Schleissheim Palace

Munich, Germany

Schleissheim Palace actually comprises three palaces in a grand baroque park in the village of Oberschleißheim, a suburb of Munich. The palace was a summer residence of the Bavarian rulers of the House of Wittelsbach.

Old Schleissheim Palace

The history of Schleissheim Palace started with a renaissance country house (1598) and hermitage founded by William V close to Dachau Palace. The central gate and clock tower between both courtyards still date back to the first building period. The inner courtyard is called Maximilianshof, the outer one Wilhelmshof. Under William's son Maximilian I the buildings were extended between 1617 and 1623 by Heinrich Schön and Hans Krumpper to the so-called Old Palace.

The rooms were decorated by Peter Candid. Maximilian's son and successor Ferdinand Maria died here in 1679. After heavy destruction in the Second World War the palace with its spacious buildings was reconstructed. Most of the stucco decoration of the chapel Wilhelmskapelle has been preserved. The Old Schleissheim Palace houses today two exhibitions, one on religious culture, the other the history of Prussia. The Grand Hall in the middle of the main building today serves as foyer for the museums.

Lustheim Palace

Then Enrico Zuccalli built Lustheim Palace as a garden villa in Italian style in 1684-1688 for Maximilian II Emanuel and his first wife, the Austrian princess Maria Antonia.

Lustheim lies on a circular island and forms as a point de vue the conclusion of the baroque court garden. The floor plan of manor reminiscent of a stylized H, to the central main building will be followed by two wing-like avant-corps. The brick built and plastered building has two storeys, the middle section is dominated by a belvedere, which provides a wide view of the surrounding countryside. The center of the palace is the great hall in the middle section, which is flanked laterally by the apartments of the Elector and Electress. Upstairs rooms were simple for the servants, the basement contained the kitchen and utility rooms.

The interior is dominated by the large banqueting hall in the middle of the building. The frescoes were done by Johann Anton Gumpp, Francesco Rosa and Johann Andreas Trubillio.

Since 1968 the palace has housed a grand collection of Meissen porcelain, only outranged by the Porzellansammlung in the Zwinger, Dresden. The palace once formed the centre point of a semicircle of round buildings. Two pavillons still exist: To the south of Lustheim Place the Renatus Chapel was erected in 1686 by Zuccalli in a pavillon. The northern pavillon houses the decorated stable which was built for the favourite horses of Elector Max Emanuel.

New Schleissheim Palace

Zuccalli also finally erected the baroque New Palace between the two palaces in 1701-1704 as the new residence, since the elector expected the imperial crown. But after Max Emanuel had lost Bavaria for some years in the War of the Spanish Succession, the construction work was interrupted. Joseph Effner enlarged the building to one of the most impressive baroque palaces in 1719-1726. But only the main wing was completed.

The New Palace is a wide-bearing construction of more than 300 meters in length. The main building, the corps de logis, is divided by 37 garden-sided window bays, eleven axes fall on the middle section with the grand staircase, the ballroom and the gallery. The middle section is structured with pilasters. The main wing is connected by arcades with two pavilions in the south and in the north, the southern pavilion should serve as a guest house, the northern one keeps the pumping station for the trick fountains of the park. The central building of the castle has three storeys. The top floor of the central building is set back garden side, so there is a large terrace. This terrace is the result of a change in the draft, after parts of the garden facade were still collapsed during construction due to an insufficient foundation.

Important samples of German baroque architecture are especially the Grand Hall, the Grand Gallery, the wide staircase, the Maximilian's Chapel and the four state apartments decorated by artists such as Charles Dubut, Franz Joachim Beich, Johann Baptist Zimmermann, Cosmas Damian Asam and Jacopo Amigoni. The Grand Gallery was constructed in line with a draft provided by Robert de Cotte. The Victory Hall, the Red Cabinet and the Chapel of the Electress keep the most significant interior decorations. Most of the rooms still show their original late baroque decoration celebrating the elector's victories against the Turks. The entirely preserved Gobelin tapestries were acquired by Max Emanuel from Flemish manufacturies when he served as Governor for the Spanish Netherlands.

Max Emanuels's son Emperor Charles VII Albert preferred the more private atmosphere of Nymphenburg Palace, so only one of four planned wings was completed.

But Max Emanuel's grandson Maximilian III Joseph ordered to decorate some rooms in rococo style. In 1763 Ignaz Günther decorated the wings of the east portal with allegorical adornments. Under King Ludwig I finally Leo von Klenze completed the grand stairway.

Klenze's neoclassical alterations of the façade were not restored with the renovation after the destructions in World War II.

Gallery of baroque paintings

The Gallery of baroque paintings owned by the Bavarian State Picture Collections is today exhibited in several rooms. Among the artists are Flemish Baroque painters such as Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck, Italians like Guido Reni, Luca Giordano, Guercino, Carlo Saraceni, Marcantonio Bassetti, Alessandro Turchi, Carlo Dolci and Pietro da Cortona, but also the Germans Joachim von Sandrart, Johann Heinrich Schönfeld and Johann Carl Loth and the Spanish painters Alonso Cano, José Claudio Antolinez and José de Ribera.

Schleissheim Park

The grand park is one of the rare preserved baroque gardens in Germany. Its structure with canals and bosquet area was arranged by Zuccalli. Dominique Girard, a pupil of Le Notre, constructed the grand parterre and the cascade until 1720. Water forms since the central element in the garden. The Grand Canal in the garden center and the ditch round of Lustheim island are part of the northern Munich channel system, a system of waterways that connected also to the complex of Nymphenburg Palace.

From the Old Palace, a line of sight goes south to the Frauenkirche in Munich, which is also the end point of another line of sight of the Fürstenried Palace. The northern side channel has finally Dachau Palace as target.

In the Brunnhaus (well house), which was built in 1867 north of the Old Palace by Carl von Effner, the waterwheel and the pumps are still present, the fountains are, however, now powered by electric pumps.

Beer garden

The Schloßwirtschaft Oberschleißheim Biergarten is located on the palace grounds, with seating for 1,000. Its roots trace back to 1597, when the founder of the Hofbräuhaus brewery retired to a farm there. Following the building of the New Schleissheim Palace in the 17th century, the Schloßwirtschaft (palace restaurant) provided catering to its workers and servants. A royal brewery followed, enjoying a long period of success before closing. Under the shade of chestnut trees Hofbrauhaus beers and traditional Bavarian fare are served today, enjoyed with a picturesque view of the palace, particularly at sunset.

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Details

Founded: 1617-1704
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Germany
Historical period: Reformation & Wars of Religion (Germany)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sudip Karmakar (14 months ago)
Nice historic place.. must visit
Tresa Zen (2 years ago)
Grand palace with well preserved/restored interiors, love the stairs, frescoes and the hall upstairs but most chambers are unfurnished. This palace is not crowded like many other palaces which is nice. I recommend going to the new palace only because the lustheim palace & old palace is not so interesting if youre not into porcelaine & dolls
Lynne Ross (2 years ago)
Not crowded. Best to walk the park and visit both palaces. One has a Meissen china and the other temporary seasonal exhibits. We say a Christmas exhibit. It was beautiful and just as grand as the Residency in Würzburg.
Kris S (2 years ago)
Very impressive, well restored palace that was modelled on Napoleon's Versailles (but actually never really lived in). Check the web and flyers for special 90-minute tours of very competent guides (apparently exclusively in German). Parking is free. There is a small and very basic beergarden in the Summer and the extensive park invites to a casual stroll after visiting the palace.
James Blake (2 years ago)
The performance was incredible, but the hall was so hot and stuffy it was hard to appreciate the music. Absolutely worth a visit but if you're attending a show skip the prosecco and drink coffee, or risk offending your grandmother with sleepy eyes!
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The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.