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One of the largest historic residences in Europe

Mannheim Baroque Palace

Luftansicht von Schloss Mannheim;  Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende
An impressive palace ensemble

The buildings

After Versailles, Mannheim Palace is the second largest Baroque ensemble in Europe and was planned by three French architects. It consists of a central three-winged building, two side wings, and additional huge palace wings. The largest of them is the "snail building."

Exterior view of Mannheim Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Christoph Hermann

The central space in the central building is the staircase.

Rooms for the prince-elector and emperor in the central building

When entering the wide main courtyard, visitors are first struck by the soaring central building of the palace, the "corps de logis." The central building and central pavilion are four stories tall. In the western area of the bel étage, the elegant second story, was the prince-elector's apartment. The eastern bel étage housed the imperial apartment, a state apartment for important guests. Both living areas could be reached via the magnificent staircase in the central pavilion.

Library Cabinet of Electress Elisabeth Auguste, historical photograph circa 1897. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Hubert Hill

The electress had her own living quarters.

The west wing: where the electress stayed

The prince-elector's apartment was connected to the west wing and the electress' living quarters. Divided from these two areas by a staircase, the former "Cologne Quarters" is next. In 1742, this is where the Archbishop of Cologne, Clemens August, lived, which is why the rooms bear this name. The right corner of the west wing connected to another large wing: This is where the palace chapel and the apartment for the Dukes of Pfalz-Zweibrücken, close relatives of a Wittelsbach branch line, were located.

Hofbibliothek des Kurfürsten in Schloss Mannheim, historische Fotografie um 1897; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Hubert Hill
Detail der Hofbibliothek des Kurfürsten in Schloss Mannheim, historische Fotografie um 1897; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Hubert Hill

The magnificent royal library was located in the eastern side wing of Mannheim Baroque Palace.

The eastern wing: plenty of space for emperors and cavaliers

The "imperial apartment" was named after a visit from Emperor Karl VII in 1742. Like its counterpart in the west, the east wing flanks the main courtyard and has three stories. The part of this wing facing the city housed the cavalier rooms. Here, too, another wing was connected, which stretched to the east and in a side pavilion—analog to the palace church in the west—contained the royal library. Additional halls were intended for the portrait gallery and the Natural History Cabinet.

Aerial view of Mannheim Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende

The snail building has been preserved.

A home for horses and the lovely arts

Behind the show front constructed facing the city, there were additional buildings: In the east, the four-winged "snail building" with stalls for approximately 300 horses, a riding track, and service apartments. In the west, the ballroom and the prince-elector's royal opera were located in a rear building. While the snail building has been preserved and is now used by the University of Mannheim, the ballroom and royal opera burned down in 1795 during the defense of Mannheim against the French.

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