Electoral Palace (Koblenz)

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Aerial view of the palace complex during the 2011 Federal Horticultural Show
The city side around 1900

The Electoral Palace in Koblenz was the residence of the last Archbishop and Elector of Trier , Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxony , who had it built at the end of the 18th century. The Prussian Crown Prince and later Emperor Wilhelm I resided here as the Rhenish-Westphalian military governor for a few years .

Today the castle is the seat of various federal authorities. It is one of the most important palace buildings of French early classicism in southwest Germany and, along with Wilhelmshöhe Palace in Kassel , the Prince-Bishop's Palace in Münster and the residential palace in Ludwigsburg, it is one of the last residential palaces that were built in Germany immediately before the French Revolution .


The edification

City view of the Electoral Palace in 1789
Throne room in the Electoral Palace, 1920
Front view of the Electoral Palace
Stairway in the castle
Imperial Hall

The old residence, Philippsburg Palace in Ehrenbreitstein , was in need of renovation and was not representative enough for the new archbishop, who came from a Saxon-Polish margrave and royal family. A new representative building was therefore necessary. The estates , who were reluctant to accept the need for a new building, could only be persuaded to approve the money after lengthy discussions. The electoral palace was finally built between 1777 and 1793 by order of the Archbishop of Trier and Elector Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxony in the new Koblenz district of Neustadt . The first designing architect was the Parisian architect Pierre Michel d'Ixnard , who had already planned several buildings in southern Germany.

After criticizing his palace plans and after it had turned out that the architect was obviously overwhelmed with the project, an expert opinion from the Paris Academy of Architects was obtained, which confirmed the criticism. D'Ixnard was dismissed and the Frenchman Antoine-François Peyre the Younger was commissioned with the new building plans, which provided for a much simpler and smaller structure. The castle in its current appearance goes back to Peyre. The architect had to orientate himself on the already laid foundations.

The plans for the design of the interior and the furniture were made by François Ignace Mangin until 1787 , when Andreas Henckel was hired as court plasterer . Johann Andreas Gärtner from Dresden was entrusted with the local construction management, who built the fortress Schirrhof (today's Reichenspergerplatz) in Koblenz, which was damaged in World War II and then cleared. Be born in Koblenz son Friedrich von Gärtner built in Munich , among others, the Ludwig church , buildings at the Ludwig road and the Feldherrnhalle . The Mainz sculptor Johann Sebastian Barnabas Pfaff and the painter Januarius Zick are among the artists who built the palace .

On November 23, 1786, Elector Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxony and his sister Maria Kunigunde of Saxony , Princess Abbess of Essen , moved into the new castle. In the same year it was connected to the new electoral water pipe from Metternich . A year later, the new theater was opened not far from the castle . On today's Clemensplatz in front of the theater, the elector had the Clemensbrunnen built in 1791 , the first public fountain that was connected to the water supply and that the elector gave to his neighbors. Frightened by the outbreak of the French Revolution , Elector Clemens Wenzeslaus, who had previously been reform-minded, stopped all reforms and led a stricter regime. He offered the emigrants and the fugitive members of the French court related to him (Clemens Wenzeslaus was the uncle of the French King Louis XVI. ) A place of refuge - especially in the Schönbornslust Palace at the gates of Koblenz. This made Koblenz a center of the French royalists .

French occupation until 1814

Because of the approach of the French Revolutionary Army in the First Coalition War , Elector Wenceslas had to flee his territory on October 7, 1794. Two weeks later, Koblenz was taken by the French under General François Séverin Marceau . The Trier electoral state came to an end and was largely annexed to France in 1801 . The interior of the residential palace could therefore never be completed. Before he fled, the elector had the mobile equipment loaded onto ships and transported to Augsburg , where it became part of the equipment of the prince-bishop's residence. After the death of Clemens Wenzeslaus, some of it was auctioned. However, large parts of the representative rooms of the Koblenz Castle passed into the possession of the Kingdom of Bavaria . These pieces are still preserved today in Johannisburg Palace in Aschaffenburg , Nymphenburg Palace in Munich , in the Munich Residence , in the Landshut city residence and in the New Residence in Bamberg . After the elector's flight, the electoral palace was temporarily barracks and military hospital and from 1815, after it came into the possession of Prussia , it was only barracks.

In the Prussian monarchy

The two circular buildings were mainly used as palace barracks; soldiers were barracked in the main building at the beginning of the Prussian era. From 1823 to 1842 the castle was the seat of various Prussian authorities and courts. Until 1911, the first floor was the official residence of the Upper President of the Rhine Province , who then moved to the newly built Upper Presidium next to the castle . Until 1918, the main guard of the city of Koblenz was located in the head of the southern circular wing.

Between 1833 and 1852 there was an optical bar telegraph of the Prussian telegraph line Berlin-Cologne-Koblenz on the belvedere of the south wing of the palace . It was the final station 61 of the system, and the castle also housed the telegraphic expedition office and rooms for the administration of the western parts of the telegraph line.

Friedrich Wilhelm IV chose the building as his residence for his stays in the Rhineland and had its interior redesigned from 1842 to 1845 by Johann Claudius von Lassaulx based on designs by Friedrich August Stüler .

From 1850 to 1858, the Prince of Prussia , later Emperor Wilhelm I , with his wife Augusta served as military governor for the Rhine Province and the Province of Westphalia . It gave the impetus to create the Kaiserin Augusta enclosures (Rhine enclosures) that were later named after her . Every year until a few weeks before her death in January 1890, Empress Augusta visited the palace and the city of Koblenz, her "Rhenish Potsdam".

The palace remained a frequent destination for the royal Prussian family until the outbreak of the First World War . On August 16, 1914, at the beginning of the war, it was briefly the seat of the Grand Headquarters and Kaiser Wilhelm II.

In the Free State of Prussia

In the course of the occupation of the Rhineland , French occupation authorities used large parts of the palace after the end of the war. In 1920 the city of Koblenz rented the representative rooms to accommodate their art collection (the core of today's Middle Rhine Museum ) and the archaeological and folkloric objects compiled by the Koblenz Museum Association. This so-called "Castle Museum" made not only the collection objects, but also the castle rooms accessible to a larger public for the first time. From October 25, 1923 to February 9, 1924, supporters of the Rhenish Republic under the "Prime Minister" Josef Friedrich Matthes occupied the electoral palace.

In the time of National Socialism

On March 24, 1935, an oval Thingstätte was inaugurated on the forecourt of the Electoral Palace under Mayor Otto Wittgen in a so-called "Thingstättenweihe" or "Volkswerdungsfeier". The Thing movement was launched in 1933 as a propaganda tool, but stopped again in 1936 due to lack of effectiveness. It was supposed to tie in with the Germanic people's and court assemblies, called Thing . Things games should be held in front of a large audience on the Thingplatz .

The oval Thingplatz at the Electoral Palace consisted of 16,000 terraced basalt columns and offered space for 20,000 people. The space around Thingplatz held another 80,000 people. A crypt was built on one end, in which an eternal fire burned in a basalt block. As of June 8, 1934, over a hundred workers worked at the site in two shifts.

During construction, there was a confrontation between the authorities responsible for the construction of the propaganda leader Gaus Koblenz-Trier , Wilhelm Michels , and the city administration. The Prussian state approved as the owner of the castle to transport the excavated earth by the palace rooms used by the city of Koblenz as a museum were rented. Michel initially refused to sign a contract according to which the Free State of Prussia would assume any damage incurred as agreed. This was only made up for after the entry of the managing directors of the gaming company, who, although subordinates of the mayor Otto Wittgen, defended Michels. The damage in the building was not completely removed until 1936. From around 1936 the Koblenz Thingstätte was mainly used for May Day celebrations , but the party and the National Socialist organizations' interest in the Thingstätte soon waned, so it was rarely used. It was destroyed in an air raid in 1944 and later filled with rubble from the city.

Reconstruction and use after 1945

The destroyed Koblenz in 1945, top left the burnt-out Electoral Palace, right Friedrich-Ebert-Ring

During the air raids on Koblenz in World War II , the palace complex was destroyed except for the outer walls and cellar vaults. In the years 1950 to 1951 it was rebuilt externally according to old plans, but with a modern interior design in the style of the 1950s. Only in the central building were the representative staircase, the vestibule, the guard room (now called "Mirror Hall" or "Kurfürstensaal") and the garden hall reconstructed, while the ballroom (now the "Kaisersaal") was rebuilt in historical forms, but not based on the original. The model for the reconstructed rooms was the classicist state of the time of construction, but with simplifications in detail. This also applied to the restoration of the gardens, especially the palace square. The only historical room is the anteroom to the no longer existing castle church in the north end of the main building. The circular buildings were reappeared in simple, modern forms and only retained the floor plan from the time they were built. Initially, the building served as the headquarters of the Allied Security Office.

In 1946, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate became the legal successor to Prussia's owner of the building. It sold it to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1960 , which has been the owner ever since. During the last restoration in 1998, instead of the previous external color scheme in ocher / blue-red, which was common for the Prussian garrison and fortress buildings and castles in Prussia, that of the 18th century was restored - white-gray for the wall surfaces and gray for the architectural elements. Today, most of the former residence is used as an office building for various federal authorities (e.g. the Federal Agency for Real Estate , which also manages the castle, the main customs office , BAAINBw , federal examination office ).

Federal Garden Show 2011

The city of Koblenz was awarded the contract for the 2011 Federal Horticultural Show. The area around the castle was used as one of the staging areas. By opening the castle, an axis was created from the new rail stop in Koblenz Stadtmitte via Schlossstrasse through the castle itself to the Rhine. The entire complex was equipped with a variety of plant species as well as water areas, fountains, radial step systems and seat walls. It reflects the splendor of the rulers who used to reside here. The garden behind the castle got its appearance back according to the historical Lenné model and was designed in a terraced shape facing the Rhine. On the banks of the Rhine behind the palace, a 100-meter-wide staircase was built in 2009. During the construction of the underground car park in front of the castle in October 2008, an early Roman craftsmen's settlement was discovered.

21st century

The representative rooms in the central tract have been rented out by the city of Koblenz for events since the Federal Garden Show; some of them are also accessible to the public through a catering facility. Occasional requests from the population to make other rooms of the castle accessible to the public, however, fail to recognize that the rest of the castle was only rebuilt as purely functional office space in the style of the 1950s and therefore no longer contains any elements worth seeing.

The gardens in front of and behind the Electoral Palace for the 2011 Federal Horticultural Show will be available to the population as recreational areas even after the event has ended; they are now part of the World Heritage Gardens route . During the BUGA Festival 2012, the castle was one of the venues for the streams of light . The artist group “Casa Magica” showed a mapping whose image material was magnetic resonance tomography .

A renovation of the palace complex has been under discussion since summer 2013 due to pollution in the interior. The Federal Agency for Real Estate Tasks should determine the costs of a renovation by mid-2016 and then decide how to proceed. At the beginning of 2020, the Federal Agency announced that the renovation or renewal of the roof would require 7.6 million euros.


Exterior construction

The palace building consists of a rectangular main building ( corps de logis ), which extends in a north-south direction parallel to the nearby bank of the Rhine, and two semicircular circular wings on the west side facing the city, which frame the large forecourt. The main building, which is characterized by a horizontal structure, has 39 axes. Five of these axes are designed as side elevations . In the middle of the front facing the city, an eight-column portico is presented at building height. On the Rhine side, a central projection is formed, which is presented with six columns and which is rounded off by a relief by the sculptor Johann Sebastian Barnabas Pfaff . It shows the allegory of the Rhine and Moselle , the electoral coat of arms, lions as a symbol of rule and symbols of the secular and spiritual power of the Archbishop and Elector of Trier. The lower circular wings, which were rebuilt in the 1950s with two stories, are not structured.

Sandstone sculpture "Father Rhine and Mother Mosel" in the palace garden

The simple and sober building was built as a residence and city palace. However, due to its location on the banks of the Rhine and the interior layout, it is designed both as part of the Rhine landscape and as a building that includes or takes into account the surroundings in its rooms. The ideal path leads from the city at ground level through the vestibule and garden hall to the palace garden on the banks of the Rhine. The rooms on the south and east sides offer a magnificent view of the Middle Rhine Valley . The inclusion of the landscape is based on the client's wishes. The forecourt situation, which appears spacious due to the circular buildings, has older models, e.g. B. in the Petersplatzkolonnaden in Rome , the New Palace in Bayreuth and the Schwetzingen Palace . With the commissioning of French architects , the orientation of architecture to the German or Franconian Baroque , which had previously been common in Koblenz, breaks off.

In the garden behind the castle is a sandstone sculpture created by Johann Hartung in 1854, which depicts an allegory of “Father Rhine and Mother Mosel”.


A competition was launched in 1951 for the artistic furnishing of the rebuilt castle, whereby the northern staircase was supposed to tie in with the former design as much as possible. Accordingly, the north wall of the stairwell on the first floor was designed as a circular niche again. The space occupied by a pewter figure from the 19th century before the castle was destroyed was occupied by a sculpture by Emil Krieger entitled “Kore”. The sculptures on the podiums of the staircase in the entrance hall, “Europe on the Bull” by Otto Rumpf and “Horse and Rider” by Werner Meurer , were also created by the artists with reference to the lion sculptures that were previously positioned there. Allegorizing wall paintings by Rolf Müller-Landau are located in the niches of the southern passage hall on the ground floor . The niches in the east wall of the large staircase on the first floor were designed by the painter Edvard Frank ; in the northern side room of the garden room on the ground floor there are two pictures by the painter Edgar Ehses . A mosaic signed EK was attached to the south wall of the stairwell in the main building. It is very likely that the artist Eugen Keller created this . “The selection made by the competition commission was shaped by the effort to ensure a uniform design and color scheme. With all references to the earlier furnishings and the consideration of the architecture of the castle, these works testify to an artistic problem from their own time. "

Monument protection

The Electoral Palace is a protected cultural monument under the Monument Protection Act (DSchG) and entered in the list of monuments of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate . It is located in Koblenz-Altstadt in Neustadt 24 .

The Electoral Palace has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley since 2002 . Furthermore, it is a protected cultural asset according to the Hague Convention and marked with the blue and white protection symbol.


  • Heinrich Reimer: The royal palace in Coblenz - a historical guide . Coblenz 1906. dilibri.de
  • Energy supply Middle Rhine (ed.): History of the city of Koblenz . Overall editing: Ingrid Bátori in conjunction with Dieter Kerber and Hans Josef Schmidt
    • Volume 1: From the beginning to the end of the electoral era . Theiss, Stuttgart 1992, ISBN 3-8062-0876-X
    • Volume 2: From the French city to the present . Theiss, Stuttgart 1993, ISBN 3-8062-1036-5
  • Fritz Michel: The art monuments of the city of Koblenz. The profane monuments and the suburbs , Munich Berlin 1954, pp. 176-180 (The art monuments of Rhineland-Palatinate, first volume).
  • Herbert Dellwing , Reinhard Kallenbach (arrangement): Cultural monuments in Rhineland-Palatinate. Monument topography Federal Republic of Germany. Volume 3.2: City of Koblenz. Downtown. Speyer 2004, ISBN 3-88462-198-X
  • Landesarchivverwaltung Rheinland-Pfalz (Ed.): 200 years of the Koblenz Residence. Catalog for the exhibition in Koblenz Castle from August 6 to November 2, 1986 . Koblenz 1986.
  • Wolfgang Schöller: Pierre-Michel d'Ixnard, Antoine-François Peyre and the construction of the Koblenz residential palace: new research . In: Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch , 53, 1992 pp. 155–175.
  • State building administration Rhineland-Palatinate, state building authority Koblenz (ed.): The castle to Koblenz . Koblenz 1999.
  • Lorenz Frank; Anke Behmer: The Koblenz Castle - building history, historical colors and reconstruction after the Second World War . In: Burgen und Schlösser , 41, 2000, pp. 181–185, ISSN  0007-6201 .
  • Lorenz Frank, Anke Behmer: On the artistic equipment of the Koblenz castle after the reconstruction . In: German Burgenvereinigung: Burgen und Schlösser , 41, 2000, ISSN  0007-6201
  • Paul-Georg Custodis: The Koblenz Castle - 50 years of monument preservation care . In: Burgen und Schlösser , 41, 2000, pp. 186–189.
  • The summer home of the German Empress . In: The Gazebo . Issue 20, 1897, pp. 338–342 ( full text [ Wikisource ]).

Web links

Commons : Electoral Palace  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c March 24, 1935. Inauguration of the Thingstätte in Koblenz. State Main Archive Koblenz , accessed on February 28, 2020 .
  2. Petra Weiß: The city administration of Koblenz under National Socialism. Dissertation (PDF; 43.0 MB) , unpublished. Pp. 341-345.
  3. Early Roman craftsmen's settlement in front of Koblenz Castle discovered in: Rhein-Zeitung , October 30, 2008
  4. Electoral Palace in: koblenz-kongress.de
  5. Renovation of the Koblenz Castle: costing will last until 2016 in: Rhein-Zeitung , May 19, 2015
  6. Roof renovation should cost 7.6 million euros. SWR aktuell, February 26, 2020, accessed on February 28, 2020 .
  7. ^ Lorenz Frank, Anke Behmer: On the artistic equipment of the Koblenz castle after the reconstruction . In: Deutsche Burgenvereinigung: Burgen und Schlösser , 2000, ISSN  0007-6201
  8. ^ General Directorate for Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate (ed.): Informational directory of cultural monuments - district-free city of Koblenz. Mainz 2020, p. 3 (PDF; 6.5 MB).

Coordinates: 50 ° 21 ′ 20.1 ″  N , 7 ° 36 ′ 8 ″  E