Thursday, April 8, 2010

Places: Scholss Laxenburg

One of the places featured most prominently in So Faithful a Heart is the Imperial summer estate of Laxenburg.  Located about ten miles south of Vienna, the palace and grounds were built and developed by the Empress Maria Theresa and served as the Imperial Family's summer home. Maria Theresa's oldest son Josef II, regarded it as his favorite of all the Imperial estates.

Schloss Laxenburg was a generous palatial estate in the countryside, several miles outside of Vienna. Of all of Emperor Joseph’s estates, this was his favorite because contained within it were his finest hunting grounds, several lush gardens dotted with pavilions, small forests, wooded paths, a large, picturesque, pond with row boats, picnic grounds, spas, and green lawns which were ideal for all sorts of outdoor entertainment. In addition to the grounds was the palace, which housed a small theater, ballrooms, a large banquet hall, casinos, and several estate rooms. It sat just on the edge of a tiny village that boasted many fine shops, caf├ęs, wineries and taverns, all designed to accommodate His Majesty, his retinue, and his noble guests. Whenever the Emperor took his summer recess, he generally brought his opera company along with several other musicians and performers who were housed in a row of luxurious apartments not far from the theater, and while there, were given free reign of the grounds and use of all the estate had to offer. It was a place of beauty, relaxation, indulgence, sensual pleasures and delights for the enjoyment of the Emperor and his honored guests.

 When Steph and I were last in Vienna to be filmed for a documentary about Mozart for his 250th birthday, we spent nearly an entire day at Laxenburg, where we enjoyed the lovely grounds, as well as a picnic near, Diana's Temple, which is a large pavilion located about a mile from the main palatial complex. If you're ever in Vienna, take the opportunity to travel down to Laxenburg. It's not one of the more popular or well-known tourist spots, but it's well worth any trouble it might take to get there.

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