An entertainment centre for both, children and adult

Schönbrunn Castle

Former summer residence of the Emperor’s family is one of the most beautiful areas in the baroque style in Europe. It was in the ownership of the Habsburgs from 1569. Wife of the Emperor Ferdinand II had a summerhouse built in the estate in 1642, and she was the first person to call it Schönbrunn. The castle area with the park was built after the Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1696. In 1743 Maria Theresia had it rebuilt thoroughly. There is an immense number of rooms where the Habsburgs lived most of the year, together with many halls for official guests.

Here, Emperor Franz Josef was born in 1830. He married charming Sisi (Elisabeth) and ruled in 1848-1916. The monarch spent the last years of his life in this castle, and only two years after his death it was transferred under the administration of the new republic. Thanks to its historical importance, beautiful surroundings and magnificent furnishings and decorations, the castle was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

There are 1441 rooms in the castle, and the visitors can see 45 of them. The interior is furnished and decorated in the style of Rococo (mostly white surfaces with ornaments made of 14-carat gold plates), and there are also Czech crystal chandeliers and ceramic stoves.

The rooms where Emperor Franz Josef lived and worked (see the picture) are rigid and plain, but the halls for the official guests and the rooms for them are very rich in decorations and furnishings. It the Mirror Room Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had his concert when he was six and was considered a child prodigy.

In the Chinese Round Cabinet Maria Theresia organized secret conferences with the state chancellor prince of Kaunitz. In the room called Vieux-Lacque Napoleon held meetings. In the Chinese Blue Room Emperor Karl I signed his abdication (the end of the monarchy in 1918).

The Millions Room "Millionenzimmer" with rosewood panelling and precious miniatures from India and Persia is one of the most beautiful rooms in the rococo style. The Vienna congress held the meetings in the large Gallery in 1814-1815; at present, official audiences are held there at special occasions.

Zoo Schönbrunn – Zoological gardens

The zoological gardens located on the grounds of the castle Schönbrunn in Vienna is the world’s oldest zoo. For the third time it was declared the best zoo in Europe. The young panda, elephants and many other rare animals attract more than two million visitors every year.

Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine, husband of Maria Theresia, invited his noble guests to the newly established menagerie in the Schönbrunn palace park in summer 1752. At that time the oldest zoological gardens in the world were established – namely here, in Vienna.

As early as 1906 the first sensation was born in Schönbrunn. It was the first time that a captive African elephant was born – and again here, in Vienna. In 2007 another world premiere was born here: the first young panda. So far, no other European zoo has managed to naturally breed this species. It was named Fu Long. The second bear cub was born in August 2010, and the third in August 2013. This September the elephants increased in number, too.

At present, the zoo in Schönbrunn is one of the best and the most up-to-date worldwide. The enclosures for the animals are really large and they are in close contact with the nature. More than 500 animal species live there – beginning from Siberian tiger and hippopotamus up to Indian rhinoceros. One of the most admirable draws is the enormous greenhouse with rainforest, large South America pavilion and the ORANG.erie, the new home of the orang-utans. In 2010 a new nature trail was opened. Polar bears have been bred in the zoo since May 2014: the new enclosure is called “Franz Josef Land”, it covers the area of 1.700 m2, and the white shaggy creatures have enough space for their pleasures. For the first time, you can see the bears when they are diving. Every year large enclosures and pavilions are built. However, the historical charm has been preserved.

Knowledge about the world of animals may be obtained during special tours of the zoo or seminars. There is the greenhouse called the “Desert House” (Wüstenhaus) next to the zoo. There you can explore the world of plants and animals from the driest parts of the world.

Stephandom Catedral

Historical beginnings of the church date back to 1137, when a contract was made between Leopold IV, Margrave of Austria, and the bishop Reginmar of Pasau. Then, the construction of the church started. The Romanesque church was consecrated 10 years later, in 1147. It hasn’t been preserved till our days; we know only the ground plan dimensions. If we take into account the circumstances under which the church was built, it was really outsized – the intention to establish a bishop’s seat may have become evident. The church was built on the outer edge of the town – outside the town walls, and the archaeologist believed for a long time that it was the first building there, but the archaeological findings showed in 2000 that from the 8th century there was a burial place, and there must have been a church as well.

In 1230–1263 the west part of the church was extended in late Romanesque style – so-called westwerk was added. It consisted of two Pagan towers and the Giant’s gate between them. Origin of the names is not known. When building the towers, they used old Roman (i.e. pagan) masonry. Others stress similarity with Islamic minarets. Name of the gate is sometimes connected with the mammoth bone from the collection of curios of Emperor Friedrich III found during excavation works for foundations of the north tower. It should be hung over the entrance portal. Some other theories suppose that the origin of the name is in old German.

In 1304 another extension of the church started. So-called Albertine choir was added to the east part of the building, a Gothic in style three-nave hall. It got its name from the duke Albrecht II who supported the construction and under reign of which it was finished. It was consecrated by the bishop of Passau on 23 April 1340.

On 12 July 1359 Habsburg duke Rudolf IV of Austria, called Founder, laid the foundation stone for new Gothic extension of “his” church approximately in the place of the present southern tower. Rudolf’s interest in the matter was very important. By marriage with Catherine of Luxembourg he became a son-in-law of Charles IV, and competing with him was the driving force of Rudolf’s thoughts and acts. Similarly as his father-in-law raised importance of Prague, Rudolf wanted to raise importance of Vienna and to make it a dignified duke’s seat. However, there was no bishopric in Vienna, which didn’t make a good impression in this respect. The cathedral was built partially as a tool that should have enabled the objective to be met, but partially also as a competitor of the cathedral in Prague. Rudolf was not successful in everything he intended to do, but thanks to him Stephansdom rose to a higher rank of a collegiate church in 1365.

In the next century the construction works proceeded slowly, but they moved ahead anyway. On both sides of the west Romanesque construction two chapels were built, located one above the other. In 1433 the south tower was finished under the leadership of Jan z Prachatic, and new longitudinal three naves were constructed as a “pseudohall”. First, its walls were built as an outer shell around the original Romanesque building, and then it was demolished in 1430. After the timberwork of the roof was build under the leadership of Hans Puchsbaum in 1446, vaulting started.

Another politician whose name is connected with this church is Emperor Friedrich III. He continued the work of Rudolf IV: In 1450, in accordance with the original Rudolf’s concept, he laid the foundation stone for construction of the north tower, resembling the south tower, and during his second journey to Rome in 1469 he accomplished his objective - establishment of bishopric in Vienna. The cathedral rose to higher rank again – this time to an Episcopal church.

In the beginning of the 16 century only about one half of the north tower was finished, and the medieval idea of a monumental building “took a back seat”. Partially due to lack of funds the construction was suspended in 1511, and in 1578 finished the construction with a dome in Renaissance style.

The 17th century brought influence of Baroque style in the furnishings. A few altars were built there, and the most important among them is the heightened altar made in early Baroque style by Johann Jacob and Tobias Pock in 1647, dedicated to St. Stephen and depicting his stoning.

During the whole World War II, despite nearby bomb attacks, the cathedral was not seriously damaged. But on the last days of the war, between 11th and 13th April 1945, sparkles from the surrounding burning houses started fire. Damage was enormous – the whole timberwork of the burnt down, the vault above the chancel fell in, the Emperor’s balcony was destroyed, the organ and the large bell – so-called Pummerin – broke away and fell down in the tower hall. The cathedral seemed to be lost, but reconstruction started soon, and on 23 April 1952 the whole cathedral was opened.