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  • History
    Updated at Dec 29,2014

    Fishermen’s Bastion (Halászbástya):

    The Fishermen's Bastion (Halászbástya) is open daily 24 hours. Admission to the upper-level lookout terrace: adult: 600 HUF, 10 % discount with Budapest Card, students between 6-14, pensioner from EU countries: 300 HUF, free for children under 6 years.

    The Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest appears like a magical castle up on the Buda hill built from white stones with little towers just like in a fairy tail. Built behind the Matthias Church between 1895 and 1902, Origin of the Bastion’s name: some say a fish market was nearby in the Middle Ages, according to others the Guild of Fishermen defended this part of the wall. As part of the renovations, the Fishermen’s Bastion was added in 1905. This is the large white tower and lookout terrace complex you see hanging over the side of Castle Hill beneath the Mátyás Church.  It was built between 1890-1905. The story is that different trades were responsible for defending different parts of the castle walls and that this section of the defenses was raised by the fishermen’s guild. In fact, the structure is a late 19th century fantasy built to add class to the area. That this is an invention does not detract at all from the attractiveness of the structure, nor from the impressive views of the river and Pest on the opposite side. In the north courtyard of the bastion stand two statues of the monks Julianus and Gellért (Károly Antal, 1937), while in the south courtyard stands a bronze equestrian statue of St Stephen (Szent István), the first King of Hungary (A. Stróbl, 1906). He was declared a saint for his efforts in bringing Christianity to Hungary. He carries the apostolic cross with two crossbars – a symbol granted him by the Pope. The plinth includes four lions and the reliefs on the sides depict scenes from Stephen's life.

    Its seven towers, colonnades and embrasures were designed in Neo-Romanesque style by Frigyes Schulek. Despite its name it's a look-out terrace. It has seven turrets one for each of the Hungarian tribes. The design was inspired by the Far East. "Kitchs but beautiful" according to the writer Szerb Antal. From its top you get one of the city''s best panoramic views. In tourist season there is an admission charge of about $1 to climb on the bastion. In the daytime around the year, the bastion is the place most overcrowded by tourists in the Castle Hill, mainly brought in here by buses:

    From here you can take the best pictures overlooking Budapest, well rather Pest only, you can see all great landmarks such as the Basilica, the Andrássy Út or the Heroes’ Square all together in one picture from above. This is where many tourists come for their great picture of Budapest showing all the beauty of the city including the Margaret Island and the Danube and many of the wonderful bridges crossing it:

    In the restaurant of the Bastion balcony:

    Best times to visit the Fisherman’s bastion is obviously a sunny, clear day to take a great shot over the city but also to see the architecture.

  • History | Hungary
    Updated at Jan 27,2015

    Memento Park, Budapest 22nd district (Southern Buda) corner of Balatoni ut and Szabadkai utca. This is is a sculpture park dedicated to the large and impressive sculptures erected in the time when Hungary was a Communist country. It is a historical theme park with it’s different sights and sections: the Statue Park, photo exhibition and film showing. Situated on the edge of the city, it does require some effort and time to get to the park.

    Weather: It can get very cold if visiting in the autumn-winter months so wrap up well. You can find shelter in the park's museum BUT NOT in the park itself.

    Public transport: Public Bus Transport to Memento Park from “Kelenfold vasutallomas – Metro 4″ (see below - access to this Metro station) – with BUS No. 101 (see below) and 150 to Budateteny vasutallomas (Campona). Start time: MON - FRI  every 10 minutes, SAT - SUN every 30 minutes. The ride to Memento Park is  approx. 10-15 min. Day passes, BKK-tickets (prepaid: 350 HUF, on the bus: 450 HUF) and Budapest Cards are valid. The ride takes 40 minutes. You get the chance to see some of the places on the way where real Hungarians live, not just the tourist joints.

    The M4 is a brand new metro Line in Budapest opened in April 2014.
    It may seem a little chaotic until 2015 when the reconstruction works will be completed. The “Kelenfold vasutallomas" is the departure place of number 150 bus that takes you to Memento Park. The number 101 bus also departes from here to Memento Park but its service is only
    available in the weekdays and after 13.00. Please Take a bus seat in the buses -  preferably on the right hand side.

    To access Kelenfold vasutallomas take one of the following metro stations: From Pest-side: - Keleti palyaudvar (Keleti Railway Station, Metro No.2), - Rakoczi ter (the grand boulevard, tram No.4 and 6.), - Kalvin ter (National Museum, tram No.47 and 49, Metro No.3), - Fovam ter (the Grand Market Hall, tram No.2). From Buda-side: - Gellert ter (Gellert Bath, tram No.18, 19, 41), - Moricz Zsigmond ter (tram No.61 from Szell Kalman ter), - Ujbuda Kozpont (Allee Shopping Center).

    Direct Bus Transfer from Deak Ferenc ter: in the centre of Budapest (metro station: Deak Ferenc ter on the lines No 1, No 2, No 3). Bus departs from the stop bearing a “Memento Park” timetable, every day, (but 1st NOV - 31st MAR only SAT-SUN-MON, and every day 26th DEC - 6th JAN) at 11.00 (return at 13.00).

    Opening hours: Every day from 10.00. till dusk. Prices: Adults: 1.500 HUF,
    Students with ISIC CARD: 1.000 HUF. Budapest Card (-20%), Hungary Card (-33%).

    Note: No context around every statue or exhibit. There's nothing else in the area - no restaurants, no bars, no public areas. Along ride to the park. It is a good idea to take the Deak Ferenc Ter direct bus which leaves at 11.00 every day - if you have 1/2/3-day public transport pass.

    Memento Park is an open air museum dedicated to 42 monumental statues from the Communist period (1949–1989) that were removed from Budapest after the fall of Communism . There are statues of Lenin, Marx, and Engels, as well as several Hungarian Communist leaders. The park was designed by Hungarian architect Ákos Eleőd, who won the competition announced by the Budapest General Assembly (Fővárosi Közgyűlés) in 1991. The project's architect said on this park theme:  "This park is about dictatorship. but at the same time, this park is about democracy. After all, only democracy is able to give the opportunity to let us think freely about dictatorship". On June 29, the park celebrated a grand opening as a public outdoor museum. Above all - the park demonstrates the folly of an extreme ideology.

    The second part of this park  Witness Square which holds a replica of Stalin's Boots which became a symbol of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 after the statue of Stalin was pulled down from its pedestal in 1956.  Year 2006 marked a new chapter in the history of Memento Park. A life-sized copy of the tribune of the Stalin Monument in Budapest was built in the Statue Park with the broken bronze shoes on top of the pedestal. This is not an accurate copy of the original but only an artistic recreation by Ákos Eleőd. In 2007 a new exhibition hall and a small movie theater were opened in the Witness Square of Memento Park. The photo exhibition called “Stalin’s Boots” in the exhibition hall takes the viewer through the history of the 1956 revolution, of the political changes of 1989-1990 and of Memento Park, with both English and Hungarian captions. In the barracks-theater one can see The Life of an Agent, a documentary on the methods used by the secret police, directed by Gábor Zsigmond Papp. The film is shown in Hungarian with English subtitles.

    The main entrance:

    Lenin statue by Pátzay Pál from year 1965 (bronze):

    Liberation Monument (Felszabadulási emlékmű),  Kiss István, 1971 limestone:

    The Buda Volunteers Regiment Memorial:

    The Republic of Councils Monument, Kiss István, Year 1969, bronze:

    Monument to the Martyrs of the Counter-Revolution:

    The Hungarian Fighters in the Spanish International Brigades Memorial:

    Red Army soldier statue, Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl, Year 1947, bronze:

    Stalin's Boots (all that was left after a crowd pulled the enormous statue down during the 1956 Uprising):

    Stalin's Boots in Park Memento Museum:

    While waiting in Újbuda-központ for the bus to Memento Park - you can make a short detour to the Allee shopping centre. Head north on Fehérvári út toward Október huszonharmadika u., 35 m. Turn right onto Október huszonharmadika u., 190 m. The Allee, Október huszonharmadika utca 8-10, is good for having coffee or a light meal (the Guru restaurant). A bit before the mall, you pass through the Locals Market (Vasarcsarnok), Október huszonharmadika utca, 1117 Magyarország. A brilliant place to see the locals shopping produce, and upstairs, real authentic local food and drink places, full of locals, with local prices and delicious food. The building itself is unique:  a box - shaped building with an inner pyramid. The terraced stores are hidden. Vegetables, fruit, bread, meat, dairy products, cakes are not only available in the various stores, but they can be purchased from around 100 urban farmers. The upstairs bar offer food and drink, real Hungarian dishes (fried sausage, black pudding, stuffed cabbage) , not only nicer but cheaper than in restaurants. Mainly local people do their daily, weekly shopping here. Everyone is very friendly towards foreigners but please be aware: English is not spoken:

    The bus passes through Bocskai út westward and arrives to Kosztolá nyi  Dezső tér. On the right side there is a park with the Feneketlen tó (Lake without a bed) (bottomless lake)  in the middle, which according to legend is very deep. In the wwest side of the park the famous Hemingway cafe'/restaurant.

    The bus turns south to Vincellér utca. From there it continues north-west, turns more to the south and continues west along several busy streets. When it arrives onto Harasztos út - you see on your left the Amerikai katonai temető - a cemetery of American soldiers killed in Hungary during WW2. A monument is erected in the middle of the small park memorizes their glory. There are graves in the garden but the bodies of british pilots and american soldiers were brought back home by the end of 1946. This street continues as  Brassó út. The bus continues southward alond Sasadi Utca. This street terminates at Budaörsi Way. In this bustling junction stood the statue of Captain Ostapenko  until the late eighties. Ostepenko was a Soviet Red Army soldier. The memorial is now at Memento Park:


    The whole area east to Balatoni street (Vőfély St, Kérő utca) is a typical So
    viet housing buildings made with industrial pre-fabricated panels. They were built  between 1972 - 1984. Approx. 20% of the Hungarian population still lives in concrete panel-type flats. The forced industrialization resulted in that the population moving to the cities from 1970s onwards,  and this has caused housing shortages. To solve the problem - a sort of building technology had to be used which had to be a quick and inexpensive way to build homes. In many cases, the homes kitchen furniture, complete with bathrooms and cupboards were pre-fabricated in factories, and they were installed in buildings with concrete elements. Most of the flats are only of 1.5 - 2 bedroom homes. The buildings were normally surrounded by health and educational institutions, restaurants, service centers, which have been completely transformed into other uses. The result was a huge number of low level quality flats. Most of them are occupied by low-level income people:

    More eastward is the Kelenföld vasútállomásmore Metro M4 (green) line station. A brand-new Metro station (opened in Spring 2014). With M$ line you can travel to/from Keleti railway station. Line 4 isn't connected to any other metro line. At Keleti pályaudvar, the station of line 4 isn't connected to line 2 via an underground passage, but just via the (partly open) mezzanine level. This is the departure place of number 150 bus that takes you to Memento Park. The number 101 bus also departes from here to Memento Park but its service is only available in the weekdays and after 13.00;

    We head southward to Péterhegyi út. On our right we pass through Igmándi utca,

    Őrmezei út and Bolygó utca,. WE turn eastward to Olajfa utca.
    The surroundings are more rural:

    We turn left (south) to Horogszegi határsor and ride southward along this street until its end. WE continue to the south along Tordai út.  We continue southward along the Balatoni street, pass through the Elza utcai játszótér (small park of Elza Street) 

    and arrive to Memento Park.

  • 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.