Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial 1,441-room Rococo summer residence in modern Vienna, Austria. It is one of the most important cultural monuments in the country, and since the 1960s it has been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. The palace and gardens illustrate the tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. At the end of the 17th century Emperor Leopold I commissioned the gifted Baroque architect Bernhard Fischer von Erlach to build a palatial hunting lodge for the heir to the throne. On the site of the old imperial château de plaisance a splendid edifice was to arise.
Half a century later under Maria Theresa Schönbrunn Palace was to become the magnificent focus of court life. From that time onwards it played host to the leading statesmen of Europe. Although Austria is now a republic, Schönbrunn has remained a place of political encounter at the highest level. The magnificent architecture and the exquisite décor of its state rooms marks Schönbrunn out as a cultural treasure and tourist attraction of the first order. The park at Schönbrunn Palace was opened to the public around 1779 and since than has provided a popular recreational area for the Viennese population and international visitors alike. Extending for 1.2 km from east to west and approximately one kilometer from north to south, it was placed together with the palace on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1996.