Every great city has a landmark that is known worldwide. For Vienna, one of them is Schönbrunn castle, or to be more specific the castle complex with all of its amazing gardens. One very interesting spot in this amazing complex is definitely Palmenhaus (Palm House), a piece of tropical paradise in the heart of Vienna. It’s a place with a tropical climate in the middle of Europe, a place with enormous palm trees and other lush exotic plants that you don’t get to see every day.
If you visit our Cultural Places platform you will find quite a few amazing tours around the city of Vienna, including the tour around gorgeous Palmenhaus.
A Little Bit of History
When we first got to Palmenhaus we were introduced to some basic historical facts. Gorgeous Palmenhaus was built at the site of a former Dutch botanical garden and on the grounds of Schönbrunn Palace in 1882, by order of Emperor Franz Joseph I and it was the largest greenhouse in the world at the time. It was renovated twice, once after its destruction in WWII and second time from 2011 to 2014 in consideration of monument preservation and technical aspects.
The greenhouse has three houses – three different climatic zones regulated by steam water, the hothouse, the temperate house and the coldhouse, where showpieces of the historical collection are presented. In the southern hothouse, the temperature is kept at 18°C, in the central hall, which is the temperate house, 12°C, and in the coldhouse 5°C.
The Palmenhaus is built from iron and glass, in the Art Noveau style as many other buildings in Vienna, with Secession as one of the most important, and it fits perfectly in the surroundings.
Amazing Plants That You Will Run Into
Since there are three different climatic zones there is a tremendous variety of exotic plants that you will stumble upon, over 4.000 different species. Plants come from the Mediterranean region, the Canary Islands, South Africa, America, and Australia. One of the most notable from the Mediterranean area is a 350-year-old olive tree, donated by Spain in the 1970s. There is also fig tree, pistachio, pomegranate tree and variety of citrus fruits and they all come from the Mediterranean.
Mediterranean plants we do get to see quite often so we didn’t consider them much exotic. We were looking forward to seeing those coming from New Zealand, Australia and the USA, and tropical areas, of course. One interesting tree is the ironwood, coming from New Zealand and the USA, whose name comes from its high density, it’s the only tree that doesn’t float on the water surface. There is also the wollemia tree from Australia, which was considered extinct before it was found in 1994.
If you are a palm person, you will get to see a bunch of them coming from the Middle East, including dates. There is also one palm from Seychelles – the Sea Coconut which looks very interesting, it takes about 100 years for it to bloom for the first time and it about 6 years for its huge fruit to ripen. Pretty amazing, right?
You will also get to see Myrtle plants including eucalyptus from Australia, Tasmania and Indonesia and Asian bamboo, too. And if you wondered what do the trees of coffee and cocoa or some other exotic crops (such as starfruit, papaya, banana…) look like you will find out in Palmenhaus. Fan of exotic flowers? Explore the Palmenhaus and find different kinds of beautiful Orchids.
We were especially excited about cycads when we heard that they originate from the Mesozoic era (Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods). They kind of look like palm trees, but they have nothing in common. Carnivores, flesh-eating plants are amazing, too and there were pretty special for us because we mostly learned about them in the cartoons and never got the chance to see them in real life.
There is much more to see here but we will leave it for you to explore for yourself or with our Cultural Places Platform where you can find an audio guided tour through this amazing garden.
Traditional Austrian Restaurant in the Tropical Climate
Besides being an Art Nouveau architectural masterpiece and amazing botanical garden, Palmenhaus is one of the most popular restaurants in Vienna, serving typically Austrian cuisine, such as strudel, schnitzel and traditional soups.
For us visiting Palmenhaus was an experience like no other – we explored some of the amazing plants, took a bunch of photos and then had a break in the restaurant and relaxed a bit more. Palmenhaus is amazing whenever you get to visit it, no matter what time of the year it is there will always be a few spots in the sunshine. But even if there is no sunshine it’s not big of a deal – it is pretty warm inside, a true rainforest experience.
We suggest coming to the tropical paradise in the heart of Vienna before noon, explore the inside of it. Check out amazing plants – you will not get many opportunities to see them in person and admire the glorious construction of the building itself. Don’t forget to take photos, the plants are pretty photogenic, and the building is, too. Then, when you finish, make a brunch break, enjoy some sunshine, post your pics to Instagram and simply rest. And later on, keep exploring Vienna with guided tours that you will find on our Cultural Places Platform.