Schloss Weißenstein is palatial residence in Pommersfelden, considered a masterwork of Baroque art. In 1710, Lothar Franz von Schönborn, Prince-Bishop of Bamberg and Archbishop of Mainz, inherited the estate after the local family, the Truchsesse of Pommersfelden had died out. He ordered the construction of a palace as a private summer residence, paid for from his personal wealth. A team or architects including Johann Dientzenhofer, who had previously built the Fulda Cathedral, and Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt, the court architect of the Austrian Emperor Karl VI. The Marstall and park were designed by Schönborn's own court architect, Maximilian von Welsch.
The castle was built between 1711 and 1719 from local sandstone materials. The interior art was finished in 1723. After the death of Lothar Franz in 1729, the palace passed to his nephew Friedrich Karl von Schönborn who had the park expanded. A plan by Balthasar Neumann was however, only partially realized. In the early 19th century, the park was transformed from its original Baroque form into an English landscape garden.
During the Seven Years' War the palace was attacked and damaged by Prussian troops. Minor restoration work was done in the late 19th century. More recently, preservation work has been done in 1975 to 2003.
Today Weißenstein remains the property of the Schönborn family. It is considered a Baroque masterwork and the combination of exterior and well-preserved interiors gives it European importance. The palace and its park are open to the public.
The palace contains the largest private Baroque art collection in Germany, containing over 600 pictures. Baroque and Renaissance artists represented include Peter Paul Rubens, Albrecht Dürer, Titian, Rembrandt and Anthony van Dyck.References:
Château de Falaise is best known as a castle, where William the Conqueror, the son of Duke Robert of Normandy, was born in about 1028. William went on to conquer England and become king and possession of the castle descended through his heirs until the 13th century when it was captured by King Philip II of France. Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840 it has been protected as a monument historique.
The castle (12th–13th century), which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of the Dukes of Normandy. The construction was started on the site of an earlier castle in 1123 by Henry I of England, with the 'large keep' (grand donjon). Later was added the 'small keep' (petit donjon). The tower built in the first quarter of the 12th century contained a hall, chapel, and a room for the lord, but no small rooms for a complicated household arrangement; in this way, it was similar to towers at Corfe, Norwich, and Portchester, all in England. In 1202 Arthur I, Duke of Brittany was King John of England's nephew, was imprisoned in Falaise castle's keep. According to contemporaneous chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, John ordered two of his servants to mutilate the duke. Hugh de Burgh was in charge of guarding Arthur and refused to let him be mutilated, but to demoralise Arthur's supporters was to announce his death. The circumstances of Arthur's death are unclear, though he probably died in 1203.
In about 1207, after having conquered Normandy, Philip II Augustus ordered the building of a new cylindrical keep. It was later named the Talbot Tower (Tour Talbot) after the English commander responsible for its repair during the Hundred Years' War. It is a tall round tower, similar design to the towers built at Gisors and the medieval Louvre.Possession of the castle changed hands several times during the Hundred Years' War. The castle was deserted during the 17th century. Since 1840, Château de Falaise has been recognised as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
A programme of restoration was carried out between 1870 and 1874. The castle suffered due to bombardment during the Second World War in the battle for the Falaise pocket in 1944, but the three keeps were unscathed.