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Nearing the end of our European honeymoon, we decided to make a stop in Würzburg, Germany specifically to see the city’s World Heritage-listed palace.
The Würzburg Residence is widely considered to be one of the most important Baroque palaces in Europe. As the former residence of the Würzburg prince-bishops, its design is over-the-top luxurious, exactly what you’d expect to see in a royal palace from the 1700’s.
Inside you’ll find exquisite furniture, rich tapestries, and impressive frescos. Outside, in the Court Garden, you’ll see beautiful sculptures, neatly trimmed hedges, colourful flowers and relaxing fountains. After visiting the extravagant palace, the gardens seem simple in comparison!
Even though the palace is quite large, it didn’t take us very long to tour the building. There are 40 rooms open to the public, but we decided not to visit them all. Our visit was also sped up by the fact that taking pictures is not allowed. I’m always annoyed by this rule, but I more than made up for it with amount the photos I took in the garden!
Our Visit to the Würzburg Residence- Palace Tour and Gardens
Almost immediately after entering the palace, our jaws dropped at the sight of the Residence’s grand staircase. Directly above the stairs was the world’s largest ceiling fresco ever painted. At 18 by 30 metres, the painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo covered the entire vaulted ceiling. The famous fresco was completed in 1753 and depicts representations of four continents- Europe, Africa, America and Asia.
From the staircase, we headed into the Northern Imperial Apartments. These rooms were decorated under Prince-Bishop Friedrich Carl von Schönborn (1729-1746) and are quite opulent. Much of the stucco work was gilded, creating a nice accent for the large tapestries which hung on the walls. My personal favourite room was the Green Lacquered Room. Wow, was it ever rich looking!
Next, we visited the Southern Imperial Apartments, which can only be seen with a guide. The Southern Imperial Apartments were decorated and furnished from 1740 to 1744, also under Prince-Bishop Friedrich Carl von Schönborn.
The most memorable room of the Southern Apartments was the Mirror Cabinet. It’s definitely kitschy by today’s standards, but impressive nonetheless. The entire room was covered in mirrors that had been etched from behind and framed in gold leaf. The Mirror Cabinet was unfortunately destroyed during the bombing raids of 1945, but was meticulously restored between 1979 and 1987 using the original techniques.
Feeling satisfied with having seen the palace’s main rooms, we decided to skip visiting the Court Chapel in favour of spending more time in Court Gardens. I always prefer wandering around palace gardens over visiting the palace itself!
Final Thoughts About the Würzburg Residence
We enjoyed our tour of the Würzburg Residence, but it honestly wasn’t the most memorable palace we visited during our five weeks in Europe and I’m not really sure why. Our experience at others such as the Palace of Versailles in France, Mirabell Palace in Salzburg’s Old Town, and Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna stand out more in my mind. I guess I’ll chalk it up to “palace fatigue!”
The Würzburg Residence may not have been our favourite palace in Europe, but we still think it’s worth seeing on a trip to Bavaria.
Tips for Visiting the Würzburg Residence
- The Würzburg Residence is open from 9:00 am-6:00 pm April-October, and 10:00 am-4:30 pm November-March. Last entry is 30 minutes before closing.
- The Court Gardens are open daily until dusk (8:00 pm at the latest).
- Admission to the palace costs 7.50 euros (children under 18 are free). The gardens and Court Chapel are free.
- Guided tours of the main rooms are included in the admission fee. You can tour the palace on your own if you prefer, but a guide is necessary to visit the Southern Imperial Apartments and Mirror Cabinet. Tours are offered in English and German.
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