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Among My Souvenirs

Stories of the road

The Schönbrunn Palace

My junior year in college was my absolute favorite because I had strategically completed all my prerequisites and now, I was able to spend a whole year wandering around the great history of western Europe to my hearts content. Oddly enough, it was the only semester I got straight A’s. I love history – but you already know that!

Moving through the Dark Ages of Europe and out into the sunshine of the feudal system and the rise of the Holy Roman Empire. Ah, the new Empire that would fill the void of the demise of the great ancient empire of Rome. Now we move past the barbarian invasions to the days of knights and castles and dynastic families. The stuff heady romance novels are made of!

And it did not take much history to pass before the name Habsburg (also spelled Hapsburg) came onto the pages of her story. The German princely family founded by Albert, count of Habsburg (1153), wore the imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire almost uninterruptedly from 1440-1804. From 1804 to 1867 the Habsburg monarchy was formally unified as the Austrian Empire and from 1867 to 1918 as the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Eventually after the armistice of the First World War, this region became known as Eastern Europe with its many small countries vying for position, power and land: Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Austria, Poland.

And if you have a grand Empire you must have a grand home to go with it! Opened in 1699, the Schönbrunn Palace was the main summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, located in Vienna. The 1,441 – room Rococo palace is one of the most important historic monuments in the country. The Schönbrunn Palace in its present form was built and remodeled during the 1740–50s during the reign of empress Maria Theresa who received the estate as a wedding gift.

Though the day was gray, and the winter chill was beginning to set in the majesty and the grandeur of the rooms, the grounds, the gardens were still a sight to behold. Sadly, no interior pictures were allowed. But there on the entrance gate (as well as in various rooms) was the symbol of royal power, the double headed eagle, the bird of supremacy and authority who could see his empire stretched from the east to the west. The grand symbol gave the hint of the grandeur that we would see inside.