The palace, built in the 18th century under the direction of the master builder François de Cuvilliés, was the favorite residence of the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August von Wittelsbach (1700–1761). It is considered a rococo masterpiece. The grand staircase by Balthasar Neumann is outstanding. From 1949 to 1996 Augustusburg served as the representative palace of the Federal President and the Federal Government. Together with the nearby Falkenlust hunting lodge, the rococo complex is a successful synthesis of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden art.
The Brühl castles: facts
|Official title:||Augustusburg and Falkenlust palaces in Brühl|
|Cultural monument:||Rococo castles with garden parterre and English landscape park|
|Country:||Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia|
|Location:||Brühl, southwest of Cologne, between the Rhine and Erft|
|Meaning:||first significant German rococo buildings, models for the palace designs of other German royal courts|
The Brühl castles: history
|1725||Laying of the foundation stone for Augustusburg Castle; Palace construction initially in the hands of Johann Conrad Schlaun (1695-1773)|
|1728||François Cuvilliés new builder|
|1729-40||Laying of the foundation stone and construction of Falkenlust|
|1763||Visit of Mozart on Falkenlust|
|1768||after the death of the client, the elector and archbishop of Cologne and prince-bishop of Münster, Paderborn, Hildesheim and Osnabrück Clemens August (1700-61), completion of Augustusburg Palace|
|after 1980||Restoration of the baroque garden according to plans from 1728|
Baroque architecture celebrates an exuberant festival
For decades, Augustusburg Castle, which is halfway from Bonn to Cologne, served as a festive setting for state receptions by the federal government. Only in these glamorous moments does the building fully fulfill its purpose, as it already served as a backdrop for great celebrations with its exuberant display of splendor at the time it was built in the Baroque era.
The client Clemens August, Elector and Archbishop of Cologne, was – as was customary for clergy and secular gentlemen back then – glorified himself by artists and architects: His monogram is repeatedly found in stucco and painting, his gold bust with a large trophy structure adorns the stairwell, In several halls, the ceiling decorations pay homage to the House of Wittelsbach and his scion Clemens August, who is represented by an obelisk, his coat of arms and the electoral hat.
In search of a suitable master builder for the new building of the archbishop’s residence – the old one had been blown up by French troops in 1689 – the elector chose Johann Conrad Schlaun. This master of the Westphalian variant of the Baroque, who was to develop his architecture primarily in the Münsterland in later years, was responsible for the first construction phase. He included remnants of the previous building, including a round corner tower, in his design and, within three years, created a horseshoe-shaped structure that opens to the east and is surrounded by a moat, based on southern German and Italian models according to softwareleverage.
While Schlaun had tried to preserve the character of the old residence, the Bavarian court architect François Cuvilliés, whom Clemens August 1728 commissioned with the interior design, showed little respect for the achievements of his colleague: he had the moat filled, the round towers razed and designed Without further ado, disregarding the rules of symmetry, the south front, i.e. the outside of the left horseshoe wing, turned into a show front with garden parterre and terrace based on the French Rococo pattern. The garden also appears strictly French, with pebbles in different colors being laid in rather small-area geometric patterns. Of the originally numerous garden structures, only the Falkenlust hunting lodge has been preserved.
A third big name comes up in connection with another chapter in the eventful building history of the Brühl castles: The Bohemian builder Balthasar Neumann, who mainly worked for the prince-bishops of Schönborn in Franconia, but whose fame radiated across Europe, designed in the train In addition to the redesign of the west wing, a new, ingeniously constructed staircase, in addition to a large dining room, which – although smaller in size – can certainly compete with the counterpart in the Würzburg Residence, also designed by Neumann. Neumann was also involved in the luxuriant baroque high altar, which in the originally Gothic court church – connected to the west wing of the castle by a gallery wing since 1735 – attracts attention.
Schlaun, Cuvilliés, Neumann are just the outstanding figures in a whole host of builders, plasterers, sculptors, painters and garden architects who, in a decades-long effort, created a total work of art with the Augustusburg palace complex that appeals to both the mind and the senses.