Orangery (Schwetzingen)

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View of the southern circle house of the former Schwetzingen orangery

The Schwetzingen Orangery is part of the garden of the Schwetzingen Palace . Its layout and the construction of the associated buildings began in 1718 under the Palatinate Elector Karl Philipp . His successor Karl Theodor let the work continue and brought the project to a close.

The old orangery

Plan for the expropriation of the property from 1748 to 1760, old orangery in the center

At the beginning of the 18th century, the need for premises for court festivities in Schwetzingen could not even come close. An orangery with a large ballroom should help here. At least that was the decision made by Elector Karl Philipp, who in 1716 succeeded Elector Johann Wilhelm , who predominantly resided in Düsseldorf .

When the orangery building was started in 1718, its ten-year construction period could not have been foreseen. A lack of funds delayed construction progress. The shell of the building was not completed until 1722. The large hall of the central wing took up the entire depth of the building. The circular segments of the two wings and their corner pavilions closed off the complex from the garden. Two small porches delimited the central hall to the west. In between was a terrace, from which one could reach the lower outdoor area via a few steps. A legacy that jutted out to the garden, was above the main hall. According to the records, the outer skin of the building was structured with house pilaster strips, but otherwise plastered. The rooms were furnished with stucco ceilings and Dutch tiles. All rooms could be heated. Alessandro Galli da Bibiena , who has been employed since 1719, is named as the architect .

The orangery house was completed in 1728. Damage that had already occurred during the construction period was only removed provisionally, so that the building's decay seemed predetermined. Elector Karl Theodor, who had succeeded Karl Philip in 1742, finally allowed a partial demolition of the old orangery in order to be able to realize new garden plans, which began with the construction of the northern circle house as orangery in 1748. After the completion of the southern circuit house in 1755, the old orangery was finally removed.

There must have been an extensive collection of lemon and orange trees, as large numbers were transferred from Mannheim in 1681 and from Düsseldorf in 1724. There are detailed records of the transfer of the Düsseldorf orangery to Schwetzingen. Then 447 orange trees and 313 other potted plants were transported by ship on the Rhine to Ketsch , which cost 750 guilders . After the death of the Schwetzingen court gardener Johann Betting in 1747, Jean Baptiste Mourian got his job. On June 20, 1747, Mourian listed the Schwetzingen holdings.

The circle houses

Bird's eye view of the planned castle and circle houses

The construction of the northern circle house according to plans by da Bibienas began in 1748. Guillaume d'Hauberat , Bibiena's successor in the same year, quickly continued the work with his master builder Franz Wilhelm Rabaliatti, so that the building was already completed in the spring of 1750. The heating and shading options were important for the operation as an orangery. 15 iron stoves and oiled paper windows were provided as sun protection.

While the location of the first orangery wing enabled future expansion of the new Schwetzingen pleasure garden, the placement of the second orangery wing was dependent on the location and expansion of a planned new palace. When this project was abandoned, the court gardener Johann Ludwig Petri and Rabaliatti , who had been active in Schwetzingen since 1752, agreed to arrange the second orangery south of the palace symmetrically to the first.

Execution plan for the southern circle house

Since the window front of the main facade had to be aligned to the northwest, the rear wall was provided with a few windows to improve room lighting. In contrast to the northern circle building, the rooms of which were mainly used for wintering the potted plants and were therefore simply furnished, two richly decorated ballrooms were set up in the southern circle by 1755.

On November 27, 1756, it was noted about the plant population that the orangery had to be reduced as there was a great abundance of trees. The populations of pomegranate and bay trees as well as oleander plants have been greatly reduced.

The circle houses were initially reserved for the orangery, the theater magazine and the court society, but their use changed at the beginning of the grand ducal period in Baden. In 1816, for example, the northern circle house was used as a riding school. During the war of 1870/71, both circle houses served as reserve hospital for German and French war wounded. Later the Jewish community set up a synagogue in the northern circle house. After the Second World War, the circular houses were used as event rooms as part of renovation measures.

The new orangery

Design for the palace garden with hunting park by Nicolas de Pigage in 1762; new orangery and orangery place on the right edge
Today's orangery

Due to the increased need for wintering rooms and spaces for potted plants for their summer presentation, Elector Carl Theodor commissioned his senior building director Nicolas de Pigage to plan and build another orangery building. Two glass houses should be combined with this. The orangery was put into operation as early as the winter of 1762/63. In the spring of 1762 the construction of the canal, which was intended to store rainwater, was completed, the last bridges of which were not completed until 1776. In 1777 the orangery garden was decorated with stone vases by Johann Matthäus van den Branden . The completion of the east glass house can be dated to 1770, while the construction of the west side glass house was not carried out due to lack of funds.

The building, conceived as a purely functional building, faces south with its almost room-high window front, which optimally favors the lighting of the rooms and the absorption of solar heat. Wooden shutters served as protection against the cold and for optional shading. Heating and windows for cross ventilation were provided on the rear wall. The west and east wings were used to overwinter the plants, while the central building was used to grow and cultivate young citrus plants .

The commissioning of the new orangery also resulted in a reorganization of all orangeries of the electoral prince. In 1762, the best holdings in the Mannheim orangery were moved to Benrath Palace , the poorer ones to Schwetzingen to be sold from here. Finally, in 1774, all orangery buckets were transported from Düsseldorf by ship to Ketsch and from there to Schwetzingen. In 1792 Friedrich Ludwig Sckell was appointed court gardener and tasked with looking after the Schwetzingen orangery.

For the year 1795, 1050 potted plants were listed. The operational expenditure in terms of personnel and time was described as follows: Eight men over four to six weeks to transplant 140 to 150 trees a year. It took 24 men to water the plants in one day. Two gardeners were always busy pruning and cleaning the plants. It took five days to clear and put away the potted plants, with 36 men and twelve horses in action. Tying, arranging and aligning the potted plants meant ten days of work for six men. The cuts in the garden budget in 1800 also resulted in savings in the orangery operations. The stock was reduced to 600 plants, a short time later limited to the most beautiful and best trees, and finally it was all about a pleasant occupation of the orangery square.

Orangery and Orangery Square

Around 1820 Johann Michael Zeyher described the Orangery Square. Accordingly, there were 630 orange, laurel, pomegranate trees as well as myrtle bushes and some trees of other species. The squares marked with an “f” (see picture on the left) were planted with perennials and annual ornamental plants . The canal bordering the Orangery Square was provided with water plants and, in addition to being used as a rainwater reservoir, also served as protection against theft. In 1762, a small wooden observatory was built here to observe the passage of the sun of Mercury.

Around 1900 conversions and the associated spatial changes in the orangery building, but also in its surroundings, can be observed. For example, a gardening and cooking school for young girls was set up in the central building, which was dissolved after the First World War. The makeshift buildings of the palace gardening, which were also erected at the beginning of the 20th century, lasted until 1975. They also turned out to be foreign objects in an otherwise homogeneous garden landscape, as did the orangery garden, which was devalued to a horticultural cultivation area. Only a new gardener's building in the south-east corner of the Schwetzingen Garden made it possible to restore the space in the basic structure of 1767.

Only a few old pomegranate trees, laurel trees and palm trees survived the frosty nights in February 1945, largely defenseless, after parts of the roof and the windows of the eastern orangery wing were destroyed as a result of the war. Decades of neglect and misuse of the orangery building as a workshop, machine shop and warehouse made its extensive renovation impossible to postpone. After all operating equipment housed here had been moved to the new workshop building on the nursery site in 1996, it was possible to work on its future use and equipment. Care was taken to preserve the original substance as much as possible. So - in the sense of historical guidelines - there was space in the east wing of the orangery and in the glass house built on there for the overwintering of the considerable population of potted plants. In the west wing, on the other hand, the original garden figures were set up in a lapidarium , protected from the weather .


  • Wiltrud Heber: The work of Nicolas de Pigage in the former Palatinate residences Mannheim and Schwetzingen . Worms 1986.
  • Kurt Martin: The art monuments of Baden . City of Schwetzingen, Karlsruhe 1933.
  • Rudolf Sillib: Castle and garden in Schwetzingen . Heidelberg 1907.
  • Arnold Tschira : Orangeries and greenhouses . Berlin 1939.
  • Johann Michael Zeyher, Georg Christian Roemer: Description of the gardens to Schwetzingen . Mannheim around 1820.

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Coordinates: 49 ° 23 ′ 9.5 ″  N , 8 ° 33 ′ 57 ″  E