Wülzburg fortress is situated on the highest point of the south Frankenalb, which rises to 640m. Surrounded by adry moat hewn into the rock, it is an imposing and singular monument of a Renaissance fortress in Germany.
From the 11th century onwards a Benedictine monastery stood here. During the Reformation it was dissolved, a provost was put in charge followed by a civil administration in 1537. In 1588 Margrave Georg Friedrich d. A. von Brandenburg-Ansbach erected a pentagonal fortress with the bastions in modern Italian fortification style. The site was well chosen in the southern part of his territory, close to the imperial city of Weissenburg.
To the imperial citizens of Weissenburg the fortress always caused anxiety and posed a threat, especially during the Thirty Years War. In 1631 the fortress, into which the family of the Margrave had fled, was handed over to General Tilly (imperial side) without fighting. Until the end of the war it remained in the hands of the imperial troops or those in league with them. They survived all blockades and brought havoc to the town during periods, when it was held by the enemy.
The original castle tract was destroyed by a great fire. It was re-erected after the Thirty Years' War. In 1791 the fortress passed into Prussian, in 1802 into Bavarian hands. In 1867 its status as fortress was cancelled and in 1882 the Bavarian king sold it- with the exception of the south wing – to Weissenburg. In the 19th and 20th century it served as prison and refugee camp, Charles de Gaulle being kept here in 1918. After 1945 the castle was renovated and now houses aschool.
The castle chapel has the remarkable tombstone of abbot Wilhelm (died 1449).References:
The famous Italian Medici family have given two queens to France: Catherine, the spouse of Henry II, and Marie, widow of Henry IV, who built the current Luxembourg palace. Maria di Medici had never been happy at the Louvre, still semi-medieval, where the fickle king, did not hesitate to receive his mistresses. The death of Henry IV, assassinated in 1610, left the way open for Marie's project. When she became regent, she was able to give special attention to the construction of an imposing modern residence that would be reminiscent of the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens in Florence, where she grew up. The development of the 25-hectare park, which was to serve as a jewel-case for the palace, began immediately.
The architect, Salomon de Brosse, began the work in 1615. Only 16 years later was the palace was completed. Palace of Luxembourg affords a transition between the Renaissance and the Classical period.
In 1750, the Director of the King's Buildings installed in the wing the first public art-gallery in France, in which French and foreign canvases of the royal collections are shown. The Count of Provence and future Louis XVIII, who was living in Petit Luxembourg, had this gallery closed in 1780: leaving to emigrate, he fled from the palace in June 1791.
During the French Revolution the palace was first abandoned and then moved as a national prison. After that it was the seat of the French Directory, and in 1799, the home of the Sénat conservateur and the first residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, as First Consul of the French Republic. The old apartments of Maria di Medici were altered. The floor, which the 80 senators only occupied in 1804, was built in the middle of the present Conference Hall.
Beginning in 1835 the architect Alphonse de Gisors added a new garden wing parallel to the old corps de logis, replicating the look of the original 17th-century facade so precisely that it is difficult to distinguish at first glance the old from the new. The new senate chamber was located in what would have been the courtyard area in-between.
The new wing included a library (bibliothèque) with a cycle of paintings (1845–1847) by Eugène Delacroix. In the 1850s, at the request of Emperor Napoleon III, Gisors created the highly decorated Salle des Conférences, which influenced the nature of subsequent official interiors of the Second Empire, including those of the Palais Garnier.
During the German occupation of Paris (1940–1944), Hermann Göring took over the palace as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe in France, taking for himself a sumptuous suite of rooms to accommodate his visits to the French capital. Since 1958 the Luxembourg palace has been the seat of the French Senate of the Fifth Republic.