The Schönbrunn Palace complex also includes a palace park based on designs by Fischer von Erlach. In 1695, Jean Trehet finally began work on the plans for the gardens.
However, it wasn’t until Empress Maria Theresa made Schönbrunn Palace her summer residence in 1742 and Emperor Franz I commissioned Adrian van Steckhoven and Richard van der Schort to build the Dutch Botanical Garden that the palace park grew to its present size.
The palace park, which was opened to the public in 1779 by the “reform emperor,” Joseph II, and has since been an important recreation area in Vienna, offers a number of attractions such as the “Great Parterre” including the “Neptune Fountain,” which has been in operation since 1780; the artificial “Roman Ruin,” built by Hetzendorf von Hohenberg in 1778 and based on the Temple of Vepasian and Titus; the “Obelisk Fountain,” finished in 1777 and also designed by von Hohenberg; the “Fair Spring;” the “Small Gloriette” on the wooded hillside near the “Maria Theresa Gate” entrance; and the “Gloriette” on the hill overlooking the “Neptune Fountain.”
Also worth seeing are the “Columbary,” built in 1750; the “Palm House,” which Emperor Franz Joseph I commissioned his court architect Franz Xaver Segenschmidt to build in 1880; the “Sundial House” from 1904; the “Princes’ Play Pavilion” (since 2013, “Landtmanns Jausen Station” snack bar); the “Maze” with its labyrinth; the “Crown Prince Garden;” and the “Japanese Garden.”
In the 19th century, Schönbrunn Palace Park was also used for the military education of the princes: for this purpose, a play, exercise and drill ground was created for the emperor’s children in what is known as the “Meidling Depression” between “Lichte Allee” and “Finstere Allee,” including a miniature bastion built specifically for honing the young princes’ military skills.
The buildings of the palace park were not chosen at random, but served as symbolic representation of the fulfilment of the Roman Empire, the successors of which the Habsburgs considered themselves as the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire: after glorious victories (“Great Gloriette”), the imperial dynasty as Augustus’ successor rules over the world until the end of time (“Obelisk”), while its enemies are doomed to defeat (“Roman Ruin”).