On our second day in Vienna, we boarded a bus for Schönbrunn (meaning "beautiful spring"), the summer palace for Maria Theresa. In 1569, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II purchased a large floodplain of the Wien river and had erected a mansion called Katterburg. The emperor ordered the area to be fenced and put game there such as pheasants, ducks, deer and boar, in order for it to serve as the court's recreational hunting ground and it was used in this way for the next century. The Schönbrunn Palace in its present form was built and remodelled during the 1740–50s during the reign of empress Maria Theresa who received the estate as a wedding gift. Franz I commissioned the redecoration of the palace exterior in the neoclassical style as it appears today. Maria Theresa was an Austrian archduchess, and Holy Roman Empress of the Habsburg Dynasty from 1740 to 1780. She was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. In 1736 Maria Theresa and her beloved Duke Francis Stephen of Lorraine, France, were wed. Over the course of her marriage, Maria Theresa would give birth to a sizable brood. Over the course of 20 years, she gave birth to 16 children consisting of 5 sons and 11 daughters, including the future queen of France, Marie Antoinette. She delivered her last child, Maximilian Francis, during the Seven Years' War, at age 39. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in Austria. Since the mid-1950s it has been a major tourist attraction. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.
Since 1992 the palace and gardens have been owned and administered by the Republic of Austria. The company assigned its management conducts preservation and restoration of all palace properties without state subsidies. UNESCO catalogued Schönbrunn Palace on the World Heritage List in 1996, together with its gardens, as a remarkable Baroque ensemble and example of synthesis of the arts.
It was an awesome tour and just to think that someone called this home( or one of their homes!!). The only downers were there was no time to shop in the palace shop and I spotted many interesting items there and no pics were allowed inside the palace.
We rushed back to our boat for a 12:30 departure time to Bratislava, Slovakia. I was not even aware that we had a stop here but it was a beautiful city, smaller then most we have been it but with a very rich and sad history. The country is only 25 years her.. old, gaining its independence from Czechoslovakia in 1993. During WW II, Slovakia was a client state of Nazi Germany and there was a large Jewish community here. 75,000 Jews out of 80,000 Jews there were taken to Nazi death camps. In April 1945, the Soviet forces liberated Slovakia but as our tour guide said they forgot to leave. Thus Slovakia was under Russian rule for the next 48 years. During this time, in Bratislava, the capitol, a beautiful suspension bridge was build and many highways, one of which obliterated the Jewish community and the Synagogue. Once again the Jewish people had to relocate. It has a population of about 5 million people today. Some souvenir shopping ended our time in Bratislava.
Returning to the ship for dinner, entertainment by 2 men from the Budapest Philharmonic playing some unusual instruments, and enjoying our friends ended this beautiful day. Let me say that we have been blessed with wonderful weather. No rain and temps very similar to South Carolina.