Ludwigsburg Palace is one of the largest Baroque palaces in Germany and features an enormous garden in that style. From the 18th century to 1918 it was the principal royal palace of the dukedom that became in 1806 the Kingdom of Württemberg.
The foundation stone was laid on May 17, 1704 under Duke Eberhard Ludwig of Württemberg (reigning monarch from 1693 to 1733). Begun as a hunting lodge, the project became much more complex and gained momentum over the years.
On August 17, 1709, the duke established the city of Ludwigsburg directly next to his palace, copying the proximity of Versailles to Paris. Previously, the royal palace was the cramped and outdated Old Castle (Altes Schloss) in the heart of Stuttgart. In 1718, Ludwigsburg temporarily became capital and sole residence of the dukes of Württemberg.
In 1733, when construction was complete, the baroque style prevailed in Germany. Eventually, successors of Eberhard Ludwig modified the original design of the palace, especially, Duke Charles Eugene of Württemberg and King Frederick I of Württemberg.
In the 1740s a New Palace was built in Stuttgart, and it was favoured by some of the dukes and kings of Württemberg as their primary residence, but Ludwigsburg remained in use as well. However, under King William I of Württemberg (reigned 1816-84), the palace and especially the gardens gradually decayed because the monarch, in contrast to his predecessors, showed no interest in Ludwigsburg.
Ludwigsburg Palace was not destroyed during World War II, so a renaissance of the complex could start in the mid-20th century. The continuous garden show 'Baroque in Bloom' (Blühendes Barock), that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, opened in 1953. Today, the palace and its surrounding gardens are presented to the public in a state similar to their appearance around 1800.
The palace theatre (Europe's oldest preserved theatre) and its stage machinery from 1758 are still operational.
Ludwigsburg Palace today contains three museums, Baroque Gallery, Porcelain Museum and Baroque Fashion Museum.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.