While her home as Queen of France, Versailles, is commonly thought of as the grandest of all European palaces, no one can suggest that Marie Antoinette's childhood residence was anything but amazing. The Schonbrunn Palace, where she lived until 1770, when she moved to France to marry the Dauphin, is one of the finest Baroque masterpieces in the world. I had the good fortune of touring this palatial estate while vacationing in Wien in 2005. I love love Vienna. It is one of my very favorite cities. It's one that I will definitely be returning to soon. The Hapsburg dynasty is fascinating.
The Schonbrunn palace, placed on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO World Heritage Committtee in 1996, began as a medieval homestead. By the reign of Maria Theresa, Marie Antoniette's mother, the palace had evolved into an imperial residence and what it may have lacked in size in comparison to Versailles, it made up for in style and luxury.
As a child, Maria Antonia (her Austrian name) enjoyed an in palace theater whereas her future Bourbon inlaws would not share the same pleasure until the Versailles had its own Opera in 1770, the very year the Austrian Arch Duchess moved in! The Theater at Schonbrunn was built in 1745 in the form of an Italian "loge theatre".
The architect was Nikolaus Pacassi. Later, but still before Versailles even had a theater, the Hapsburg's rebuilt the theater in 1766 and 1777; the size remained the same but it was reconstructed to include a Roccoco style and balcony theater by Hetzendorf. When she was not enjoying the arts inside the Schonbrunn's theater, young Maria Antonia had its superb gardens and other beautiful rooms in the palace to frolick about.
The Marie Antoinette Room which served as the family dining room.
Take a virtual tour of the Marie Antoinette room here.
The Great Gallery
Considered the heart of the Palace. The gallery was used for ceremonial events, balls, receptions and banquets.
The ceiling fresco of the Great Gallery by Gregorio Gugliemi
Take the virtual tour of the Great Gallery here.
Hall of Ceremonies
This room is characterized by the monumental paintings commissioned by Maria Theresa.
Take the virtual tour of the Hall of Ceremonies here.
The Millions Room
This room got its name from the wooden paneling which is made of costly exotic rosewood which is known as feketin. The entire decor was originally made for the Belvedere palace, but moved to the Schonbrunn in 1766.
Take the virtual tour of the Millions Room here.
The Porcelain Room
This room was used by Maria Theresa as a games room and study. The contributing artists for the work in this room are portrayed in the medallions.
Take a virtual tour of the Porcelain room here.
The Small Gallery
This gallery was used for the smaller family festivities in Maria Theresa's time. The elaborate white and gold neo-Rococco stucco decor is from 1870 when the gallery was renovated.
Take the virtual tour of the small gallery here.
The Vieux Laque room
This was probably my favorite room. It was made into a memorial room by Maria Theresa for her husband Francis Stephen I after his death in 1765.
Take the virtual tour of the Vieux Laque room here.
Located on the garden side of the estate, the salon is noted for its numerous pastel drawings of bourgeois children by the Genevan artist Liotard.
The Coach House
Museum of the imperial family's state coaches