Sunday, June 22, 2014

Where do I start!!? Oh right, at the Schonbrunn Palace! Today, we toured the most beautiful palace ever. The Schonbrunn Palace was the summer home of the Hapsburg Monarchy. Construction of the palace began in 1607 and the palace officially opened in 1699 making the it over 300 years old. It was constructed and designed with an Italian Barack form of architecture and has 1,441 rooms. The palace features a fountain of youth that is said to have powers to keep you young and beautiful forever if you drink the water. More than 1500 people lived in the palace including the royal family, maids, servants and anyone else that was needed to keep the palace in full functioning condition.


We had the privilege to take a tour of 40 rooms on the first floor of the palace today. A brief history of the royal family was presented to us on a headset as we traveled from room to room. For example, Franz Joseph married his cousin Elizabeth when she was 15. She was known as one of the most beautiful queens of her time and rarely attended family dinners in order to keep her figure. Franz Joseph passed away in his bed in 1886 and Elizabeth was killed by an Italian at age 61. Marie Antoinette, who was one of Maria Theresa's 11 daughters, was killed during the French Revolution. Carl the first was the last emperor of Austria. The last of the Hapsburg empire was Otto Von Hapsburg and he died in 2011 at age 98. Franz Stephen was married to Maria Theresa and together they had 16 children (11 daughters & 5 sons). Stephen passed away in 1716 and Maria Theresa took this death very hard. So hard that she mourned for the rest of her life. In her memoirs, she reflects on how long her marriage lasted with Franz stating they were married for "29 years, 6 months, 6 days or 10,781 days." Schonbrunn was electrified in 1901.Schonbrunn is also connected with the oldest zoo in the world, Tiergarten. The group had the chance to visit the zoo and many of them thoroughly enjoyed it. For example, Gabbi was very happy that she had a chance to see the baby Cheetahs and the baby Panda.

Personally, I really enjoyed the palace especially the garden. I walked through the garden and took pictures of fountains and statues. I ventured all the way to the top of the garden and got some really great shots of the palace and the city of Vienna. I also saw some emu's and squirrels while I walked the trails of the garden. I even sat on a few of the benches and admired the beautiful scenery and hundreds of years worth of history around me. As I sat there, a delicate wind gently swept across the garden awakening the leaves and trees. The sound of the animal noises and the aroma of flowers made it easy for my to slightly fall asleep. I couldn't help but to think to myself I'm so blessed to be here seeing this! I just pray that one day my family can come and bare witness to the sight and appreciate the 300 years of history behind it.


After leaving the palace, I headed to the city center to visit St. Stephan's Cathedral. On the way there, I saw the Vienna School of Business and visited St. Elisabeth's Church on Belvedere street. I took pictures then made my way to the cathedral where I began my journey of climbing up 343 stairs. After reaching the top, I needed water and nice soft seat! Luckily, I had water on me but soft seats weren't an option. Only hard wood benches were offered (still no complaints or regrets). The journey was definitely worth the reward. Also, I went inside the cathedral and took some pictures of the centuries old church to add to my collection. I even paid the fee in order to light my candle and say my prayer.

Lastly, Allison and Terry came up with this brilliant idea to get everyone together to have dinner at a Venetian restaurant. I ordered the chef's pasta and it was great! My favorite thing so far on this trip has been the Schonbrunn palace and the attached gardens. Whenever I visit Vienna again, that will be one of the first places I go.

Until next time,

Ashley Cadenhead

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