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Ludwigsburg Palace (Schloss Ludwigsburg)


Ludwigsburg Palace (Schloss Ludwigsburg) in the town of Ludwigsburg, just north of Stuttgart is a splendid castle built between 1704 and 1733. It is the largest preserved Baroque residence in Germany.

Ludwigsburg Palace Facts & History

There is much to admire in this palace with its eighteen buildings containing four hundred fifty-two rooms. Known as the "Swabian Versailles," it was built by Eberhard Ludwig Duke of Württemberg to serve as a hunting lodge, but, in 1718, it became the official state residence.

Under Eberhard Ludwig, the architecture was Austro-Hungarian and the decor was Baroque. He was followed by Carl Alexander Duke of Württemberg, then Duke Carl Eugen. The latter added apartments in the French Rococo style, but the royal residence moved back to Stuttgart in 1775. Later came Duke Friedrich II who wanted to use Ludwigsburg as his summer palace. Napoleon made the duke "king" in 1803, and King Friedrich had many of the palace rooms redecorated in the Empire style.

Take a tour (one kilometer in length), and marvel at the numerous rooms in all three periods. The Ludwigsburg Castle was not used for some two hundred years, but its contents were preserved.

Eberhard Ludwig, after whom the palace is named, wanted the castle built as a refuge for himself and his mistress, Wilhelmine von Grävenitz, who was, politically, a powerful figure in those days, but disliked by the palace court with whom she butted heads. Back then, marriage was based on politics not love, and all the royalty had mistresses.

Eberhard Ludwig lived in Ludwigsburg with Wilhelmine for twenty-five years, until the court became worried that he had no legal heir. His one legitimate son had died. He was pressured into leaving Wilhelmine, to bring his wife to Ludwigsburg and to have a child, but, alas, she was fifty-three by that time, and no child was conceived.

During Eberhard's day only three hundred thousand people lived in all of Württemberg, so it is amazing that such a sumptuous palace could be financed. It was a monumental undertaking, as the land was not flat and had to be laboriously filled in with carts of dirt. Hundreds of workers lived around the building site in tents. To entice people to settle in Ludwigsburg, Eberhard offered them free land, building material and no tax payments for fifteen years. By 1718, the town of Ludwigsburg was founded.

Included among the highlights of the tour is the Marble Hall whose beautiful walls were made of synthetic marble, which, because it required seventeen different steps to make, was far more expensive than the real thing. The King's waiting room has an exquisite Baroque ceiling created by Italian artists, who were the best at that time and responsible for much of the palace's decoration. The King's audience room, in the Empire style, features benches with an Egyptian motif revealing the influence of Napoleon. A large portrait of King Friedrich, a man immense in stature -- six feet, ten inches tall and weighing four hundred forty pounds -- is a major attraction in the King's conference room.

Part of the tour includes a glimpse of the cave-like servants' quarters, which are very dark with no windows. In Friedrich's day, more than one thousand servants were employed at Ludwigsburg. An entourage of higher-ranking servants dressed the king every day, a ritual that lasted one and one half hours.

Back in those days, water was considered unhealthy. Instead of bathing in water, the royalty bathed in perfume. And, instead of drinking water, they drank wine, three to four liters of wine per person per day. If that seems unbelievable, take a peek in the palace wine cellar where rows of wooden barrels have the capacity to store two hundred thousand liters of wine. One gargantuan barrel holds ninety thousand liters -- enough so that if one drinks only one liter of wine every day from birth, he would need to live to be some two hundred forty-six years old to empty this barrel of its contents.

The most famous artists from throughout Europe were brought to entertain the guests of the Ludwigsburg Palace. The palace theater, built in 1750 entirely of wood, has three tiers of seats. It was lit with oil lamps and candles, and servants stood by with buckets of water in case of fire. The background scenery was changed mechanically and the mechanism, which was very modern for its day, still functions. Performances were said to have lasted between five and seven hours, but the audience would come and go freely during the theatrical presentations.

As the theater was too small to stage operas, Carl Eugen had an opera hall constructed, but it, unfortunately, no longer exists.

The palace has two chapels. Its Baroque chapel is popular today for weddings. However, one must be Catholic and a resident of Ludwigsburg to tie the knot in the royal church.

Throughout the palace are ancient Oriental vases, desks, and cabinets of intricate inlaid wood, illusionist paintings and porcelain figurines and flowers. Real flowers wilt, and in that state were considered a sign of death, so no real flowers ever filled the Ludwigsburg vases.

However, there were plenty of real flowers outside. Even today, the thirty hectares of gardens that surround the palace are a major attraction. They host a continual garden show from March until October called "Blooming Baroque," with all sorts of flowers including roses, as well as fountains, hedges, flower ornaments, and flower borders. There are herb gardens and Japanese gardens, even aviaries housing exotic birds. One section of the garden is a playground with play equipment from long ago, including an ancient merry-go-round and a Russian swing.

Ludwigsburg Palace Visitor Info:

Residential Palace Opening Times:

  • Mon to Sun between 10.00 - 17,00

The Museums, including: Baroque Gallery, Fashion Museum, Ceramics Museum, Carl Eugen’s apartments:

  • Mon to Sun between 10.00 - 17,00

*Note: the last entry is one hour before closing time.

Ticket Info:

  • Residential Palace: 6,5 € full price / 3,3 € reduced / family ticket 16,3 €
  • Museum (+ audio guide): 3,5 € full price / 1,8 € reduced / family ticket 8,8 €
  • Museum Tour (including all museums + audio guide): 6.5 € full price / 3.3 € reduced / family ticket 16.3 €

Discounted tickets for groups:

  • Residential Palace: Special guided tours (max. 10 persons) 130 €
  • Museum (+ audio guide) Groups over 20 Persons 3.1 €
  • Museums tour (all museums + audio tour) Groups over 20 or more, 5,8 € pp

Contact details:

Official website: schloss-ludwigsburg.de
Phone: +49(0) 71 41 / 18 20 04     
Fax: +49(0) 71 41 / 18 64 34
Email: info@schloss-ludwigsburg.de

 

Ludwigsburg Palace Map&Location

Ludwigsburg Palace Address: Schlossstraße 30, 71634 Ludwigsburg, Germany. Get help with directions using this map:


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Schloss Ludwigsburg Photos

Photos © D Petzold - Click on the photos to enlarge

Ludwigsburg Palace courtyard

Ludwigsburg Palace and garden

Ludwigsburg Palace panorama
Ludwigsburg Palace garden © D Petzold
 
Photos © Ann Buchanan

Schloss Ludwigsburg panorama

Schloss Ludwigsburg garden
Schloss Ludwigsburg park

Schloss Ludwigsburg interior

Schloss Ludwigsburg interior

Schloss Ludwigsburg room

Schloss Ludwigsburg room
Schloss Ludwigsburg courtyard © Ann Buchanan
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