Munich’s Wittelsbach Royal Summer House
Munich’s Nymphenburg Palace is one of the main attractions to visitors to the city for its Baroque splendor and formal gardens. Schloss Nymphenburg was for most of its practical life the summer time residence of the rulers of Bavaria. Located in the Neuhausen suburb to the west of Munich, about a 20 minute tram ride from the old town center, it was at the time of its first construction at the end of long carriage road into the wooded country, where it’s long pool and fountains framed the grand approach to main hall and added galleries. Begun 1675 as a present to his wife by the Elector Ferdinand Maria, when Bavaria was duchy and not yet a kingdom, then added to by five generation of the powerful Wittelsbachs who combined rule over large portions of Germany under one family, (see Benrath Palace Dusseldorf). The Nymphenburg Palace is still a royal home to the current head of the Wittelsbach family, the Duke of Bavaria (see Museum of Bavarian Kings Schwangau).
Maximillian I and Ludwig II
Maximillian I, who built Bavaria onto a kingdom gave out his last breath at Nymphenburg and his great-grandson, King Ludwig II (the “mad” one), who built the later Bavarian country palaces of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof and Chimensee was born there.. Ludwig II’s birth room is one of the favorite sights of the Palace. The other principal attractions of the Nymphenburg Palace are the banquet hall with its high ceiling of fresco paintings, just inside the entrance. In the south wing is perhaps the palace’s most famous feature, the “Gallery of Beauties”. A room adorned with portraits of the various daughters and wives of Bavarian royalty, some of them quite beautiful and some - a little less so.
For the more sensational, look here for the portrait of Lola Montez, the tabloid queen of her time. Born in Ireland as Lola Gilbert to the illegitimate daughter to an Irish lord and an army soldier, she made her way into the great circles of European society as "Lola Montez, the Spanish Dancer", famous on stage for her erotic “spider dance” and famous off-stage for her smoldering beauty that made her a sought after courtesan. When she became the mistress of King Ludwig I, he made her a Countess, much to the dismay of his people, and the scandal eventually brought down his rule.
Wandering outside the palace, in the stables wing, can be found the Marstallmuseum of royal carriages, with the ornate carriages and snow sleighs of Ludwig II and the great imperial coronation coach of Emperor Charles the VII of France, used in his investiture in Paris in 1742. Next to the carriage house is the Nymphenburg Porcelain collection. Bavarian Royal porcelain was actually manufactured on the palace grounds. More porcelain can be found at the Residence Palace in central Munich (see Residence Crown Jewels and Roman Emperors).
The Schloss Nymphenburg Gardens take up most of the land behind the main palace, the green park divided by a canal. Five 18th century pavilions of different styles can be explored, from the octagonal Pagoda to a fake ruin, a neoclassical temple, and rococo hunting lodge with its own hall of mirrors.
If visiting Nymphenburg, save a little extra time to head about five blocks south (on Hirschgartnerallee past the stables) to the Hirshgarten (Deer Garden), the largest and to some the best beer garden and open air restaurant in Munich, and indeed in Europe. In summer, the grounds have room for several thousand guests. The Hirschgarten was once a royal park for deer. There is still an enclosure with deer and some other animals kids can visit as a petting zoo. For an indoors meal in good or bad weather, the Koniglicher Hirschgarten Restaurant has been serving traditional Bavarian food since 1791. Just don't tell the kids about the venison (Rehfleisch) on the menu.
To get to
Nymphenburg Palace from the altstadt mitte of Munich you can take the
Tram from Stachaus – Karlsplatz, or take the
S-Bahn from Marienplatz or the Hauptbahnhof to Laim stop (nearest the
Hirshgarten). If driving, there is a parking lot on the grounds. If
it fills up, you can park on the approach road of the Aufahrtsallee along
the canal. © Bargain
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