Wurzburg was probably the largest city we visited on our river cruise with a population around 125,000. It's the capital of lower Franconia. The city was completely destroyed during World War Two, but it's been entirely rebuilt. The citizens of Wurzburg are truly resilient; the architectural gems of this important regional center have been restored and recreated.
The most significant building in the city is Residenz, a stunning 18th century palace rivaling Versailles and the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. The structure played home to the Prince-Bishops of Wurzburg and their administrative facilities during the late 1700's and early 1800's. The building is essentially a central wing with two side wings. The central portion of the building, facing the town, has an abundance of exterior decoration.
Security is very strict inside Residenz, pictures are not permitted (so I don't have much to show you, but I'll do my best to describe what I saw). After entering the building, you turn left, and there's a massive, baroque style staircase. This served as the first part of the formal reception area. It's really hard to get up these stairs because all you want to do is stare straight up. This is probably the biggest, pre-2oth century, column-less room I've ever seen, and on the ceiling above is the world's largest fresco.
The fresco was created from 1750 to 1753 by the Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo with help from his son, Giandomenico, and the master stuccoist Antonio Bossi. The fresco features the four continents (known at the time). Each is represented by an allegorical female figure with an animal.
We went past the top of the staircase and through the next immense doorway where we entered the White Hall. This is a large room used for receiving guests of the prince bishop. It features stucco work done in the rococo style by Antonio Bossi. I don't think I've seen any 3D artwork as elaborate as this. There are realistic looking curtains hanging in the high corners of the ceiling, but they're stucco, not cloth. Nearly everything in the room is white or light grey, so the details of the stucco work really stand out. Most of the decorations are rocailles, with a large amount of military items represented as well. After trying to take in the scope of the astoundingly detailed stucco work, our guide took us into the Imperial Hall.
I thought the Imperial Hall was the most interesting of the large rooms we saw in Residenz. This room's primary function was to receive dignitaries, including newly appointed Emperors on their way to Italy. The high, vaulted ceiling is adorned with stucco work marble, gold stucco trim, and fresco's by Tiepolo. The stucco work and fresco's were created in conjunction to give the impression of three dimensional figures coming out of the walls and ceiling. For example, there are painted people with stucco legs sticking out of the wall creating the illusion the entire figure is three dimensional. From the Imperial Hall, there are corridors going each direction and when all the doors are open an enfilade is created; you can see the entire length of the building, in each direction, from the Imperial Hall.
Our guide took us into the Imperial apartments to the right of the Imperial Hall. All of these rooms contain stylized tapestries displaying Asian scenes, primarily Chinese. The most impressive room in the apartments is called the Spiegalsaal, or Mirror Cabinet. The room is completely covered in mirrors with gold trim. The apartments were almost entirely destroyed in WW2, they've been authentically restored to their original splendor. One of the apartments has not been restored, but rather documents the destruction and restoration after the war. Seeing the sheer scale of destruction at the Residenz, and Wurburg overall is breathtaking. Exiting to the rear of the building, we walked into the formal gardens.
Wurzburg Residenz is fascinating. From the opulence of the worlds largest fresco, the unrivaled stucco work, and the massive restoration undertaking, this palace is one of Europe's finest gems.
Born and raised in the travel industry, Avery clings to a unique and profound drive to explore the planet's people, their cultures, history and architecture, as well as natural settings, landscapes and ecosystems. Outside of his upbringing in the travel industry, Avery's higher education mainly consists of Environmental Biology and Anthropology; his knowledge in both greatly influence his travel.