Bruchsal Palace (Schloss Bruchsal) is the only Prince-Bishop’s residence on the Upper Rhine. It is famous for its opulent Baroque staircase constructed by Balthasar Neumann. Bruchsal Palace was constructed in 1720 as a residence for the Prince-Bishops of Speyer. The then Prince-Bishop, Damian Hugo von Schönborn, an avid art collector, played an important role in planning the complex. The three-wing palace is built of sandstone. The collection of exquisitely matched buildings, along with the carefully laid out garden, make up an extraordinarily beautiful ensemble.
Visitors entering Bruchsal Palace’s cour d'honneur (three-sided grand courtyard) are greeted with a splendid and colourful sight. The buildings are lavishly painted, decorated with gold-plated stucco, and feature golden gargoyles in the shape of dragons. Construction of the famous staircase by Balthasar Neumann began in 1728. This stunning architectural masterpiece is unsurpassed in terms of its unique style and the poetry of its design. Franz Christoph von Hutten, who resided in the palace after Schönborn, made his mark by decorating the Fürstensaal (Prince’s hall), Marmorsaal (marble hall) and the exquisite Paradezimmer (grand rooms).
The palace complex was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War. Fortunately, the structure of the staircase was mostly preserved. The palace complex’s reconstruction was one of Baden-Württemberg’s most impressive projects of this kind. Today, Bruchsal Palace is more than a breathtaking example of Baroque architecture – it is also the outstanding result of carefully-planned, highly historically accurate reconstruction work.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.