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 Previously, the royal palace was the cramped and outdated Old Castle (Altes Schloss) in the heart of Stuttgart.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 Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.