Where Gumbo Was (#243)
This week Gumbo was in the small town of Laxenburg, some 25km south of Vienna. Congratulations to the guessers who came up with the correct answer: George G, PortMoresby and GarryRF.
Laxenburg is best known for its castle and the adjoining large park. Actually, there are two castles here – one, in its current form, dating from the 17th century (the ‘old castle’), the other from the 18th (the ‘new castle’). It is the new castle, shown in the photo at the top, which dominates the town.
As you can see, ‘palace’ might be a better translation of the German term ‘Schloss’ than ‘castle’, although the latter term is generally used. It is also sometimes referred to as ‘Blauer Hof’, i.e. ‘blue court’. (It was never blue – the name is a reference to the Blauensteiner family, who had owned a property on the site previously.)
The photo below shows the square in front of the palace.
Laxenburg’s town hall and its attractive parish church are both situated directly opposite the palace’s entrance.
The interior of the church is also well worth seeing.
Other attractions in Laxenburg are the convent (belonging to a Swiss order of nuns) and the imperial railway station, depicted in the two subsequent photos.
The old station building now houses a restaurant. A bust of Kaiser Franz Joseph (Francis Joseph I), perhaps the best-known of the Austrian emperors, can be found just opposite.
Laxenburg was one of the two summer residences of the Habsburg emperors – the other was Vienna’s Schönbrunn palace. The park was designed along the lines of an English landscape garden, with a large lake at its centre. It covers around 250 hectares.
On a small island in the lake sits the ‘Franzensburg’, a mock-Gothic castle named after emperor Francis. It is a nice place to while away an hour or two, ideally with a cup of coffee and a piece of cake from the garden restaurant.
There are many waterways and pleasant walks within the park. The shade from the many trees can be very welcome on a hot summer’s day.
The park also contains a number of pavilions and sculptures. The one depicted below is of emperor Francis I of Austria.
The old castle nowadays houses the Austrian film archive, whilst the new one is home to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA).
Looking at these two photos of it brings back memories for me. Some 30-odd years ago, I had an office just below the big clock!
One wing of the palace is used as a conference centre. It clearly can be hired for other events, too. When we were there in August, a wedding reception was just about to start.