Nymphenburg Palace in Munich

Monday, 4 December 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Museums, Exhibitions, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks
Reading Time:  11 minutes

Nymphenburg Palace © Richard Bartz/cc-by-sa-2.5

Nymphenburg Palace © Richard Bartz/cc-by-sa-2.5

The Nymphenburg Palace (“Castle of the Nymph“), is a Baroque palace in Munich, Bavaria. The palace was the main summer residence of the former rulers of Bavaria of the House of Wittelsbach. The palace, together with its park, is now one of the most famous sights of Munich. The baroque facades comprise an overall width of about 700 metres. Some rooms still show their original baroque decoration while others were later redesigned in rococo or neoclassical style. The palace serves also as headquarters of the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes. The palace was commissioned by the prince-electoral couple Ferdinand Maria and Henriette Adelaide of Savoy to the designs of the Italian architect Agostino Barelli in 1664 after the birth of their son Maximilian II Emanuel. The central pavilion was completed in 1675. As a building material it utilised limestone from Kelheim. The castle was gradually expanded and transformed over the years. Starting in 1701, Maximilian Emanuel, the heir to Bavaria, a sovereign electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, undertook a systematic extension of the palace. Two pavilions were added each in the south and north of Barelli’s palace by Enrico Zucalli and Giovanni Antonio Viscardi and were connected with the centre pavilion by two gallery wings. In 1716, Joseph Effner redesigned the facade of the centre pavilion in French Baroque style with pilasters. Later, the south section of the palace was further extended to build the court stables (1719). For the sake of balance, the orangery building was added to the north which was only completed in 1758. Finally, Nymphenburg Palace was completed with a grand circle (the Schlossrondell) of Baroque mansions (the so-called Kavaliershäuschen – cavalier’s lodges) erected under Maximilian Emanuel’s son Holy Roman Emperor Charles VII Albert. In 1795, Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria ordered the widening of the galleries on the park side. In 1826, under King Ludwig I of Bavaria, his architect Leo von Klenze removed the gables of the main pavilion with the Electoral coat of arms and created an attic style decoration directly under the roof instead.

With the Treaty of Nymphenburg signed in July 1741, Charles Albert allied with France and Spain against Austria. Two of his children were born here: Maria Antonia (future Electress of Saxony) in 1724 and Maria Anna Josepha (future Margravine of Baden-Baden) in 1734. Charles Albert lived during his time in Munich as Holy Roman Emperor at Nymphenburg Palace and died there in 1745. In 1747, Elector Max III. Joseph founded the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory. In 1792, Elector Charles Theodor opened the park for the public. For a long time, the palace was the favourite summer residence of the rulers of Bavaria. King Max I Joseph died there in 1825 and his great-grandson King Ludwig II was born there in 1845. In 1863, the only meeting between Ludwig and Otto von Bismarck was held in Nymphenburg, although they remained connected in a lifelong friendship. Today, Nymphenburg is open to the public but also continues to be a home and chancery for the head of the House of Wittelsbach, currently Franz, Duke of Bavaria. To the Jacobites, who trace the line of legitimate British monarchy down through the legal heirs of James II of England, the head of the House of Wittelsbach is the legitimate heir of the Stuart claims to the thrones of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland; this claim is however not being actively pursued.

The main building alone has more than 300,000 visitors per year. Nymphenburg Palace is running dead even with the Munich Residence and lies ahead of Schleissheim Palace, but clearly behind the castles of King Ludwig II, especially Neuschwanstein. It contains several museums:

Stone Hall © Fvz/cc-by-sa-3.0 Nymphenburg Palace © Richard Bartz/cc-by-sa-2.5 Nymphenburg Palace Park © Rufus46/cc-by-sa-3.0 Marstallmuseum Nymphenburg © MarcelBuehner/cc-by-sa-3.0 The Grand Parterre © Florian Adler/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Marstallmuseum Nymphenburg © MarcelBuehner/cc-by-sa-3.0
The 200-hectare (490-acre) park, once an Italian garden (1671), which was enlarged and rearranged in French style by Dominique Girard, a pupil of André Le Notre, was finally redone in the English manner during the early 19th century by Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell, on behalf of prince-elector Charles Theodore. Von Sckell was also the creator of the English Garden in Munich. He preserved the main elements of the Baroque garden (such as the “Grand Parterre”). The park is bisected by the long western canal along the principal axis which leads from the palace to the marble cascade (decorated with stone figures of Greek and Roman gods) in the west. The iron greenhouse north of the Grand Parterre was completed in 1807, the adjacent geranium house in 1816. The garden parterre is still a visible feature of the French garden. As part of the transformation of the entire castle grounds by Sckell it was simplified, but retained its original size. The “Grand Cascade” was built by Joseph Effner in 1717. He was referring to a concept of François Roëttiers. The water falls in the middle of a two-part water staircase, the first stage being half round to the west, the second, deeper, is formed to the east. The cascade consists of symmetry which continues through the centre channel. The right side of the cataract was covered with pink marble in 1770. Originally a supporting architecture was to be provided, which was never executed. Instead, from 1775 to 1785, sculptures were added. Many were the work of Dominik Auliczek and Roman Anton Boos, who later added twelve decorative marble vases with mythological themes. The fountains in front of the palace and in the garden parterre continue to be operated by the water powered Pumping Stations built between 1803 and 1808. The Northern Cabinet Garden is small garden that borders directly the garden side of the north wing of the main palace. It is also called Kaisergarten, because it is in the immediate vicinity of the rooms where Charles Albert lived during his time in Munich as Emperor Charles VII. It has its counterpart in the Southern Cabinet Garden where François de Cuvilliés built an octagonal bird house in 1757. Two lakes are situated on both sides of the canal. The “Dörfchen” was created under Maximilian III Joseph as Petit hameau. The “Salettl” (1799), a cottage with its little garden nearby close to the former menagerie served as attraction for the children of Maximilian IV Joseph. The garden wall (1730–1735) preserves several Ha-ha effects. A passage close to the old arboretum in the north of the Grand Parterre leads to the large Botanical Garden of Munich. Originally there was also a visual axis, the Durchblick, to the north-west-located Blutenburg Castle. The canals of Nymphenburg are part of the northern Munich channel system, a system of waterways that connected also to the complex of Schleissheim Palace. The endpoint of the eastern canal leading from the city to the palace forms the Cour d’honneur, the centre was designed by Effner as a water parterre with a fountain, cascade and branching canals on both sides. The driveway (“Auffahrtsallee”) from the city on both sides of the eastern canal is framed by a semicircle of smaller baroque buildings (“Kavalierhäuser”) at the Cour d’honneur. The eastern endpoint of the canal is the Hubertusbrunnen (1903, a fountain building by Adolf von Hildebrand). Within the park, a number of pavilions were built:

  • The Pagodenburg (1716–1719) – an octagonal, two story pavilion with Delft tile decoration downstairs and Chinoiserie upstairs. It was built by Joseph Effner as “maison de plaisance” and teahouse.
  • The Badenburg (1719–1721) – a Baroque pavilion also by Joseph Effner. It served for the private bathing and contains several rooms including a grand banqueting hall with a festive ornament decor by Charles Dubut and a very large tiled bath with a pool. The dressing room is decorated with various Chinese printed wallpapers. In the Monkey Cabinet the Elector performed his toilette. It was the first major building in Europe for centuries that was exclusively for the purpose of enjoying a comfortable bathroom.
  • The Magdalenenklause – a faux ruin for retreat and meditation, erected between 1725 and 1728. The building with its prayer room is considered as an early representative of the hermitage and the ruins of architecture in Germany; it was to serve Max Emanuel as a place of contemplation – a memento mori, whose completion the elector however did not longer witness.
  • The Amalienburg – a Rococo hunting lodge constructed in 1734–1739 by François de Cuvilliés for Charles Albert and his wife, Maria Amalia, including a hall of mirrors and a kennel room for the hunting dogs. The building with its decoration is a definite masterpiece at the climax of European rococo.
  • The Apollotemple – a neoclassical monopteros temple by Leo von Klenze, erected in 1862–1865

The architecture of the garden pavilions was influential for other architecture in Germany. So the Wittelsbach Falkenlust Palace was built in the style of the Amalienburg while the Pagodenburg served as prototype for the building of the same name in Rastatt. The main building alone has more than 300,000 visitors per year. Nymphenburg Palace is running even with the Munich Residence and lies ahead of Schleissheim Palace, but clearly behind the castles of King Ludwig II, especially Neuschwanstein.

Read more on Schloss Nymphenburg, muenchen.de – Schloss Nymphenburg, schloesser.bayern.de – Schloss Nymphenburg, Nymphenburg Porcelain and Wikipedia Schloss Nymphenburg (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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