Destinations Magazine

Another Amazing Austrian Attraction – The Schonbrunn Gloriette

By Linda
tents and castle

photo : Stuart Heath

Austria is a country of world class attractions. It’s full of things to do and places to go. And here’s another amazing Austrian attraction – the Schonbrunn Gloriette.


Taken from the 12th century word for ‘little glory’, a Gloriette is a building in a garden occupying an elevated position relative to its surroundings. It was an architecturally pleasing addition to a home of high standing (like a palace), particularly popular in the 18th century. It often took the form of a pavillion or tempietto (an open tomb) and was free standing – unlike orangeries and conservatories, which are attached to the main building.

A key feature of a Gloriette besides being extremely attractive and ornate, was that they were open-sided. Conservatories and Orangeries on the other hand, are enclosed with panes of glass.

Many stately homes – those belongong to wealthy, but not necessarily aristocratic families – have a small Gloriette in the garden. These look something like a large and fancy birdcage. They’re often used as a frame for growing climbing plants like honeysuckle and clematis.

An Amazing Austrian Attraction

Probably the world’s most famous and largest Gloriette is the one at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. This was built in 1755 using Emperor stone reclaimed from a former 16th century Imperial Palace, Neugebäude, also in Vienna.  It provides a unique view of Schönbrunn Palace and a vantage point to enjoy the magnificent view of Vienna beyond.

Neugebäude had been built on the site of a former tent city established by the invading Turks, in 1529. Parts of the palace remain, though much fell in to disrepair through abuse and neglect over the years.

Empress Maria Théresa, wife of Emperor Franz Josef ΙΙ (Ruler of the Holy Roman Empire) designed Schönbrunn Gloriette as a glorification of the Habsburg power, influence and the necessity of the ‘Just War’ to bring about peace.She used Emperor stone – or Käiserstein – which is a particularly robust and dense material with a white to bluish colour, commonly used for portals (door surrounds), stairs and columns.

Much of the Käiserstein from Neugebäude had been left as debris, so the conservation conscious Maria Théresa adopted a ‘waste not, want not’ approach that was quite avant garde for the times!

Schönbrunn Gloriette

When first built, Maria Théresa’s Gloriette was of open design and intended to be a sort of ‘Hall of Fame’. Plasterwork within the Gloriette features antique Roman armour, shields, standards and lions. All things that represent the power and glory of the Habsburg dynasty in their struggles to bring about peace – as they defined it, of course!

Central to the design is a triumphal arch with arcaded wings and semi-circular arches. Crowning the main arch is an imperial eagle perching on a globe and surrounded by trophies. So – modest and understated!

Virtual Tour of Schönbrunn Palace gardens and Gloriette

Use the arrows to navigate round the gardens and Gloriette.

On the steps of Schloß Schönbrun in Vienna in Vienna

The Gloriette Today As with most things, commercialism has overtaken the Gloriette. It is now a cafe – albeit a very attractive and pleasant one – providing coffee and cakes much as might have been enjoyed by its 18th century owners.

For a while during Maria Théresa’s management, it had glass windows and the family held grand dinner parties and celebrations of festive events in its very beautiful rooms. Franz Josef regularly took his breakfast looking out on the Grand Parterre garden (a highly structured and formal French designed garden), which you can do today.

The Habsburg’s also used the Gloriette as a viewing platform to look out on the city of Vienna – a truly magical sight. Today’s Gloriette also has access to the balustraded platform on top.

The bombing of Vienna in 1947 caused damage to the Gloriette, but there’s no sign of the destruction today. It’s a beautiful focal point of an extremely magnificent tourist attraction with UNESCO World Heritage site status. Well worth a visit at any time of year!


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