As with many German names, 'Schönbrunn' can be literally translated into English and means 'beautiful fountain', a reference supposedly to Emperor Matthias who is said to have uttered the words on coming across the fountain in 1619 while out hunting.
In those days the area, some 6 km from the city centre, was very much out in the country and was a popular escape for the aristocracy to indulge in some hunting.
The fountain in question still exists in the grounds of the present-day palace complex and although its purpose now is purely decorative, it did supply the palace with water till the end of the 18th C.
Schönbrunn has certainly come up in the world since it first came into the hands of the Austrian nobility when Maximilian II acquired the land in 1569. His hunting lodge was destroyed by the Turks in 1683 and Leopold I intended its successor to be a much grander affair and one to rival the Palace of Versailles.
Unfortunately war got in the way of the project, which was to have been built where the Gloriette now stands, and a subsequent lack of funds meant a simpler version was created and it wasn't until the reign of the Empress Maria Theresia (1740-80) that the magnificent structure we can admire today was built.
Around 40 of the 1441 rooms of the palace are open for public viewing, including various imperial apartments and the Hall of Mirrors where a 6-year old Mozart played for Maria Theresia.
As you wander through the palace, try and visualize some of the important events that the walls have witnessed: the arrival of Napoleon and his troops, the death of Austria's most famous Emperor, Franz Josef, the signing of the abdication in 1918 by Emperor Karl I, the British soldiers based here during the allied occupation of 1945-55, the meeting between Kennedy and Krushchev in 1961....
You can easily spend a whole day at Schönbrunn as not only can you tour the palace, but the grounds themselves are worthy of a visit.
The palace complex covers around 1.6 km² and the fabulous formal gardens, also dating back to the time of Maria Theresia, have lots of hidden treasures e.g. Roman ruins (from 1778!), the world's oldest zoo, fountains, an obelisk, the impressive Gloriette, a maze, botanical gardens, even a public swimming pool and of course, plenty of refreshment possibilities where you can sit back and enjoy the sumptuous surroundings.
Schönbrunn is one of Vienna's most popular attractions and one that you really should have on your 'to do' list if you have the time to do it justice. After all, over 6 million visitors a year can't be wrong.
With the map of Vienna and the Schönbrunn Palace below, you can zoom in or out or move in all directions by using the controls to the left. And the buttons on the top right switch between a traditional map view, a satellite view and a mixture of the two.
Details of Schloss Schönbrunn
Tel: +43 (0) 1 811 13-0
The palace is open daily, including public holidays.