The largest fortified Stauffer palace north of the Alps was built at the end of the 12th century by the Staufer emperors, which included Frederick I (Barbarossa) in Bad Wimpfen. Even from a far one is impressed by the striking silhouette with the two keeps, named the Red and the Blue Tower, the palace chapel, the arcades of the Stauffer palace and the stone house. Stauffer ladies in historical costumes give guided tours of the imperial palace every Sunday at 2 pm.
The Blue Tower was built about 1200 and served as the high watch tower well into the 19th century. The tower watchmen were hired particularly to look out for fire. The tower watchman tradition – probably the oldest in Germany - has continued for centuries up until today. From 32 meters above one can enjoy a splendid view of the Neckar River valley and the Old Town, which is a listed site, or listen to the tower trumpets on Sundays at 12 am during the season.
The Red tower was also built around 1200. This would have been the last refuge of the lord of the castle it was elaborately equipped (Romanesque fireplace, sanitary fittings). Nearby is the Nürnberger Türmchen, a small tower serving as a reminder of the help renderd by the Free Imperial City of Nürnberg after the Thirty Years` War.
The Steinhaus was the largest residential building in the palace, built after 1217. Probably originally the women´s apartments in the Staufen palace, it is the largest Romanesque dwelling in Germany. Late Gothic stepped gable and seven-sectional window. On the first floor there are valuable medieval and Late Gothic mural paintings. The building now houses the Bad Wimpfen Municipal Museum of History (devoted mainly to prehistory, early history, the Staufen medieval period and the art of stonemasonry).
The Staufen Imperial Palace Chapel (ca. 1160) was dedicated to St. Nicholas with imperial gallery at the entrance from the palace hall. Converted in 1837 into a farmhouse with a barn and stables, the building was restored to its original state after 1908. Today it houses the Bad Wimpfen Municipal Museum of Ecclesiastical History with exhibits from the treasure vaults of the town`s monasteries and churches.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.