Nymphenburg Palace is the main summer residence of the former rulers of Bavaria of the House of Wittelsbach. The palace owes its foundation as a summer residence to the birth of the long-awaited heir to the throne, Max Emanuel, who was born in 1662 to the Bavarian Elector Ferdinand Maria and his wife, Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, after some ten years of marriage.
In 1664 construction began to the plans of the north Italian architect Agostino Barelli, who also designed Munich's Theatine Church. Initially, the Nymphenburg was a mighty cubic pavilion, flanked by the court church, several outbuildings and a small, walled, geometrical garden. By 1679 the palace complex, in its first incarnation, had nearly been finished.
Nymphenburg Palace acquired its present-day dimensions under the elctor Max Emanuel (reigned 1680-1726). Supervised by the court architect Henrico Zuccalli, two off-set pavilions were built on each side of the existing structure, to the north and south. Begun in 1701, the pavilions were linked with the central edifice by galleries. However, the Spanish War of Succession soon put a stopp to construction work because Max Emanuel was again obliged to spend time outside Bavaria, from 1704 to 1715.
When the Elector returned to Munich in 1715, he was accompanied by numerous French, or French-trained, artists. As his palace complexes, such as those in Dachau, Fürstenried, Nymphenburg and Schleißheim, were further enlarged, these artists supplied works conforming to the latest French fashions.
Notable among them were the architect Joseph Effner and the garden artist Dominique Girard. But local painters also received important commissions. The views of the Bavarian Palaces in the galleries were executed by Franz Joachim Beich, while among the stucco workers Johann Baptist Zimmermann was the leading light. So it was that the Munich court developed into one of Europe's foremost centres of the arts.
About 1715, the court architect Joseph Effner, together with the French landscape architect Dominique Girard, designed an overall plan for Nymphenburg and the subsequent extension was carried out in accordance with this plan.
Karl Albrecht, first as Elector of Bavaria (reigned 1726-45) and then as Emperor Charles VII (from 1742 onwards), continued the construction work at Nymphenburg begun by his father. He enhanced the complex by adding the palace's crescent. Both palace and crescent were intended to form the centre of a planned 'Carlstadt'. His most precious legacy, however, is the Amalienburg in Nymphenburg's park. With this witty, graceful Rococo gem, François Cuvillés the Elder, a Paris-trained architect, brought Munich court art to its peak of expression. Executed by pre-eminent artists and specialist court workshops, the Amalienburg now ranks among the most charming European architectural creations of the period.
Under Elector Maximilian III Joseph (reigned 1745-77), the Great Hall at Nymphenburg Palace acquired the opulent decoration that can be admired today. Here Johann Baptist Zimmermann, together with François Cuvilliés the Elder, created a major work of Munich court Rococo. The vaulted ceiling of the Palace Chapel was also painted. Finally, under Max III Joseph, the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory moved into its present quarters at the front of the palace. At this time the park, too, was given a new look. The Grand Parterre was remodelled and adorned with statues of the most important gods of Olympus. The exterior flights of steps, also date from this period and form a suitably representative entrance to the main building and Great Hall.
Elector Karl Theodor, who ruled in Bavaria and the Palatinate from 1777 to 1799, changed little at Nymphenburg. He had the galleries widened to create new rooms which were furnished in the style of the day. In 1792 Karl Theodor opened the Nymphenburg palace park to the public.
When Bavaria became a kingdom, in the early nineteenth century, Nymphenburg resumed its important function. Elector Maximilian IV Joseph, who, as Maximilian I Joseph, was the first King of Bavaria (reigned 1806-25), ordered some of the rooms to be redesigned and appointed with noble Neoclassical furniture. The superintendent of the royal gardens, Friedrich Ludwig Sckell, tranformed the geometrical French gardens into a landscape garden in the English style.
King Maximilian I Joseph died at Nymphenburg in 1825. In subsequent years the palace remained a favourite residence of the Bavarian royal family.References:
Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.
At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.
During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.
In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.
The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.
The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.
After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.
When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.