26 February 2012

Vienna, Austria - Day 5

With so much to see in Vienna alone, we extended our stay by another 3 days.  With that in mind today we went further afield to explore the imperial family's summer residence.

Taking a 10 minute train ride we arrived at  Schoenbrunn Palace.  Built between 1744-9 on the request of Empress Maria Theresa, Schoenbrunn is all about Rococo decorations.  The main ballroom, known as the Great Gallery, is 40m long and 10m wide encased in white walls, gold gilding and three large ceiling frescoes depicting various political, military and economic scenery of the times.  Whilst every room was breathtaking the one that peaked my interest was the Porcelain Room, which consisted of 213 blue Chinese ink drawings with Chinese scenery.  The drawings were hung from floor to ceiling with garlands of flowers panelling in between to balance this small room.

Schoenbrunn Palace

Porcelain Room
Image courtesy of www.schoenbrunn.at
Great Gallery
Image courtesy of www.schoenbrunn.at
The Carriage Museum, housing the imperial court's vehicular collection, was also at Schoenbrunn. It consisted of an  impressive collection of about 60 carriages (one-tenth of the total 600 that was once in imperial ownership) dating back to the 17th century.  The highlight was the ornate yet exquisite Baroque imperial carriage in gold gilding and decorated with allegorical panels.

Two-seater ceremonial state carriage (c1790).
This carriage was built for Napoleon's son (c1811).  Napoleon was
married to an Austrian Archduchess, hence the Austrian connection.
The Prince's State Carriage used for all important state and
family celebrations.  It was drawn by 6 horses (c1735/40).
Returning to the city centre we lunched on coffee and cake at Cafe Schwarzenberg. Here John indulged on baked cheesecake with a mochaccino, Trinity had a raspberry covered vanilla cream sponge cake with hot chocolate and I devoured a type of soft meringue sponge cake with an espresso mixed with cherry schnapps and milk.

My meringue/sponge cake.  Yum.
We had two hours left and we have returned to the Hofburg Complex to view their famous Collection of Arms.  A formidable collection of suits of armor, swords, saddles and firearms, I dare say it was John's highlight of the trip so far.  I will have to do a separate photoblog on this to share more of the beautiful collection.

Finishing the day with sirloin steak (again) and bernaise sauce, accompanied with a glass of red, we let this very successful day sink in and take a moment to plan tomorrow.  If the weather holds we may be hitting the pavement to view several of Vienna's famous buildings.

Waiting for the train to go to Schoenbrunn Palace.
Day's end tram ride back to the hotel.