Mannheim Palace is a large Baroque palace, originally the main residence of the Prince-electors of the Electorate of the Palatinate of the House of Wittelsbach. It is now primarily used by the University of Mannheim.
The city of Mannheim, founded in 1606, was fortified and at the present site of the castle there was a fortress called Friedrichsburg, sometimes serving as alternative residence for the Elector, one of the most important territorial princes of the Holy Roman Empire.
The actual palace dates from the 18th century. When Elector Karl III Philip had confessional controversies with the inhabitants of his capital Heidelberg, he decided to make Mannheim the Palatinate's new capital in 1720. Karl Philip decided to construct a new palace as his residence on the site of the old Friedrichsburg. It was part of a general trend among the German princes to create grand new residences in that era.
Construction was commenced solemnly on June 2, 1720. The building process was intended to cost about 300,000 Gulden, financed by an extraordinary “palace tax”, but in the end, the palace cost about 2 million Gulden and severely worsened the Palatinate's financial situation. The first administrative institutions began using the palace in 1725, but Karl Philip was able to transfer his court to the new residence only in 1731. Construction was not completed until 1760.
Karl Philip died in 1742 and was succeeded by a distant relative, the young Karl Theodor. During his reign, the palace and the city of Mannheim saw their zenith. The glamour of the Elector's court and Mannheim's then famous cultural life lasted until 1778, when Karl Theodor became Elector of Bavaria by inheritance and he moved his court to Munich. Although Mannheim kept the title of “residence”, the palace was used merely as accommodation for several administrative bodies.
Things worsened further during the Napoleonic Wars, when Mannheim was besieged. During Napoleon's reorganization of Germany, the Electorate of the Palatinate was split up and Mannheim became part of the Grand Duchy of Baden, thus losing its capital/residence status. Some glamour returned to Mannheim Palace when Stéphanie de Beauharnais, the consort of Grand Duke Karl of Baden, resided here after 1806. For most of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the palace served no uniform purpose, being used as a representative building and a museum for the city.
In World War II, the palace was heavily bombed and partly destroyed. Many people supported demolishing it after the war to create space for a more modern city architecture. These plans came to nothing and the palace was reconstructed.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.