Just like there are some famous people, there are some famous bathrooms.
The life of the royal family is pretty fascinating and we are able to find out, in every little detail, a lot about the way they lived, about their sumptuous palaces and splendid balls, but almost never about things that seem trivial, but have a history worth mentioning. Such is the bathroom of Empress Sissi (Elisabeth of Austria).
Sissi was the first member of the imperial family to have a real bathroom, the way we understand the term today. It was installed in 1876 and by then no other place had bathrooms, washrooms or running water. All the nobles were using the basin and the pot.
History records show that the empress encountered resistance when planning this project and, much later when she tried to make bathing a custom, a natural thing, she needed to force this upon the other inhabitants of the palace.
Sissi’s bathroom is in the Hofburg Palace, behind the dressing room and overlooking the courtyard, in a small room which had been priorly used for storage.
The toilet bowl strikingly resembles a dolphin, and the hardwood floor was covered with linoleum for protection. Linoleum was a recent discovery of those times.The bathroom walls were decorated with floral curtains and the mirrors with painted peonies.
Most of the original features were preserved, including the bathtub made of galvanized copper. Unfortunately, the corresponding fittings have not survived through time. In this room, Elisabeth took steam baths with essential oils and cold showers to improve blood circulation. Once a week, the hair care ritual took place and it lasted for a whole day. It is said that Sissi didn’t waste any time. While the egg yolk and brandy treatment she was using was allowed to act, she studied foreign languages.
Isn’t it fascinating how something we don’t even pay attention to has such an interesting history?