven of their chilkdren on the terrace at Schönbrunn (two children were born later and three had died previously):

    Western Terrace Cabinet: The Western Terrace Cabinet leads into the apartments of Empress Elisabeth. It contains a portrait by the French artist Malers Pierre Benevault des Mares: Theresa's youngest daughters, Johanna Gabriela and Maria Josepha:

    Stairs Cabinet: The Stairs Cabinet served Elisabeth as a study. Here she wrote numerous letters and composed her diaries as well as her poems. Until the end of the monarchy there was a spiral staircase in this room which had been installed for the empress in 1863 and led down into her private apartments on the ground floor. These apartments were not furnished according to court guidelines but to the empress's personal taste. They had violet silk wall-hangings and also contained many personal items of furniture belonging to the empress. This apartment also had direct access to the gardens, enabling Elisabeth to leave and re-enter the building at any time without being observed by door-keepers, guards or other palace staff.

    Elisabeth's (Sissi) Dressing Room: Elisabeth's daily routine was dominated by a strict regime of beauty care, exercise and sport which she followed to preserve her appearance. Caring for her magnificent head of hair took several hours. Her hairdresser, Franziska Feifalik, became one of the empress's closest confidantes and sometimes even took Elisabeth's place in public, for example on official occasions where she would only be seen from afar:

    Imperial Bedroom: This room was the marital bedroom of the emperor and empress. In 1854, the year of their marriage, the room was hung with blue and white silk and furnished with heavy palisander furniture. The bedroom was only used during the first years of their marriage. From the very beginning, Elisabeth rejected the oppressive formality of court life. From the 1870s onwards she began to lead an independent life of her own, travelling extensively. Franz Joseph grew increasingly lonely in her absence, yet he continued to worship her right up to her tragic death. She was assassinated in Geneva by an Italian anarchist in 1898:

    Empress' Sissi Salon: The clock in front of the mirror on the window side of the room displays a unique feature: it has a reversed face at the back so that the time could be told from a brief glance in the mirror. The paintings in this room are of particular interest. The three portraits of Empress Elisabeth are impressive testimony to her beauty. In the oil painting by Skallinsky the empress is wearing a ruby parure, while the painting by Schrotzberg shows her with a blue ribbon. The anonymous lithograph shows off the empress's slender waist. The 18th-century pastel portraits in this room show some of Maria Theresa's children. The portrait of Marie Antoinette in a fashionable hunting costume is by Joseph Kranzinger:

    Marie Antoinette Room: During Elisabeth's time this room served as a dining room. The table is laid for a family dinner with Viennese porcelain, Viennese court silverware made by the company of Mayerhofer & Klinkosch as well as prism-cut lead crystal glasses made by Lobmeyr & Co. When the imperial family dined here alone the occasion was less formal than at court dinners which were ruled by the strictest court etiquette. The emperor himself determined the seating plan and conversation was permitted across the table, whereas at court dinners one could only converse with one's immediate neighbour in an undertone. On official occasions French dishes were served, while at family dinners Viennese cuisine and simpler dishes were preferred. These included Wiener schnitzel, beef goulash, beef with onions, steamed dumplings or 'Kaiserschmarren' (meaning literally 'the emperor's nonsense', a sweet shredded omelette made with raisins and served with fruit compote). The flowers for the table decorations were supplied by the court garden administration at Schönbrunn. Besides azaleas and hyacinths, the most precious arrangements were made of orchids. In 1900 the palace nursery garden contained 25,000 orchids of 1,500 different kinds constituting the largest collection in Europe at that time. The painting in the middle shows Emperor Franz Joseph at the age of 20. The room is named after a tapestry which formerly hung here showing Marie Antoinette and her children. It was a gift from Napoleon III to Emperor Franz Joseph and is today in the private ownership of the Habsburg family:

    Children's Room: In the right hand side of the room is a portrait of Maria Theresa in mourning. She was born in 1717, the daughter of Emperor Charles VI. She fell in love with Franz Stephan of Lorraine at while she was still very young. The couple married when she was nineteen. She bore him sixteen children, eleven daughters and five sons. The room is hung with several portraits of Maria Theresa's daughters. The rooms her children actually occupied lie on the ground floor or on the upper floors of the palace. The door on the left opens onto the bathroom installed in 1917 for Zita of Bourbon Parma, the last empress of Austria:

    Yellow Salon: The Yellow Salon marks the start of the apartments which overlook the gardens of the palace. This room was once the bedroom of Emperor Francis Stephen and Maria Theresa in the early years of their marriage until 1747. Later it was occupied by the Emperor´s sister, Charlotte of Lorraine, and it is mentioned as having been used by Emperor Franz I as his study room. The room is also remarkable for the pastel portraits with realistic depictions of children from the bourgeois classes, which form a complete contrast to the typical court portraits of Maria Theresa's children which can be viewed in the next room (the Balcony Room):

    Balcony Room: The paintings in the Balcony Room were made by the court painter Martin van Meytens and show the Maria Theresa's children. Among them is Maria Elisabeth, who was considered to be Maria Theresa's most beautiful daughter and thus a splendid match. However, she got smallpox and while she eventually recovered, her face was so disfigured by scarring that there was no hope of finding her a husband. The only alternative for the archduchess was to enter a convent. This was not the grim fate it sounds; the imperial archduchesses resided as abbesses of the convent they had entered in magnificent apartments as befitted their rank, and could pursue their own interests unhindered.

    Mirror Room: With its magnificent white and gold Rococo decoration and the crystal mirrors that give this room its name, the Mirrors Rooms is a typical example of a state room from the era of Maria Theresa. The mirrors are positioned so that they reflect one another, creating the illusion of a corridor that blurs the actual dimensions of the room. It was either this room or the adjoining larger Rosa Room that was the setting for the first concert given by the six-year-old Mozart in front of Empress Maria Theresa. After his performance - according to his proud father - "Wolferl leapt onto Her Majesty's lap, threw his arms around her neck and planted kisses on her face."...:

    Rosa Rooms: The following three rooms are named after the artist Joseph Rosa who created the landscape paintings they contain. The first painting on the left shows an idealised view of a ruin in the Swiss Aargau: the Habichtsburg (Hawk's Castle), a name that would later coalesce into 'Habsburg'. The castle is the hereditary seat of the dynasty. The largest of the Rosa Rooms also contains a portrait of Empress Franz I Stephan. It is a full-length portrait of the Emperor standing at a table surrounded by various objects and collector's items that reflect his interest in the arts, history and the natural sciences. The portrait, which has been housed in the storerooms of the Kunsthistorisches Museum for many decades, was restored in Japan in 2006 and first put on public display for the "Maria Theresa and Schloss Schönbrunn" exhibition:

    Lantern Room: Before electric lighting was installed in the palace the lantern-bearers used to wait in this room. Their task was to light the passage of the imperial family or members of the court household after dark. The room is also remarkable for the marble door panelling from the time of Joseph I.

    Great Gallery: Measuring over 40 metres by 10 metres the Great Gallery provided the ideal setting for court functions such as balls, receptions and banquets. The tall windows and the crystal mirrors facing them on the opposite wall together with the white and gold stucco decoration and the ceiling frescoes combine to form a total work of art resulting in one of the most magnificent Rococo interiors in existence. The central panel of the ceiling frescos by the Italian artist Gregorio Guglielmi shows the prospering of the monarchy under the rule of Maria Theresa. Enthroned at its centre are Franz Stephan and Maria Theresa surrounded by personifications of monarchical virtues. Ranged around this central group are allegories of the Habsburg Crown Lands, each with its riches and resources. Since the foundation of the Austrian republic the room has been used for concerts and official receptions. In 1961 the legendary encounter between the American president John F. Kennedy and the Russian head of state Nikita Khrushchev took place in this room:

    Small Gallery: The Small Gallery, which was built at the same time as the Great Gallery, was used for smaller family celebrations during the reign of Maria Theresa. In order to give an authentic impression of the room, the wall chandeliers have been fitted with special light bulbs which imitate the effect of candlelight and animate the shimmering surfaces:

    Chinese Cabinets: To either side of the Small Gallery are the two Chinese Cabinets; the Oval Cabinet on the left and the Round Cabinet on the right. The fashion for art from China and Japan had an immense influence on the decoration and furnishing of royal residences in the 18th century of which the two Chinese Cabinets are an impressive example. Set into the white-painted wooden panelling are lacquer panels of varying shapes and sizes. The gilt frames containing the panels incorporate little consoles which support pieces of blue and white porcelain. The rooms are also remarkable for their parquet flooring with its intricate patterns and their chandeliers. The two rooms were used by Maria Theresa for conferences with her ministers – the Round Cabinet was where she held secret state conferences with her chancellor, Kaunitz – and for playing cards:

    Carousel Room: TThis room was a waiting room for visitors of Maria Theresa. It is named for the painting hanging to the left of the mirror of a ladies carousel (carriage parade) given by Maria Theresa in 1743 in the Imperial Riding School to mark the withdrawal of the French and Bavarians from Bohemia.

    Hall of Ceremonies: The Hall of Ceremonies served principally as the antechamber to Emperor Francis Stephen´s apartments. Here the imperial family gathered before entering the oratories of the palace and it was also used for large celebrations such as christenings, name-days and birthdays, as well as for the court banquets. The hall is remarkable for its monumental paintings which were commissioned by Maria Theresa. The five paintings depict a family event of political and historical significance: the marriage of Joseph, the heir to the throne, to Isabella of Parma, a princess of the royal French Bourbon dynasty, in 1760. This marriage was also a calculated political move on Maria Theresa's part, intended to bring France onto Austria's side. The largest painting in the series depicts the entry of the princess from the Belvedere Palace to the Hofburg. The other paintings show the marriage ceremony in the Augustinian Church, the wedding banquet in the Knights' Hall of the Hofburg and the nuptial dinner and serenata in the ballroom. The paintings display a remarkable wealth of detail in their depiction of the buildings, the people, their clothing and even the tableware. The cycle includes what is probably the most famous portrait of Empress Maria Theresa as the 'First Lady of Europe' :

    ******************** End of the Imperial Tour ********************

    For rooms included also in the Grand Tour: see sub-ordinate Tip.