We ventured out of the main city center today to visit Schönbrunn Palace, the summer home of the Habsburgs built in the early 1700s and modeled after Versailles. The massive palace includes expansive grounds with immaculately manicured gardens.
After a quick stroll through the Christmas market (yes, there’s a market here as well!), we made our way inside. Our guide, a man named Irene, was well educated on all things Habsburg and the Viennese dynasty. I couldn’t possibly do this place justice; it's so rich in historical significance for this country. Instead, I’ll touch on a few highlights that we learned. (Photography was prohibited, but Karen and I snuck a few non-flash pics with our phone!)
Empress Maria Theresa had 16 children, with 11 of them surviving; her youngest daughter was Marie Antoinette. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was said to have performed at the young age of 5 in the Mirror Hall for Maria Theresa.
The Great Gallery was used for significant political and societal ceremonies, as recently as the 1960s. One of the most notable events was the meeting of President Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev during the Vienna Summit in 1961. The two chandeliers in the Great Gallery were carved out of wood and then gilded in 18-carat gold.
Most of us braved the chilly weather to walk around the gardens, while a few of us hit the Christmas markets for last-minute shopping and a mug of Apfelwein (can you guess which one I chose?).
We then headed back to the hotel and joined the shuttle to our home on the Danube for the next six nights – the Amadeus Cara. After a welcome toast, we had a lovely dinner onboard. Now we rest, for tomorrow is full of adventures in Emmersdorf! Guten Nacht!