June 30, 2019
On a walking tour of the city of Würzburg, Germany, we first visited the palace of the Prince-Bishop, known informally as the Residenz. The palace was built in Austrian/South German Baroque style, with some influence of the French Style, commissioned by Prince-Bishop of Würzburg, Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn in 1720 and completed in 1744.
When he moved into the first palace constructed, the prince-bishop (these leaders were head of not only the government but also the Church) thought it was rather small – he had fancied something more like the Palace of Versailles outside Paris or Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. Having won a lot of money in a court case, he used the funds to build an edifice that would show off his power and importance.
He was supported in this endeavor by, among others, his uncle the Archbishop of Mainz and his brother who was Imperial Vice-Chancellor of Vienna from 1704 to 1734. These supporters had influence among architects and artists of the time, supplying the project with men of renown to design and decorate the building.
We were not allowed to take photos inside the building, only outside, but I got some splendid shots of doors, facades and gardens outside.
When Johann Philipp Franz died, his successor, Christoph Franz von Hutton, had no interest in such an opulent palace and ordered all work on it to cease. Work began once more under his successor, including the gardens, and was finally finished in 1744.
Inside we viewed the remarkable frescoes by Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, whose techniques make his paintings appear to be 3D.
The palace was heavily damaged by Allied bombing during WWII and restoration has been ongoing since the end of the war. In 1981 the Residenz became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We wandered through the magnificent extensive gardens in back of the Residenz.
From there, I could get better shots of the back of the palace.
I even found an “ex-door”!
It was very hot that day – we were in the middle of a heat wave in Europe – and there was no air conditioning inside the building! After our free time wandering the gardens, our tour group gathered on the front steps of the palace, where a group of teenage girls was practicing some sort of choreographed dance. They were in the shade, but even so, their energy on such a hot day was amazing!
I always enjoy witnessing an activity like this informally done by locals – something tours don’t really show you. Würzburg has several other tourist attractions, including the lovely Cathedral, which I will feature in next week’s Thursday Doors!