Weikersheim Gardens
The Gardens at Weikersheim Palace. Photo by Niels Schubert







Grand staircase at the Favorite PalaceGrand staircase in the New Palace at Meersburg. Photo by Arnim Weischer

Library of the Wiblingen Monastery. Photo by Arnim Weischer

Extraordinary Rooms on View in SouthWest Germany

Photos courtesy Staatliche Schlosser and Garten Baden-Wurttemberg

One of the special aspects of Southwest Germany, and the state of Baden-Württemberg, are the lavish and ornate castle and palace rooms that have been in existence for centuries. You can step back in time as you gaze at walls, ceilings, paintings, books, tapestries, furniture and décor that is hundreds of years old and yet also appear fresh and untouched.

Preserved with care and attention, many of these special rooms can be found in monasteries, castles and palaces where kings, queens, hunters and craftsmen left their marks. The live theater in Ludwigsburg Palace near Stuttgart, the Porcelain Collection at the Rastatt Palace, the Knights Hall at Weikersheim, the libraries at Wiblingen Monastery and Bebenhausen are just a few of the hidden gems.

Theater fans will delight in the extraordinary stage craft at Palace Ludwigsburg just outside of Stuttgart, while music lovers can hear concerts in the original baroque theater. In 1758, Duke Carl Eugen had a stage and auditorium built into the theater building. Today, it is the oldest preserved palace theater in Europe and still has its original stage machinery. A unique treasure trove of 18th and 19th century background scenery sets is preserved and in working order. Visitors can enjoy the theater as a backstage tour, as part of the normal palace tour or as the setting for a live concert by some of Europe's top performers.

Further south in Baden-Wuerttemberg, the majestic structure of the former Wiblingen Benedictine monastery is the last great baroque structure of the 18th century erected in Upper Swabia, and it is a masterpiece in light colors. The Wiblingen Library Hall is a must for any visitor: lavishly decorated with stucco and paintings. It is an example of rococo architecture at its best. Today, Wiblingen is a suburb of Ulm, the city with the famous Gothic Minster, and where Einstein was born. While here, you should not miss out on the church tower - with a height of approximately 400 feet, the highest in the world.

Rastatt Favorite Palace
Rastatt Favorite Palace. Photo by Arnim Weischer

Rastatt Favorite Palace near Baden-Baden is an outstanding witness to the Baroque Era. It is the only "porcelain palace" in Germany where the baroque interior decoration is preserved in detail in many facets - ranging from the characteristic blue-white tiles through to the ostentatious public rooms. Fine embroideries, flower motifs and porcelain were Sibylla Augusta's focus and ceramics in particular. To house her extensive collection of ceramics, she had a building erected that was solely designed to present these fragile pieces. Today the collection, including several hundred Chinese porcelains and European faiences, still comprises some 1,500 pieces. The highlight of the Sibylla Augusta collection is the world's largest collection of early porcelains from Meissen.

Knight's Hall
Knights Hall, Weikersheim Palace. Photo by Arnim Weischer

The Knights' Hall at Weikersheim Palace, completed circa 1600, is 120 feet long - its wide wooden ceiling has no supporting pillars, and it is actually suspended from a roof truss. The first thing you will notice in the lavishly furnished Knights' Hall are the large animal figures on the walls. These life-like, three-dimensional painted stuccos depict wildlife and game from around the world. They are matched by extraordinary paintings of hunting scenes on the ceiling created between 1601-1602 by Balthasar Katzenberger of Würzburg.

The panoramic setting of the New Palace in Meersburg, the residence of the Prince-Bishops of Constance in the 18th century, is situated above the shores of Lake Constance. Ascending the magnificent staircase, you come to the Bel Étage with its staterooms and private accommodation for the Prince-Bishop. In the 18th century, the palace was primarily visited on account of its natural history collection: the Prince-Bishops compiled a collection of exotic and rare specimens, including mussels and snails brought back by the explorer Thomas Cook from his voyages. Another highlight of the palace is the Lake Terrace, part of the former gardens of the Bishops.

For more information, go to www.schloesser-und-gaerten.de

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