One of the largest historic residences in Europe

Mannheim Baroque Palace

Barockschloss Mannheim;  Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Christoph Hermann
One of the largest Baroque residences in Europe

Milestones

In the 18th century, visitors were impressed by the size of the palace. Behind the austere show facade, a rich artistic and scientific life unfolded under Prince-Elector Carl Theodor. In this tradition, Mannheim Palace remains an architectural centerpiece of Mannheim.

The staircase in Mannheim Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Christoph Hermann

The prince-elector added to the palace for more than 40 years.

Baroque residence of the Palatinate House of Wittelsbach

Prince-Elector Carl Phillipp and his successor, Carl Theodor von der Pfalz, added to the second largest Baroque ensemble in Europe for more than 40 years. The elegant interior furnishings, which were created in the late 1820s, were in the newest French fashion. However, the exterior of the palace attracted criticism, as the builders had not complied with contemporary rules of architectural theory. Robert de Cotte, the royal architect of the French king, is said to have reacted simply by shaking his head. Not only the magnificent interior furnishings, but also the sheer size of the complex, were apt to impress.

Allegory of the painting by Johann Phillipp van der Schlichten circa 1729 in the Knights' Hall of Mannheim Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Prince-elector Carl Theodor was a patron of the arts.

Mannheim's "court of muses"

In 18th-century Europe, Mannheim was known as a true "court of muses." The artistic Prince-Elector Carl Theodor was a patron of court music, opera, theater, and the sciences. The Florentine Cosimo Alessandro Collini played an important role. As director of the Natural History Cabinet, he organized the prince-elector's natural and ethnological collections. He also researched the prince-elector's rocks, minerals, and fossils.

Yellow Drawing Room of Mannheim Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Dirk Altenkirch

The grand duchess furnished it in the Empire style.

A second bloom

In the 19th century, the palace experienced its second bloom under the rule of the House of Baden. The Hereditary Grand Duke and Duchess, Carl and Stéphanie von Baden, moved into the former prince-electors; residence. After her husband's death, Stéphanie, an adoptive daughter of Emperor Napoleon, made Mannheim her dower house. Due to her many musical and intellectual interests, she led a modest, but socially popular court. After her death in 1860, the royal household in the palace was dissolved.

Visitors in Mannheim Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Niels Schubert

Since 2007, the palace has sparkled with new splendor.

Rebirth of a palace

Mannheim Palace was severely damaged in World War II. Reconstruction began two years after the war ended. Since the 1950s, the university had made use of the rooms of the former palace. Only a few staterooms had been reconstructed and served as Mannheim's "parlor." The palace garden arranged by Stéphanie in the English style disappeared in the industrialization of the 19th century. However, the magnificent bel étage, the main floor with its original furnishings, was newly stuccoed and opened its doors to guests from all over the world in 2007.

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