The sumptuous Würzburg Residence was built and decorated in the 18th century by an international corps of architects, painters, sculptors, and stucco workers under the patronage of two successive Prince-Bishops, Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Karl von Schönborn.
The Residence was essentially constructed between 1720 and 1744, decorated on the interior from 1740 to 1770 and landscaped with magnificent gardens from 1765 to 1780. It testifies to the ostentation of the two Prince-Bishops, and as such illustrates the historical situation of one of the most brilliant courts of Europe during the 18th century. The most renowned architects of the period - the Viennese, Lukas von Hildebrandt, and the Parisians Robert de Cotte and Germain Boffrand - drew up the plans. They were supervised by the official architect of the Prince Bishop, Balthasar Neumann, who was assisted by Maximilian von Welsch, the architect of the Elector of Mainz. Sculptors and stucco-workers came from Italy, Flanders, and Munich. The Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo frescoed the staircase and the walls of the Imperial Hall.
As a result of a devastating air raid on March 16, 1945, the residence was almost completely burnt out and only the central building with the Vestibule, Garden Hall, Staircase, White Hall and Imperial Hall survived the inferno, their roofs destroyed. From the attic the fire ate down through wooden ceilings and floors, and all the furnishings and wall panelling which had not been stored elsewhere were devoured by the flames. Much of the furnishing and large sections of the wall panelling of the period rooms had been removed in time and thus escaped destruction. Neumann's stone vaults withstood the collapse of the burning attic. However, because the roofs had gone, further damage was incurred in the ensuing period due to dampness. In the Court Chapel, for example, most of the ceiling frescoes by Rudolph Byss succumbed to the subsequent consequences of the fire, in spite of the intact vault, and had to be laboriously reconstructed.
From 1945 to 1987, the building and its interiors were reconstructed to their current state. The residence gives consummate testimony to the imposing courtly and cultural life of the feudalistic era of the 18th century, but at the same time its varied use today is an example of modern utilisation and preservation as a monument of ahistorical structure.
The Würzburg Residence with its Court Gardens and Residence Square was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981.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.