Twin fountains welcome you to the courtyard in front of Schönbrunn Palace. This eastern Ehrenhofbrunnen was sculpted by Joseph Baptist Hagenauer in 1776. The configuration represents the former Empire of Austria regions of Galicia, Lodomeria and Transylvania. Before entering the palace, let’s have a brief history lesson. Where you are standing was an abbey named Katterburg in the 14th century. In 1569, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II purchased the property. His transaction began a 350 year ownership by the Austrian House of Habsburg. Maximilian II and his descendants used the acreage as a private hunting preserve for over a century. It was renamed Schönbrunn meaning beautiful spring in 1642. In 1683, the country house (châteaux de plaisance) was destroyed by the Turks. The initial Schönbrunn Palace was built from 1696 until 1700. From 1743 until 1780, Empress Maria Theresa significantly expanded the summer residence and gardens. Most of what you see today resulted from her flamboyant imagination and excessive spending. After her death, few members of the royal family used the palace until Franz Joseph I of Austria (1830 – 1916). Two years later, his successor, Charles I, was dethroned and fled the palace. Since 1918, this architectural gem has been a museum owned by the Republic of Austria.