The Palais Rohan represents not only the high point of local baroque architecture, but has also housed three of the most important museums in the Strasbourg since the end of the 19th century: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts. The city gallery, Galerie Robert Heitz, is also in a side wing of the palace.
The palace was commissioned by Cardinal Armand Gaston Maximilien de Rohan, Bishop of Strasbourg, from the architect Joseph Massol and erected between 1731 and 1742 according to plans by Robert de Cotte. It was built on the site of the former residence of the Bishop, the so-called Palatium, which had been built from 1262 onwards. In 1744, Louis XV stayed in the palace, and Marie Antoinette stayed there in 1770. In 1805, 1806 and 1809, Napoléon Bonaparte stayed there and had some of the rooms changed to suit his tastes and those of his wife, Joséphine. In 1810, Napoleon's second wife Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma spent her first night on French soil in the palace. Another royal guest was king Charles X of France in 1828. From 1872 until 1898, the palace served as the main building of the imperial German Universität Straßburg, up until the founding and opening of the new 'Kaiser-Wilhelms-Universität'. The art collection of the city (previously kept in the Aubette on the Place Kléber, which had been burned after Prussian artillery fire on August 24, 1870) had been completely destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War. As of 1898 and during the course of the re-establishment of the art collection, the palace became the seat of the imperial museums of Strasbourg. On August 11, 1944, the building was damaged by British and American bombs. The restoration of the premises was completed in the 1990s.
The palace is built on a nearly square base which falls away toward the Ill River and is subdivided around a three-part inner court by a gallery. South of that, there is a main wing for the Prince-Archbishop, with its two representative Classic façades, which extends the entire width of the building. The most extravagant and overwhelming feature, from the viewpoint of the overall impression, is the façade which faces the Ill, with a small flat terrace with wrought-iron railings extending on both sides before it. The courtyard gate to the cathedral is wide and curved and has a roof with religious sculptures.
The chambers of the Prince-Archbishop, which can be viewed today in nearly their original condition, are divided into the grand appartement (display space, facing the river) and petit appartement (living space, facing the inner court), as in the Palace of Versailles. On both sides of the suites are the two most spacious rooms of the palace, the dining hall and the library, which both extend over the entire longitudinal axis of the wing. The library also serves as the nave of the castle's very small chapel.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.