Nymphenburg Palace and complex near Munich is regarded as a European masterpiece, combining architecture and landscape design in seldom-seen harmony. Visiting Nymphenburg Palace today is like taking a walk through a book of Bavarian history.
The Kings and Electors of Bavaria left their traces here over a period of almost two hundred years. Nymphenburg Palace is located some 6 km north west of the Munich city centre.
The first thing that catches the eye is the perfect beauty of the baroque garden design. Along the middle axis runs a long canal that flows into a great cascade. There is a lovely symmetry between the hedged enclosures, controlled views, straight avenues, pools and parterres that together formed the backdrop for courtly pleasures. This verdant paradise is full of hidden magical places for amorous escapades. The opulent, two-storey Badenburg was the first heated indoor pool of the modern age. A good metre deep, the pool had a marble bench on which people could sit down, enjoy a chat and have refreshments served to them. The walls on the principal floor are made of magnificent marble stucco. The walls above the water level are tiled with blue and white Dutch tiles.
The silver-blue Amalienburg hunting lodge displays all the delicate finesse of the rococo style. The building's function is clear from the richly ornate sculptures. It was used as a hunting lodge during pheasant shooting trips. The domed room at the centre of the building has a remarkable interior. The existence of walls is more or less concealed by the complete absence of any corners, along with the overall decor. The walls are lined entirely with window-sized mirrors surrounded in spectacularly ornate stucco work and interspersed only with windows and doors.
The octagonal Pagodenburg is an example of the mid-18th century fashion for Chinoiserie. At the beginning of the 19th century, the leading landscape gardener Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell transformed the margins of the park into an English landscaped garden with elegant paths and picturesque effects.
Nymphenburg Palace History
The Bavarian Elector Ferdinand Maria commissioned the architect Agostino Barelli to build Nymphenburg Palace in 1664. At the start of the 18th century the building was extended on both sides, with residential pavilions connected by galleries being added. The exterior was remodelled in the French style and the modest palace transformed into a large, elegant summer residence. Elector Max III Joseph ordered the rooms to be redesigned. Highlights include the Bavarian rococo Stone Hall, which is several storeys high and was built under Johann Baptist Zimmermann and Francois de Cuvilliés the Elder.
Between 1729 and 1758, the large palace complex was extended out towards the city with the addition of a grand semicircle of baroque mansions. The Gallery of Beauties built by Ludwig I features 36 portraits of attractive ladies from Munich society painted by Joseph Stieler – including the King's mistress, dancer Lola Montez. Also well worth seeing is the room where Ludwig II, the enigmatic “fairytale king”, was born. A visit to the Marstall museum with its royal coaches and carriages gives some idea of the lavish lifestyle of Nymphenburg's former residents. The carriages on display are an impressive blend of technological advances and the arts of textiles, sculpture, gilding and painting. On the floor above, there is an exquisite collection of porcelain featuring fragile objects of beauty from the Nymphenburg porcelain works, which was founded in 1747 and is still there today.
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