Schönbrunn palace, the Habsburgs' 1500-room summer residence, was only four stops on the U-bahn from my hotel. On this trip I wasn't so interested in the interior – despite Mozart performing a duet for the Empress here with his sister Nannerl in 1762 – but I definitely wanted to take some photos in the huge gardens. After a very grey day in the city I had a hunch the weather might be good the following morning. So I was up early and looked out of the window to see a hint of blue in the lightening and cloud-free sky. I arrived at Schönbrunn at 7:00 – the huge gardens open at 6:00 – and walked the 1km or so up to the Gloriette, dodging the early morning joggers, from which there is a good view of the rear elevation of the palace.
The building reached its present external appearance around 1750, during the long reign of Empress Maria Theresa, who particularly liked the existing palace and its gardens. On the skyline in the distance, the tower of Stephansdom dominating the city. The light was fabulous, cutting across the tops of the impeccable flower beds, and just off the face of the building. Finally I worked my way down to the palace itself for a view along the length of the formal garden, and left eventually at 8:50 to get back to my hotel for breakfast soon after 9:00; Mein Host thought I was crazy.