One of the largest historic residences in Europe

Mannheim Baroque Palace

Erstes Vorzimmer in Schloss Mannheim;  Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Christoph Hermann
Baroque facade, changing rooms

History of design

Mannheim Palace was created in the Baroque era, and so it remains today: a symbol of power made stone. In the interior, subsequent generations changed the furnishings, from the Baroque originals to Rococo and Empire, and even the Historicism of the 19th century.

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

The palace offered space for courtly ceremonies.

Baroque: the time of Prince-Elector Carl Phillip

Between 1720 and 1742, Prince-Elector Carl Phillip built the extensive complex in the Baroque style as his stage for ceremonies and representation. The undisguised demonstration of power was typical for the time: The palace dominates the entire city. The facades and roofs of the palace bear coats of arms, monograms, and trophies, all references to the high status of the palace lords in the empire. The interior rooms, with their elaboration stucco decoration and heroic ceiling paintings, were designed specifically for representation purposes.

Rococo: the time of Carl Theodor and Elisabeth Auguste

From 1742 to 1760, Prince-Elector Carl Theodor continued to add to the palace. As of 1750, he had some rooms furnished in the style of the Rococo. Furniture from this time can now be seen in the palace once again. The cabinet library of Electress Elisabeth Auguste from 1755, which has been preserved in the original, is Rococo of the highest level. The room was designed as a whole: elegant ornamentation and pastel paintings combine into an impression of playful ease, typical for the Rococo.

Porträtkartuschen im Bibliothekskabinett von Schloss Mannheim;  Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele
Porträtkartuschen im Bibliothekskabinett von Schloss Mannheim;  Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

Delicate Rococo cartouches decorate the Library Cabinet.

Music Room in Mannheim Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Dirk Altenkirch

Stéphanie liked furniture in the Empire style.

Classicism under Grand Duchess Stéphanie

In 1806, Stéphanie, the adoptive daughter of Napoleon, and her husband, Carl, heir to the throne of Baden, moved into the palace. With her, the imperial archetypes of the French empire style came to Mannheim. Broad shapes reminiscent of the architecture of antiquity or Egyptian motifs characterize the rooms and furnishings: columns and austere decorative friezes, like a Greek temple or sphinxes and palms on furniture. The dominant materials are warming shimmering mahogany and black ebony, gilded bronze and, on the walls, colorful damask wall coverings.

Library Cabinet in Mannheim Palace, historical photograph circa 1897. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Hubert Hill

New tastes meant new furniture.

Historicism as of 1840

Grand Duchess Stéphanie lived in Mannheim Palace so long that, towards the end of her time as a widow, she participated in the next style of architecture and furniture. As of 1840, Historicism came into fashion. This 19th-century style worked with and imitated archetypes from earlier eras. The furniture became rounder and more elaborate, even reaching back to Baroque shapes. In some cases, furniture from the 18th century could simply be repainted, re-upholstered, and reused.

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