Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Schloss Ludwigsburg Part 1: The Palace


On August tenth, we grabbed some friends, jumped in our Jeep and hit the road.  An hour of confusing directions later, we arrived in Ludwigsburg, home to one of the largest Baroque palaces in Germany.  Having done copious amounts of research over the last week, I was well prepared.  We marched up to the entry booth and ordered four Combi-Tickets.  At sixteen euros each, it was a hefty price, but the palace grounds are immense.  We had set aside the entire day to explore the complex, which encompasses not one, but two palaces (tours included in ticket price), two museums, a small castle, extensive gardens, and a small petting zoo, among other things.

Our first glimpse of the palace was impressive.  It dwarfed my only comparison, the much smaller residence at Schwetzingen, by far.  The main palace is made up of a series of buildings set in a square around a cobblestone courtyard, and surrounded by stunning gardens on all sides.  The facade is painted a cheery, pastel yellow that I can't help but acquaint with cold hard boiled eggs, and out front is a massive fountain (more are hidden throughout the shrubbery) that bubbles invitingly.  The gardens are immaculate.  Though we didn't spy a single gardener, I imagine it takes dozens to keep the grounds so beautiful and pristine.



 
Bees buzzed from blossom to blossom and tourists sat to dip their feet into the shallow water, all while puffy white clouds lazily drifted overhead.  It was idyllic, picturesque.  Statues littered the grounds and clung to any available surface of the palace.  There was something beautiful around every corner.  It quickly became clear why our ticket was good for two consecutive days.  We spent our entire first hour combing the front gardens and circling the main residence.  (I'm sure it didn't help our schedule that I was stopping for a photograph every ten feet.)
 

 


At one point while we wandered the grounds, I kept repeating, "It's just all so pretty!"  Truthfully, I never thought to find such beauty in Germany.  Before I moved here, I knew virtually nothing about this place.  The only stories I'd ever heard of Germany or its people had their roots in my great-grandfather's war stories.  He fought almost the entire duration of WWII, so my expectations were a little skewed.  Before my first visit, around Christmastime in 2009, on some subconscious level, I expected to step off the plane and find myself in a rubble-strewn war zone rather than in this gorgeous, vibrant, history-filled wonderland.  Admittedly, a quick google search had prepared me for scattered castle ruins and the majestic Cologne Cathedral, but those things are only a tiny fraction of what Germany has to offer.  Every day I spend here I am astounded at my past ignorance.

But I digress.

 

"Ludwigsburg" literally means "Ludwig's Castle."  Lots of "Ludwigs" crop up in German history.  This one was Eberhard Ludwig of  Württemberg, reigning monarch between 1693 and 1733. The palace he commissioned began as a hunting lodge, but eventually grew to become the principal royal palace of the Kingdom of Württemberg from the 18th century until 1918.  Ludwigsburg was completed during the final year of his reign.

A decade later, Ludwig's successor had a new palace built in Stuttgart, and over the years fickle monarchs would flip flop between Ludwigsburg and newer constructions.  However, Ludwigsburg avoided destruction during WWII, so in the mid-20th century the palace was nurtured back to its glorious state, and the Blühendes Barock (Blooming Baroque) summer garden show began in 1953.  Today Ludwigsburg is a beloved tourist destination, a shining example of Baroque and Rococo style architecture.



 
 

We spent so long admiring the palace from the outside that we missed the only English tour.  Our group was feeling adventurous, so we decided to give the German version a go.  A tour guide provided us with flyers in our nattive language which highlighted the important features in each room, and we set off to explore the inside. 

We didn't emerge for over two hours. 

However enormous the palace may look from outside, trust me, it is bigger.  I was thankful for our guide, because left to wander on our own we would surely have been lost.  Hidden servants' corridors and maids' rooms complicate the floor plans, and the elegant main rooms could have held my attention for hours.  Everything from door frames to chandelier chains was a work of art, dripping with gold, silver and velvet.  Though we struggled to catch even the gist of our fast-talking guide's narration, we were all glad to have seen this royal home.



I could not have enjoyed my day at Schloss Ludwigsburg more. Stay tuned for Part 2, in which I share photos of the second palace on the grounds, an adorable baby goat, and the "Fairy Tale Garden."

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I don't know if you remember but my blog used to be called "My Solace". I kind of left the blogging world and now I'm back. You must be having a wonderful visiting all these lovely places! You look so happy:) Thanks again and I'm so glad to be reading your blog again:)
    Aly xx

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    1. The title rings a bell...but I don't remember specifics. Sorry! Your new blog is lovely though! And I'm glad to have you back! :)

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  2. first of all, i lovelovelove the description of the color as cold hard boiled eggs. the entire time i was reading i kept thinking, "that was such a great comparison! i wish i thought of that."

    beautiful pictures, as always. totally worth putting you guys behind schedule.

    oh, and hidden servants corridors and maids' rooms sound awesome. ridiculously "rich people" but great inspiration for stories. i would have loved to explore those. the whole thing sounds like a fascinating place to visit.

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    1. Sarah, I thought "eggs!" as soon as I saw the palace. I have no idea why. It's such an odd comparison, but spot on also.

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  3. This is stunning....... it's hard to imagine people living there... it's just so magnificent that it must have felt like a museum to them. Wow.

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    1. I am just shocked at how long it would take someone to walk from one end of the house from the other. It was massive! It's a good thing there were maids to bring the family meals, you could have gotten lost on the way to the kitchen.

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