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:
Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building"s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l"Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d"Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France"s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant"s designs after the elder architect"s death.
Shortly after the veterans" chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter"s Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.
Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.
The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d"artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the Historical Museum of the Armies in 1896. The two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l"armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris. The reason was that the adoption of a mainly conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service formerly required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose. The modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers.