More than a century on, Austria has  has certainly not forgotten its longest reigning emperor who played a key role in the start of World War I.

Franz Joseph I died in 1916, after ruling for almost 68 years.

He was the third longest-reigning monarch of any major country in European history – after Louis XIV of France and Johann II of Liechtenstein. See this short film about the man and the Habsburg dynasty.

Franz Joseph was born and died at Schoenbrunn Palace, a former summer residence for the monarchy and now Vienna’s leading tourist attraction.

A floodplain of the Wien River, the palace area was once a royal fishing and hunting site and the name Schoenbrunn (beautiful spring) comes from an artesian well on the land.

The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.

And the fingerprints of Franz Joseph are all over this wonderful structure.


Schoenbrunn Palace Gloriette

As well as the stunning neoclassical palace, the grounds include a series of follies, a maze, French garden, a fern house and a world-famous zoo.

The axis of the garden points towards a 60-metre-high hill, which since 1775, has been crowned by the Gloriette structure, which today houses a cafe and an observation deck.

On July 28, 1914, Franz Joseph declared war on Serbia, escalating a diplomatic crisis into WWI.

A month earlier, his heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been assassinated by a Bosnian Serb nationalist.


YouTube video credit: franzjoseph2016 website

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