Vienna Media News 03/2012 VIDEO: Schönbrunn
The history of Schönbrunn begins with the construction of a stately home on the site in 1642. Various building modifications were undertaken in the following decades before the palace and formal gardens were completely remodeled under Maria Theresa after 1743. Emperor Franz Joseph was born at Schönbrunn and spent his final years at the palace. After his death the complex was transferred to the fledgling republic. 45 of the 1,441 rooms of the former Habsburg summer residence are open to the public. Inside, the building is finished in the Rococo style, with 14 carat gold leaf ornaments, Bohemian crystal chandeliers and lavish tiled ovens around every corner. Paneled with rosewood and inlaid with Indian and Persian miniatures, the Room of Millions is one of the most impressive examples of Rococo architecture anywhere in the world.
The Baroque formal gardens and the modifications commissioned by Maria Theresia in the last decade before she died have largely survived unscathed. Set out in a star formation, the tree-lined alleys give the grounds a pleasing symmetry with the palace in the middle. Elaborately laid out flowerbeds are punctuated with small squares featuring fountains and statues. The Gloriette and Palmenhaus are two of the most attractive buildings on the grounds.
Schönbrunn Zoo opened as a menagerie in 1752, making it the world's oldest zoo. In another superlative, Schönbrunn was crowned the world's best zoo by respected British zoo-analyst Anthony Sheridan in 2009 and 2010. The generously-proportioned enclosures are designed to mirror their inhabitants' natural habitat. Each year more than two million people visit the zoo to see the 500-plus species that call Schönbrunn home. Schönbrunn's breeding program has generated a number of high-profile successes over the years: in 1906 it became the first place in the world to successfully breed an African elephant in captivity. And in 2007 it celebrated the birth of captive-bred panda cub Fu Long, followed by the arrival of his brother Fu Hu in August 2010.
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