Hellbrunn Castle (Schloss Hellbrunn) is a 17th century castle built by the Prince-Archbishop Markus Sittikus von Hohenems. The question: what is an Archbishop to do when he has too much cash on his hands is answered at this incredible castle. Markus Sittikus von Hohenems turned his summer summer palace and its immense gardens into trick fountains, used as practical jokes on his guests, soaking them when they least expected it. Still running hundreds of years later, though now just for tourists groups led through by guides, the palace has surprise water spouts everywhere.
The Archbishop, who was undoubtedly an incredibly fun guy, would stand in just the right spot, and while he had his guests distracted with an explanation of this statue or that architectural detail, he would step on a button on the floor and soak everyone but himself.
When I visited it was in the middle of winter and unbelievably cold. This didn’t stop the guide from shocking each person on our tour at some point by soaking them with freezing water. This one got me.
One of the most amazing things at Hellbrunn is the water-powered mechanical theater with nearly 200 moving wood figures. The village comes alive to the sound of an organ, also original and completely powered by water.
The “Royal Table”. After a fine meal, the guests would be shocked as the table and seats began sprouting water all over them.
Besides all of the watery hijinks, Hellbrunn is truly beautiful, its architecture, statues, and man-made grottoes all take their cues from Ancient Greek and Roman mythology. This is just one of the many non-trick fountains, the “Altemps Fountain.”