Parks Are One of the Best Things About Vienna

December 20, 2021

by Elisabeth Clemmons, Alumni Scholarship Recipient and MA student in the Department of Public Policy

Last year, during lockdown, I lived next to the famous Belvedere gardens and spent my days walking along the snowy hedges and statues. This year, I live right next to Schönbrunn. I'm now back to the routine of going for a quick stroll in between classes. And on days that I'm more free, I spend my time exploring the many nooks and crannies in the gardens. The famous "Schönbrunner Gelb," the follies of the Roman Ruins, and the zigzagging pathways make you feel like you're walking through history.

Which you are, to an extent. The estate was formerly a cornmill, but came into the possession of the Habsburgs in 1569. It was originally called "die Katterburg," and apparently one of the Habsburg emperors came across the "Schöner Brunnen," or "fair spring," one day when he was hunting. Legend had it that this fountain would provide those who drank it with beauty and rejuvenation, as the water was so pure.

The Schöner Brunnen still stands today, but you wouldn't expect something so modest to be the namesake of the entire palace.  It pales in comparison to the Obelisk and Neptune Fountains that visitors can easily stumble upon in the main paths. It's a tiny little basin nested under an archway, tucked away behind the hedges of the mazes. Perhaps its hiddenness makes it all the  more exciting, though.

While online classes are a drag, they do have their perks if they give you more time to explore. I am nevertheless looking forward to Vienna's reopening for Christmas time. Schönbrunn is just as magical with its Christmasmarkt. And what better way to top off the end of the first trimester than with a nice mug of Punsch?