Residenzplatz 2, 97070 Würzburg, Germany
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Photo by Thomas Robbin/age fotostock
Würzburg ResidenceThe former residence of Würzburg’s prince-bishops, this UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most important Baroque palaces in Europe. It was—remarkably, given its scale and level of detail both inside and out—built almost entirely within a single generation. Court architect Balthasar Neumann oversaw the construction, while leading architects from Germany and France created the fabulous ornamentation. Woodcarvers, sculptors, and artists from Italy—including Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, regarded as one of the greatest fresco painters of the 18th century—also contributed to the design.
Rebuilt after World War II, the palace now features a bevy of architectural styles, from German and Viennese Baroque to French château. Inside, the White, Imperial, and Garden halls are can’t-miss attractions, as are the grand staircase and ceiling fresco by Tiepolo and the Mirror Cabinet. Before leaving, be sure to take a walk in the court gardens, which feature fountains, charming yew trees, and a group of cherub statues by Johann Peter Wagner.
almost 6 years ago
A Bavarian Palace With a Resplendent Fresco
Located on both banks of the Main River is stately Bavarian Würzburg, which if translated means “spicy town.” While it lays no claim to growing cardamom, cloves or pepper, it has a long and quirky history which dates well back to before the 4th century when it was occupied by the Celts. The town is best known for its palace which was completed in 1744. The bishop architect was not very popular, so rather than living in the residence he designed, he stayed up on a high hill so that the locals wouldn’t kill him. There is much to see in this Baroque/French style palace, notably the Sistine Chapel-like fresco painted by Giovanni Tiepolo, who was paid the equivalent of $3 million at the time. His “Four Continents” fresco is resplendent and greets you as you walk up the grand staircase in dignified steps, and the watchful eye of the painter follows you as you gaze on Africa and America. My favorite room is the White Hall because it has the most interesting story. The sculptor Antonio Bossi was commissioned to design it and he did so with great fervor for nine months and created a life-like tapestry made of stucco and hoped that the princess would love it, but she barely acknowledged his work, a gesture that depressed him enough to be committed to an asylum. But there is much to take in, including the restored Hall of Mirrors (the town was badly bombed during WWII) which is a dazzling, smaller version of the more famous one in Versailles. You would gain brownie points if you knew that locals call themselves Franconians.