Güstrow Palace is a Renaissance-era palatial schlossb built in 1558 for Ulrich, Duke of Mecklenburg. The palace features stucco decorations and a Baroque-classicist gatehouse.
Construction of the present palace was initiated in 1558 by Ulrich, Duke of Mecklenburg, in place of a medieval castle. Franciscus Pahr was the master builder who constructed the additional south and west wings in a fusion of Italian, French, and German architectural styles, unique for the time and area.
In 1657, Gustav Adolf, the last Duke of Güstrow, engaged Charles Philippe Dieussart to refurbish parts of his palace in modern style. The Baroque gatehouse and the palace bridge were built during this time. After the end of ducal control, between 1817 and 1950, the palace became the farm house of Mecklenburg workers. Further restoration took place from 1963 to 1978, when the palace was restored to its original grandeur.
Güstrow Palace is quadrangular in shape. Some of the old furniture has been removed to Schwerin and other places following the death of Magdalena Sybilla which marked the end of the Güstrow lineage. In one part of the palace, there are well preserved Flemish paintings; one particular painting is of a Dutchman smoking. A theatre is in good shape with well preserved original stucco paintings. The stucco ceilings are retained in their original form in the palace. The banquet hall's ceiling has unique stucco paintings of hunting scenes which are adaptations from Dutch copper engravings. The medieval rooms in the basement of the palace, which are vaulted, have many artifacts of the medieval period of Germany. The art chamber contains exhibits of hunting and ceremonial weapons. The refurbished former dining halls, residential and reception rooms have exhibits of paintings of Cranach, Marten de Vos, and Tintoretto. Antique ceramic vessels and a large number of glass items are on display in the former chamber of the duchess. There are also displays from the 19th to 21st centuries.
The grounds contain stables and a well-tended garden. The garden has been redone with beds of lavender and walkways.
The palace houses a museum related to the male line of Duchess Elisabeth Sophie of Mecklenburg's family, presenting also art exhibitions and concerts.References:
The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.
In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.
The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.
From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.
As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).
Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.
Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.