The Hall of Mirrors is considered by experts to be the finest example of Rococo interior design ever created. This truly impressive round room is decorated in silver and light blue, the colors of Bavaria. Long mirrors and windows are surrounded by silver colored stucco (Johann Baptist Zimmerman) with hunting scenes in great detail. The room is bright with windows on two walls and doors on the remainder. The ceiling is similarly covered in silver filigree. ( Images 1,2 ).
The Ruhezimmer or Resting Room is decorated in yellow and silver and features oils of Karl Albrecht and Mary Amalia both in hunting gear with a canopied rest bed. ( Images 3,4,5 ).
One small interesting room is the indoor kennel kept by the Electress for her favorite hunting dogs. The Hunting Room, also in yellow and silver, features oils of various royal hunts through the surrounding forests ( see Travelogue ).
The Amalienburg Lodge is at some distance from the main palace, not visited by tour busses, and almost devoid of visitors. Well worth a detour for these exquisite rooms.
Looking to us like a jewel box set in a forest, the Amalienburg palace is a single story hunting lodge built between 1734-39 by the French trained court architect Francois de Cuvilles. HRE Karl Albrecht Wittelsbach built this lodge for his wife Mary Amalia, who fancied herself a hunter. Over the front entrance ( not in use ) note the sculpture of the huntress Diana with a group of satyrs. On the roof, note the circular wrought iron enclosure. Mary Amalia would sit inside the circle and wait for her beloved dogs and her servants to flush birds from the surrounding forest. Then she would kill them as they flew by. Otherwise, and in keeping with typical rococo design principles, the exterior of the building is quite unadorned.
Rococo was a popular design form in the early 18th Century, originating in France but reaching its apogee in Germany. De Cuvilles, who was the Wittelsbach house architect, received his training in France but worked almost exclusively in Bavaria. The rococo style retained the ornate embellishments of baroque but differed in that the wall decorations were almost flush with the wall rather than sticking way out. Windows tend to be very tall with decorations above but not on the side. Glass and mirror play an important role in rococo design.
The former court riding school and stables at Nymphenburg now houses the chariot museum and the exquisite Bauml porcelain collection. The manufacturing company was founded by Elector Max III Joseph in 1747 and the displays document the beautiful works produced through 1920. In-house porcelain factories were an important accoutrement for German royal families and the Wittelsbachs were no exception in their desire for fit-for-royalty service plates, decorative items, and particularly porcelain miniatures of famous old master paintings. These dinner plate sized reproductions were commissioned by Ludwig I who feared everything from fire destroying the originals to age decreasing the colors. Many of these items can be seen in the Residenz, but the collection assembled by Albert Bauml who supervised the factory in the early 20th Century is as spectacular as any. It emphasizes the early work of Franz Bustelli, one of the earliest and most famous creators. Bauml found the factory falling behind in the style and upgraded the artistry. The factory ( image 4) on the periphery of the palace grounds is currently leased to a Wittelsbach trust by the Bavarian Government.
Franz Anton Bustelli, Swiss by birth, was a master in porcelain design. He of course made the requisite catholic figures like crucifixions but was far better known for the lively facial expressions and occasional soft-porn figures. The details of movement and the life-like faces we found mesmerizing. This museum is not large but contains some beautiful work.
The south wing of Nymphenberg is considerably more famous than the north, mostly because of Ludwig I Gallery of Beauties (Schonheitsgalerie)(images 1,2), oils of 36 beautiful women drawn from all classes ranging from royalty to a shoemaker's daughter. His involvement with Lola Montez, one of the women pictured, led to his abdication during the revolution of 1848. These were painted between 1827-50 by Stieler. The Blue Salon is filled with original furniture dating to 1810 (image 3). The green rooms are the bedrooms of the Electress, dating to Queen Caroline (images 4,5).
The North Wing of Nymphenburg was occupied by the Elector on the summer vacations over several generations. Less opulent than the southern wing, it is noteworthy for wall tapestries from Brussels dating to the early 18th Century (images 1,2). There are two galleries with paintings of women - the Wittlesbachs did love those ladies. Max Emanuel is responsible for the oils of nine women who shared his exile in Paris. Also, from the court of Ludwig XIV, five paintings of women of the court are in another room (image 3). The rich furniture of this wing is depicted on the last photo.
The most impressive room in the Palace is the central 3 storey Stone Hall used for banquets and celebrations in royal times and now occasionally for concerts. The motif is from Roman mythology, the nymph Flora - goddess of flowers and the spring season. She was not an important player in Roman times ( there were several fertility goddesses available ), but was a popular subject among Renaissance artists. She was associated with renewal of life in the spring ( appropriate for the origin of the palace ) and married to Favonius, the west wind god. The ceiling is covered by frescoes featuring Flora as depicted by the ubiquitous Johann Baptist Zimmerman. Architecture and decoration were by Francois Cuvillies, so important in the Residenz. The center is dominated by a huge chandelier.
The Stone Hall is a beautiful room, well worth a few minutes of detailed attention. The rear opens up to a vista of the large formal park and canal, the front ( covered on our visit ) faces the ponds.
Three miles north of Munich center, this huge Baroque palace was commissioned by Elector Ferdinand Maria as a gift to his consort Henriette Adelaide of Savoy after the birth of a son and heir to the Wittelsbach dynasty in 1664. The rectangular central section was completed in 1675 in the style of an Italian Villa. The heir, Max Emanuel, added 4 large pavilions also in the Italianate style, but later additions over 100 years were more Baroque and gradually the palace was made over. The grand circle ( Schlossrondel) was added by HRE Charles VII Albert. The court stables were added in 1715 and further predominantly interior renovations were later made by Elector Max III Joseph and the Kings Ludwig I and II.
The 200 acre park, originally Italian in style, was redesigned as an English garden in the early 19th Century, but the long central canal and lakes were preserved. Numerous pavilions were scattered throughout the park including the most famous Amalienburg.
The palace today offers 16 rooms for public view but remains the home of the head of the Wittelsbach family, now a commoner but still called HRH Franz, Duke of Bavaria.
VISITING THE PALACE --- The Nymphenberg Palace is best seen as an individual visitor, easily accessed from Stachus and the main train station on tram 17 offering a nice glimpse of modern Munich along the way. There is then a long one block walk along the tree shaded canal which extends 2 km into central Munich and the adjacent street to the Grand Circle and around to the entrance, a lovely 10 minute walk. We observed the tour busses dropping their sheep for a 20 minute visit to two or three rooms in the main palace and gone again - NOT the right way to visit this this world class complex. At the corner of the tram stop for the return is a delightful little cafe and bakery shop with a largely local clientele and a nice assortment of excellent pastries and good coffee.
The 200 acre Nymphenburg park began as a small garden near Henriette Adelaide's summer cottage and is now comprised of a large English style garden with residual Baroque features and a large wooded area containing scattered pavilions. In 1701 Max Emanuel hired Charles
Carbonet to create a park in the style of Versailles. He created the great canal which bisects the property and draws water from the Wurm River 2 km away. Other streams and canals were routed through the wooded sections of thepark.
Court Architect Joseph Effner completed the canal around 1715 and added a number of water features as well as plan the heavily wooded parts of the park. The Large Pool with the statue of Flora and the ornamental flower beds were laid out at this time as well.
In the late18th Century, English style gardens became the most popular form and Friedrich Ludwig von Sckell was hired to transform the park. He retained the central axis but refined the gardens and paths. He also lowered the fences at the periphery so that the sight lines from the park extended far beyond the property. His plan has remained unchanged to the present time.
We took a short train trip from our hotel to Schloss Nymphenburg, the palace that Duke Ferdinand Maria built for his wife in 1675. I imagine this is beautiful in the summer when the gardens are in full bloom however, it was really beautiful in the winter. We had to walk a short distance from the train to the palace and as we got closer we could see dozens of swans in a frozen pond in front of the castle. The ornamentation, architecture and furnishings are really spectacular. I got a couple of photos before an angry fellow told me I couldn't take any photos. (I should have known better). Behind the palace is where the formal french gardens are as well as an 1j8th century canal. We spend a good hour just walking the grounds out back, even though it was snowing and very cold. I don't know how many acres it covered, but it was just beautiful in the winter. There was also a small hunting lodge on the grounds and an old orangery that is now a cafe that we stopped in to have chocolate fondue and a drink. The orangery was decorated for Christmas in gold, pink and white and there were beautiful pale purple orchids on the tables with linen. Spectacular view of the grounds. The museum here was first rate. Loads of history and interesting stuff. Even my teenagers were amazed. Don't miss this!
It is in the south wing where the intrigue of royalty becomes apparent if you know your history.
The famous "Gallery of Beauties" of Ludwig I with portraits of 36 beautiful women from all levels of Munich society is shown in the first two pics. These actually used to be in the city palace, the Residenz, but were moved here in 1945.
These include the dancer, Lola Montez, whose attractions proved irresistible to the king and were to contribute to his eventual downfall. It was the cause of the revolution in 1848, when Ludwig I was forced to abdicate.
She was an extraordinary lady, having been born in Ireland before heading to India. Later she accompanied Franz Lizt to Paris and pretended to be Spanish. Ludwig I was besotted with her while his wife, Therese, was, shall we say, less than happy with the affair.
In the first pic, note the central lady on the right. She is Katherine Bozzaris, daughter of Greed freedom fighter, Marcos, who died in a battle against the Turks in 1823 when she was only 3 years old. Her brother was raised in Munich. Ludwig supported the Greeks and, as a consequence, his second son Otto got the crown of Greek monarch.
The fourth picture is from the 1st Antechamber and depicts Ceres, the goddess of agriculture.
In the anteroom and bedroom there are ceiling paintings by A. D. Triva, "Chinese Varnished Chamber" (redesigned by Cuvillies the Elder in 1763-64) and the gallery of paintings of Bavarian castles (ca. 1750).
I had two must-sees at Munich, Schloss Nymphenburg and the Deutches Museum. First cab off the rank was Nymphenburg.
The anticipation while taking the tram was exciting. Drifting through new suburbs to what I expected to be a highlight of my German trip.
It doesn't take up a single city block. No, it makes a massive semi-circle around what would roughly be two city blocks before the main building and then, naturally enough, there's the small garden out the back. I looked down the main track astride the elongated lake in the garden for about two kilometres and noted some tree blocking further vision. Whether or not that was the end of it I have no idea. It's massive. Remember, the equestrian events of the Olympic Games were held here.
However, inside is yet another splendid example of the baroque lavishness that adorns so many European palaces, this one obviously influenced by the French.
Again, from my email:
"The Schloss Nymphenberg has a museum area where all the extravagantly baroque and rococo carriages are displayed, along with a myriad of harnesses, each one worth more than my nephew Brian's three horses combined, not that they would ever adorn anything equine again."
The Marstall Museum in the south wing of the castle were the former court stables and, to put it mildly, it has an interesting collection of ceremonial carriages, sleighs, harnesses and saddlery that recalls the heyday of the Wittelsbachs. The most famous exhibit is the splendid carriage of Ludwig II.
At times it seems like a case of gilding gone mad as it overlays the rococo extravagance of the carriages.
The second pic is of an interesting sleigh. This is of the "First Nymph Sleigh of Ludwig II" and, when it was trundled out amongst the masses it created much interest because, on the front, there were lights powered by, wait for it, batteries. Big deal I hear you think. Today, yes, you'd be right but in those times they were virtually unheard of and it was a mystery to most how the lights actually worked.
Of course, it's not enough to have a sumptuous palace. When guests arrive you have to have items dotted around here and there to impress said guests.
This is but a brief sampling of such items.
The first item is the writing cabinet of Elector Carl Theodor installed around 1795 when the final extensions were added to the already huge Nymphenburg.
Picture four is a bust by Verschaffelt, the father of the architect while the last snap shows some of the massive tapestries, Flemish of course, from Brussels and they took 10 years to manufacture. They depict Diana, the goddess of hunting and are hung in the Audience Chamber.
The third shot is a wonderful urn commemorating the battle of Austerlitz. The Bavarian regent's alignment with Napoleon served to increase the size of the Bavarian influence.
(Palace Cafe in the Palm House)
I quote here from an email I sent home:
"On entering through the red velvet curtains I note the restaurant is surrounded indeed by palms and cacti beneath the 8 metre high ceilings from which drop exquisite miniature chandeliers.
When seated I revel in the fact that I am excluded from the classic winter-wind-blown pewter sky outside by the floor to ceiling glass that admits warming though filtered rays of the sun that only serves to highlight the splendour of the orchids that adorn each table.
At room's end a 4 metre high portrait of Prince Ludwig mounted on horseback catches the eye but I am distracted at once by the waitress, immaculately attired in basic black, as she serves my hot chocolate, though such a term seems inadequate for the silver service that bears a covered pot of the beverage with two small stainless steel jugs of cream either side and one's cup and saucer and the opposite end.
She next brings my assorted filets served with embellishments and a side salad in separate bowl. She, with a most charming smile, begs, nay, entreats, "You enjoy"; to which I reply, "I have yet to taste but I'm enjoying already."
Their feature dish is a chocolate fondue. Mounted atop is a mouth watering bowl of the rich brown liquid in the Spanish style whilst beneath are arrayed an assortment of biscuits such as royalty would find adequate. Sadly I am sated after the main dish but, on this you can rely, I shall return!"
Yes, what more can I add than if you want to indulge yourself a little in Munich than you could do worse than spend some time dining here.
The Amalienburg, a hunting lodge built by Francois Cuvillies in about 1740, is considered to be a perfect example of court Rococo architecture. The circular Hall of Mirrors (with silver ornament on a blue background) with its symbolic hunting scenes is quite unique. Personally I thought it was an example of overkill, but who am I to judge what you do with wealth?
Picture one was actually used in the magazine article mentioned earlier.
Along with the Rest Room and Hunting Room with their silver and gold decoration, the kitchen is decorated with brightly colored Dutch tile paneling with blue and white decoration while between the panels are multi-coloured still lifes of flowers with animals. (pics 3-5) The rear wall was used as a commode, with a toilet chair concealed behind its folding doors.