imperial summer residence
At the end of the seventeenth century Emperor Leopold I commissioned the Baroque architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, who had received his training in Rome, to design an imperial hunting lodge for his son, Crown Prince Joseph, later to become Emperor Joseph I. Replacing the château de plaisance built on this site for the dowager empress Eleonora of Gonzaga in 1642, it was to grow into a palatial imperial residence over the course of the eighteenth century. During the reign of Maria Theresa, as an imperial summer residence, Schönbrunn Palace became the glittering focus of court life. From this time on, it played host to the leading statesmen of Europe. Schönbrunn Palace is one of Austria’s most important cultural assets, and since the 1960s has been one of Vienna’s major tourist attractions, drawing millions of visitors each year.