About an hour's drive from Frankfurt, Germany, located in Northern Bavaria, is the city of Würzburg. Situated on the Main River, the city has many appealing points of interest, including the Marienberg Fortress, the Würzburg Cathedral, some of the oldest vineyards in Germany, and a palace simply known as the Residence (or Residenz Würzburg).
The Prince-Bishops of Würzburg ordered the construction of the Residence in the early eighteenth century after they grew weary of their living quarters in the Marienberg Fortress. Additions to the grand palace continued for nearly 100 years.
The front of the Residence with the Marienberg Fortress and Cathedral in the distance. Photo by Erin Connelly
The decades of construction and decoration have produced one of the most lavish and stunning palaces in Germany. There are many rooms to tour, but particular highlights include the Garden Hall, the Courtyard Gardens, and the grand staircase with a frescoed ceiling by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
The Garden Hall is striking for its beautiful painted ceiling, which depicts a pastoral scene. The gardens surrounding the Residence are laid out in the formal, highly manicured style typical of the eighteenth century. Further away from the Residence, the gardens incorporate a more wild composition of forests and pasture land. The gardens are open all year round until sunset (as late as 8pm during the summer) and the fountains are switched on even during the cold winter months.
Garden Fountain in January. Photo by Erin Connelly.
The great staircase is made even more stunning by the fresco on the ceiling. The artist incorporated people, cultural elements, and animals associated with Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. As it was completed in the mid-eighteenth century, the artist was unfamiliar with many of the animals from more exotic locations and relied on written descriptions. This led to anomalies in the painting, such as an ostrich with hugely muscular legs. Having never seen a large bird that could run at great speeds, the artist naturally assumed the animal would have enormous legs.
The Residence is easily accessible by car or public transport. See the official website for complete details. The Residence is open April-October 9am-6pm and November-March 10am-4.30pm. Regular entrance fee is 7.50 euros.