Just a short tram ride out from the center of Vienna sits Schoenbrunn Palace. The Castle offers a bit of everything for visitors, from museums to formal gardens to the world’s oldest zoo. Plus a spectacular fountain. Or at least something of a spectacle, depending on how you look at it.
We chose to skip the museum part of the visit and simply explore the castle grounds and the zoo. The gardens at the castle were particularly impressive, even on a gray October afternoon.
There is a separate park area with a hedge maze. Let’s just say that navigating said maze was not my finest moment on this trip.
Finally, there is the Neptune Fountain.
The fountain was commissioned by Maria Theresa in the 1770s and it looks every bit of that era. Neptune holds forth from atop the fountain, standing tall with his trident. He is surrounded by a variety of figures including the Tritons (mermen of a sort) who are riding the hippocampi (sea horses) which pull Neptune’s chariot. The sea horses are particularly interesting with their webbed feet, all the better for navigating their aquatic realm.
I happen to not especially love the statue, but it does provide an impressive view of the palace if you’re willing to climb up behind and get a bit wet along the way.
If you’re up in this part of town a visit to the Vienna Zoo (a/k/a Tiergarten Schoenbrunn) is, to me, the better tourist experience. Mostly because I’m not much of a museum guy and because the zoo has lots to see. But as long as you’ve made the trip out here walking through the gardens on the way back to the metro is not a complete waste of time.
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