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The Blue Staircase

Grand & Imperial Tour

The Blue Staircase is the grandest stairway in the palace. Providing the highest-ranking access to the state rooms and residential apartments of the imperial family, it leads only to the principal floor of the palace.

The story of the staircase’s origin and design are illustrative of the campaign of remodelling and building that transformed the original Baroque hunting lodge into the palace that became Maria Theresa’s summer residence.

The Blue Staircase

In Joseph I’s hunting lodge, this space was a dining room. One of its original features is the ceiling fresco executed by the Italian artist Sebastiano Ricci in 1701/02. It represents a glorification of Joseph I as a hero in classical pose receiving a crown of laurels before the throne of Eternity.

Maria Theresa’s decision to extend Schönbrunn as her summer residence required the construction of a stately access to the principal floor in keeping with the demands of court ceremonial. The original dining room was thus remodelled as a stairway by the architect Nikolaus Pacassi around 1745.

A number of the original features – such as the ceiling fresco mentioned above – were not affected by the remodelling and thus still give an impression of the original High Baroque interior designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. During the course of restoration it was discovered that the decoration of the window alcoves was originally gilded. In order to preserve the visibility of this décor the gilt ornamentation in one of the window bays was exposed and reconstructed.

On the landing are likenesses of the rulers who played an important role in the history of the palace: the two paintings show Maria Theresa and Franz I Stephan, the initiators of the rebuilding of the hunting lodge as a summer residence, while the bust portrays Emperor Franz Joseph, who defined the later years of the Habsburg Monarchy.

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