The Baroque Waldegg Castle castle was built in 1682-86 as the summer home for Schultheiss Johann Viktor von Besenval (1638-1713) and his wife Maria Margaritha von Sury (1649—1713).
His son, Johann Viktor II (1671-1736) was a diplomat and an officer in the French Swiss Guards. After he inherited the castle he had it renovated (1729-34), adding a theater and the chapel of St. Michael, and decorated in the current French style. He brought numerous works of art back with him from France.
Johann Viktor II's son, Baron Peter Viktor von Besenval (1721-1791) was born at the castle. However, he lived most of his life in France. He did, however, add an orangery to the castle in 1780. The French Revolution of 1789 was disastrous to the family's influence, business interests and wealth. While they were able to escape to Switzerland, their close ties to the old nobility made them unwelcome in France. When the Besenval family died out, the castle was abandoned until it was purchased by Joseph von Sury von Besenval in 1865. The new owner added two apartments and changed the Baroque garden into an English garden.
In 1963 the castle was transferred to the Waldegg Castle Foundation and in 1975 it became the headquarters of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, an organization that fosters understanding between the different languages and cultures of Switzerland. Beginning in 1985 it was extensively renovated and repaired, a project that lasted twenty years. The castle museum opened in 1991.
The castle was built in the local Turmlihaus style, but incorporating elements of the French and Italian Baroque. The central building features three large towers and is flanked by symmetric, two story tall galleries with corner turrets. Niches in the galleries house allegorical statues which were carved in 1683 by Johann Peter Frölicher. The eastern turret houses the castle chapel with a high-Baroque altar from 1720. The second chapel has reproductions of St. Michael by Raphael and St Raphael by Domenico Fetti, the originals of which both hang in the Louvre. The main hall has ten allegorical paintings of the Arts and Sciences and is decorated with supraporte and trompe-l'œil illusions. The eastern salon has a grisaille style ceiling painting while the west salon and billiard rooms both have trompe-l'œil illusions painted on the ceiling.References:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.