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 Previously, the royal palace was the cramped and outdated Old Castle (Altes Schloss) in the heart of Stuttgart.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:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.