Nymphenburg Castle

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Panorama Nymphenburg Palace seen from the park
Location of Nymphenburg Palace in the Neuhausen-Nymphenburg district
Aerial view of the Nymphenburg Palace ensemble with outdoor facilities and park as well as canal and water basins (Munich, Bavaria)

Nymphenburg Palace was the summer residence of the Wittelsbach family for centuries . The former ruling family still has the right to live in some buildings. The palace with its 180 hectare park is located in the west of Munich in the Neuhausen-Nymphenburg district . Together with the Nymphenburg Palace Park , the four park castles and the palace rondel, it forms an ensemble. Nymphenburg Palace is one of the great royal palaces in Europe and is a popular attraction. At 632 meters (north-south axis), its span exceeds even Versailles Palace. The approaching visitor is able to view almost the entire length of the castle rondel.

In addition to its art-historical importance, the castle has extremely powerful fountain works, which are still preserved in the original. In the north wing (Johannisbrunnhaus) is the oldest pumping station in Europe still in operation, which has operated the large fountain in front of the palace since 1807/08 and is an outstanding monument of engineering.

The central building of the castle is aligned with the astronomical time of the spring equinox and can therefore be classified in the category of calendar structures .


Established as a country villa

Princess Henriette Adelheid of Savoy, Electress of Bavaria

In 1663, Henriette Adelheid of Savoy became the owner of Hofmark Menzing , where Blutenburg Castle was already located, through a gift from her husband, the Bavarian Elector Ferdinand Maria (r. 1651–1679) . The occasion was the birth of Prince Elector Max Emanuel , the long-awaited heir to the throne. The history of Nymphenburg Palace began in the same year with the purchase of the Schwaige Kemnat, a little further east and closer to Munich, for 10,000 florins by the Elector. The activities of the court shifted there when in 1664 a country castle was commissioned by Ferdinand Maria as a gift to his wife, which Adelheid of Savoy called "Nymphenburg". Contrary to a widespread misconception , the Italianizing name “Borgo delle Ninfe” was first created in the 19th century. The complex was designed as a pleasure palace in the style of Italian country villas; The baroque palace complex, which could serve as a summer residence and alternative to the seat of government, the Munich Residence , was only expanded a generation later under Max Emanuel. At times, the court's entertainment relocated to Schleissheim Palace , in whose park Lustheim Palace had now also been built.

Residential palace

It was not until 1701, at the request of Max II Emanuel (reigned 1679–1726), that the cornerstone of the expansion was laid, and in 1704 the project remained in the shell after the War of the Spanish Succession until 1714 led to the exile of the Elector and the occupation of Bavaria by the Austrians . After the Elector's return, work was resumed on a larger scale from 1716, and the first park castles were built.

Nymphenburg 1761, painting by Canaletto

The convent dedicated to the Holy Trinity and St. Clement in the north wing was founded in 1730. The monastery served as an Augustinian choir monastery.

In the Nymphenburg Treaty of 1741 France, Spain, Bavaria and Saxony allied themselves with Prussia against Austria. Elector Karl Albrecht (reigned 1726–1745) preferred Nymphenburg over the other pleasure palaces and lived mostly in Nymphenburg after his return to Munich during his time as emperor from October 1744. Until 1745 the deer hunting park was attached to the castle .

In 1747, Karl Albrecht's son, Elector Max III. Joseph (r. 1745–1777) founded the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory . As the most important summer residence, Nymphenburg was the scene of numerous festivities at the court, in 1763 the Mozarts took part in a large gala at Nymphenburg Palace and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played in front of the elector. In 1792, Elector Karl Theodor (r. 1777–1799) opened the Nymphenburg Park to the public.

In 1805 the Austrian Lieutenant Field Marshal Karl Philipp zu Schwarzenberg invaded Nymphenburg Palace with 200 hussars and, with ultimate threats, demanded the connection of the Bavarian to the Austrian troops, but thereby brought about a Bavarian alliance with France . At the beginning of 1817 the last women choirs from the Augustinian Choir Monastery were transferred to the Servitinnen. In 1835, however, the English ladies received the building.

King Maximilian I (ruled 1799–1825) died in the palace in 1825, his great-grandson King Ludwig II (ruled 1864–1886) was born here in 1845. In 1863 the only meeting between Ludwig and Otto von Bismarck took place in Nymphenburg , with whom he remained in a lifelong friendship. From 1873 to 1875, Prince Otto was kept in isolation in the southern pavilion.

From 1890 to 1916, the Volksgarten Nymphenburg was located 200 meters east of the palace on Romanplatz , which was the largest amusement park in Germany at the time.

Ownership structure after the end of the monarchy

Due to the revolution in 1918, Nymphenburg came under crown estate administration, then state property ( Bavarian administration of state palaces, gardens and lakes ). The Wittelsbachers retained a limited right of residence, which is used by the respective head of the House of Wittelsbach (currently Duke Franz von Bayern ). Prince Ludwig Ferdinand lived with his family continuously in the castle until his death in 1949.

Conversion during the Nazi era

With the end of the Weimar Republic , the National Socialists seized the palace complex. The local branch line of the NSDAP received in 1933 the former "Kitchen" of the third southern pavilions with 550 sqm area as a branch. Directly above, the resistance fighter Heinrich Weiß lived unrecognized on the first floor . The former Marstall was used as a parade hall for SA, Jungvolk and Hitler Youth. The palace and park served as the backdrop for celebrations by National Socialist rulers, such as B. for press receptions and summer parties that Rudolf Hess gave to his 800 employees. From 1936 to 1939, the Night of the Amazons was staged in the park as the evening highlight of the Riem International Racing Week around the Brown Ribbon of Germany in front of up to 20,000 spectators. The bizarre open-air revue with its bare-breasted actresses holds a special position among the major events of the “Third Reich”.

On October 22nd, 1934 Christian Weber founded the association "German Hunting Museum eV - Research and Training Center for Hunting Studies" in order to realize his plan to found a German Hunting Museum . With Hitler's backing in 1935, the choice of location finally fell on large parts of the north wing of Nymphenburg. To implement this, the English ladies were robbed of their school and boarding rooms. A gem of baroque furnishings, the two-story monastery church, built between 1734 and 1739 with stucco by Johann Baptist Zimmermann , frescoes by Joseph Adam Mölck , sculptures by Johann Baptist Straub and an altarpiece by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo , was profaned at the end of 1937 to make way for a reading room. The crypts below have been converted into a beer cellar. In addition to extensive renovations inside the historic building, new buildings for the German Hunting Museum were also built under the direction of the architect Oswald Bieber . However, in accordance with the Bavarian Palace Administration, they were based on the roof and window shapes, axes and floor structures of the historical model. On October 16, 1938, the opening of the German Hunting Museum took place with a pageant going out from there under the motto "1000 years of hunting and 1000 years of costume". Another brutal intervention in the castle ensemble began for a second construction phase of the German Hunting Museum. In the summer of 1939, the Kapuzinerbau built in 1718 in the extreme north wing was demolished without a formal permit.

Second World War

During the Second World War, the main palace and the Amalienburg were given a camouflage to protect them from air attacks , the large areas of the path were darkened and parts of the central canal were covered. The water basins on the city side of the castle were also filled up later. Two underground bunkers were built in the lawns of the inner parterre, another was built east of the Iron House and has been preserved to this day.

The palace complex was largely spared during the Second World War. The monastery church, which was profaned in 1937 and converted into the reading room of the German Hunting Museum, was destroyed by bombs in 1944. Further damage was caused to the forecourt of the castle. In the park, the Badenburg and the Great Cascade were destroyed or severely damaged, damage also occurred to the group of figures of Pan and the trees in the park. Occupation soldiers blew up an old building, the so-called penitentiary south of the Great Cascade , which had been used as an arsenal.

post war period

After the war, the damage was gradually repaired. At the end of the war in May 1945 there was a large tented hospital in the green area in front of the city side of the castle. In 1952 the opening of today's Marstallmuseum took place . The castle was often used as a film set, including for the international productions Last year in Marienbad (1961) and Ludwig II. (1972) . In 1972 the Olympic dressage competitions were held against the backdrop of the Nymphenburg Palace . The Museum Mensch und Natur in the north wing was inaugurated in 1990, for which the Free State of Bavaria decided to expand in 2014 with a controversial new building.

Building history

Erection of the central building

"The Electoral Schwaig and Lusthauß Nymphenburg", engraving by Michael Wening , 1701

Originally, the central wing was built in the style of an Italian country house as a five-storey cubic block with later double-flight staircases on both sides from 1664 and was essentially completed in 1675. Kelheim limestone was used as building material . The model was the Piedmontese hunting lodge Venaria Reale , whose architect Amedeo Castellamonte (1613–1683) also provided the first designs for Nymphenburg.

Agostino Barelli , the architect of the Munich Theatinerkirche , was employed as the first architect of Nymphenburg , and the court builder Marx (Markus) Schinnagl as site manager . Schinnagl, as the acting court architect, is otherwise completely eliminated for the Electress's new buildings, she finds local specialists insufficiently trained for her building projects. The Italian baroque had already established itself at the Bavarian court .

The work began with the construction of a cube-shaped castle building and the creation of a garden west of the castle. It was a small, Italian- designed garden ground floor. Between 1668, when Barelli's departure from Munich, and in 1673, when court builder Enrico Zuccalli took over all construction sites, Lorenzo Perti was the head of work in Nymphenburg. In 1672 the topping-out ceremony for the five-storey central building of the facility took place. It is the main cubic building that still exists today, only at that time each facade was emphasized by a dominant dwarf house . After the Electress's death in 1676, the central building was significantly changed under the direction of Zuccalli in 1678, its mid-sized buildings were now demolished and the first staircase facing the city was built. When Elector Ferdinand Maria died in 1679, construction work was suspended for more than twenty years. Only then was the castle gradually expanded and redesigned over time.

Construction of the side pavilions and the roundabout

Nymphenburg, 1730

First, Elector Max II. Emanuel had Enrico Zuccalli and Giovanni Antonio Viscardi build the two two-story arcade galleries next to the main castle and the adjoining, almost square two northern and two southern pavilions, each with three floors. This created a courtyard of honor as the two outer pavilions were moved to the east. Viscardi rebuilt the existing central building again, providing the central hall with large arched windows in groups of three on both sides. He also built the second large flight of stairs to the garden as a counterpart to the existing Zuccalli stairs on the east side and created the entrance hall on the ground floor. After only three years of construction, construction work was suspended again due to the elector's exile during the War of the Spanish Succession. Viscardi then built the palace chapel in the second northern pavilion in 1713.

In 1716 the new court architect Joseph Effner changed the facade of the main building according to the French model. In the middle of the individual floors, the three large, arched windows were framed by fluted pilasters that extend to the roof. Under the management of Effner until 1719, apartments were built in Nymphenburg in the style of the French Régence . From 1716, the two cuboid-shaped connecting wings to the two outer four-winged buildings for the orangery in the north and the stables in the south, which adjoin the northern and southern pavilions, were built. These buildings were again moved to the east and are two-story. The Marstall was largely completed by 1719, while the orangery wing was not completed until 1755–58 by Johann Baptist Gunetzrhainer . With these two blocks, the eastern front of Nymphenburg extends to 538 meters. To the north and south of the two courtyard blocks, however, there are two further converted courtyards, which, however, no longer owe their shape to Effner and were only created later.

Historically, Nymphenburg Palace was connected to Fürstenried Palace via Fürstenrieder Strasse as an avenue . A water connection to the Schleißheim palace complex was planned via the Nymphenburg-Biederstein Canal . The avenue connection to the originally not yet merged residential city of Munich still exists today via the Nördliche or Südliche Auffahrtsallee. Originally there was a line of sight, the view , to the northwestern Blutenburg Castle .

The roundabout building in front of the main wing, which originates from the two outer buildings and was completed after 1730 under Max Emanuel's son Elector Karl Albrecht, was considered an architectural sensation in its time. It was to become the starting point for a “Carlstadt” that was never realized. Here are ten palaces symmetrically divided into two groups of five, which were built between 1728 and 1758 for senior court officials. The canal east of the castle, which is accompanied by the two access avenues and was part of the project, was built in the years 1728–30. In 1739 the monastery church of the Holy Trinity on the outer north wing of the castle with three altars was completed.

Further structural changes

Karl Albrecht's son, Elector Max III. Joseph commissioned François de Cuvilliés with the “Stone Hall” in the main building, which was completed in 1756. In 1763, before the onset of early classicism, the last changes in the Rococo style followed , Franz Xaver Feichtmayr and François de Cuvilliés were commissioned to redesign the two cabinets on the main floor of the central building.

In 1795, Elector Karl Theodor had the galleries on the park side widened, creating more, now classicistically decorated rooms on both sides of the central pavilion.

Under King Maximilian I Joseph , 1806–1810, the baroque furnishings in the first southern pavilion were torn down with the exception of a few remains in order to refurbish the rooms in the Napoleonic style of the Empire . Shortly after taking office, his two successors also initiated structural changes: On behalf of King Ludwig I, Leo von Klenze removed the gable with the electoral coat of arms in 1826 and instead created the attic on the main building . In 1848, Klenze was commissioned by King Maximilian II Joseph to expand the now inaccessible second floor of the central building with new living spaces. The west wing of the south wing was not built until 1986–1989 in place of a shed, which meant that the exterior was only completed according to the original plans.


Some rooms have retained their original Baroque decoration , others were later redesigned in the Rococo and Classicist styles .

Ceiling fresco in the stone hall

Central pavilion and galleries

Stone hall

In the central pavilion , François de Cuvilliés designed the three- story stone hall as a ballroom from 1755 . The frescoes were created under the direction of Johann Baptist Zimmermann , the central ceiling fresco depicts Helios in the sun chariot, accompanied by other gods. The shape of the room, however, dates back to the first building period by Barelli and Zuccalli, including the wall and window structure Viscardi from 1702–1704 was retained at that time.

To the north of the stone hall there is a wood-paneled anteroom , the audience room decorated with Brussels tapestries and the former bedroom with the so-called small beauty gallery with ladies-in-waiting from Versailles, rooms that were redesigned under Max Emanuel in the Regency style, but have retained their original baroque field ceilings. Here are portraits of the elector and his wife Therese Kunigunde. On the park side, the bedroom is joined by the Max III wood turning cabinet designed by Cuvillies . Josephs, while to the north of it are three rooms that were created by the widening of the gallery wings under Karl Theodor. In the first room behind the North Gallery are today more portraits of ladies from the Great Gallery of Beauties Max Emanuel, the second decorated a rug with the alliance coat of arms of Bavaria and the Palatinate (so-called. Wappenzimmer ) during the third space portraits of Karl Theodor and his wife hanging .

To the south of the Stone Hall, mirroring the northern rooms of the main building, are the anteroom with the portrait of Karl Albrecht, the audience room with the double portrait of the castle founders Ferdinand Maria and Henriette Adelaide and the former bedroom with the portraits of Max Emanuel and Therese Kunigunde of Poland . The original baroque ceilings by Antonio Domenico Triva have also been preserved here. The walls of the so-called lacquer cabinet , which adjoins the bedroom, are almost completely covered with Chinese coromandel lacquer panels showing scenes from a Chinese novel. The ceiling was stuccoed by Franz Xaver Feuchtmayr . The bathroom of King Maximilian II is behind the lacquer cabinet .

In the two galleries to the north and south of the central pavilion there are vedute of Bavarian castles. Behind the southern gallery is the writing cabinet and anteroom of Elector Karl Theodor , which were created when the gallery wing was widened. The design came from the court architect Maximilian von Verschaffelt .

Birth room of King Ludwig II.

Southern pavilions and stables

Beauty gallery of King Ludwig I.

The inner southern pavilion housed the Electress's apartments when it was built. Today the most famous attraction is the beauty gallery of King Ludwig I of Bavaria . On behalf of the king, the court painter Joseph Karl Stieler portrayed 36 “beautiful” women from all walks of life in Munich; The most famous of these are the shoemaker's daughter Helene Sedlmayr and Ludwig's long-time lover, the dancer Lola Montez . Next to it is the study of Queen Caroline , his furniture set, created around 1810, has a veneer made of alder wood. Nearby on the park side are the queen's audience room in Empire style and the bedroom in which King Ludwig II of Bavaria was born on August 25, 1845 . The mahogany furniture was created around 1815. In a 5-room apartment above the room where Ludwig II was born, a Wittelsbacher, currently Franz von Bayern, still lives due to the family's right of residence .

The outer south pavilion is generally inaccessible. It served as a kitchen in Max Emanuel's time and, like the inner pavilion, was rebuilt in the classical period.

Farther south, the third pavilion is the kitchen building , which was built as the "Comedihaus" and served as a kitchen house from 1750. The southern waterway from 1747 connects this building with the stables in the south wing.

The Marstallmuseum is located in the former royal stables in the south wing , with one of the most important collections of coaches in Europe. Above it is the Nymphenburg Porcelain Collection . The Porzellanmanufaktur Nymphenburg is located in one of the houses in the northern roundabout and can only be visited with prior written notice.

There is a restaurant with a beer garden in the south wing of the palace, which adjoins the south wing .

Northern pavilions and orangery wing

The inner northern pavilion is generally inaccessible, this is where Max Emanuel's parade apartment was located. In this later so-called Crown Prince Building, there are still high-quality representation rooms that are used by the Wittelsbach Compensation Fund.

Castle Church

The outer northern pavilion houses the castle church, whose ceiling paintings and frescoes by Joseph Mölck (1759) deal with the life of St. Magdalena . In front of the altarpiece of the baroque high altar is an older group of figures representing Christ and Mary Magdalene.

Further north, the third pavilion is the Gardemeuble building from 1723, which was used for passing and billiards when it was built. It is connected to the north wing by the northern waterway from 1739.

Illustration from the commemorative publication on the occasion of the inauguration of the German Hunting Museum in the north wing of Nymphenburg Palace in October 1938.

The central entrance portal with access to the orangery hall is located under the clock tower of the north wing (orangery wing). The Hubertus and Johannisal are on the upper floor. The three halls go back to renovations by Johann Baptist Gunetzrhainer and are now used as event rooms . In the western part of the orangery wing facing the park, the Museum of Man and Nature has been housed since 1990 .

In the adjoining north wing of the castle is now the Maria Ward elementary school. Since 1718 there were monastery wings for Capuchins and from 1730 for the education of girls by Augustinian choir women . After the secularization, the English Fräulein continued this task at the instigation of Ludwig I with an extensive boarding school. This livelihood was withdrawn from the nuns in 1937. At the instigation of Christian Weber , the German Hunting Museum was built on this site. The precious monastery church from the Baroque period was gutted and converted into a reading room. After the final destruction by a bomb hit in World War II , the Maria Ward Primary School was housed here. Maria Ward came to Munich in 1627 after fleeing Rome, was sponsored by Elector Maximilian I and founded an educational institution for girls.


The palace complex houses several museums :

Castle Park

Main article: Nymphenburg Palace Park

Statue in the castle park

With the castle a small garden in the Italian style was created. In the years from 1701 to 1704 changes and extensions of the garden in the style of the French baroque were created. The creation of an extensive landscape park based on the English model began in 1804 with the southern part of the park, which was completed in 1807, and was completed with the northern part in 1810-1823.

The central canal with the Great Cascade divides the landscape park of the Nymphenburg Park into a northern and a southern area. The water is supplied from the west of the Würm via the Pasing-Nymphenburg Canal , which is part of the northern Munich canal system . The water is diverted to the east and northeast via two canals and via the Hartmannshofer Bach to the north.

In the southern part there is the larger Badenburg lake with the temple of Apollo and the Badenburg . The green fountain house with the water mill for the pressure pumps of the garden fountain in the village is on the southern canal, which maintains the level of the Würm Canal. The Amalienburg determines the southeast part of the park.

In the northern part there is the smaller Pagodenburger See with the Pagodenburg . The botanical garden in the northeast is not part of the Nymphenburg Park; it is partially separated from the park by a wall and a road. The Magdalenenklause is located in the north-eastern part of the park.

In the north there is the Kapuzinerhölzl and Hartmannshofer Wald forest .


Panorama Nymphenburg Palace from the city side

The palace and park represent an important economic factor for Munich, the main palace alone is visited by more than 300,000 guests annually. In 2019 there were 323,575 and thus a good 11,500 fewer visitors than in 2018. Nymphenburg is well in front of Schleißheim Palace , but now behind the Residenz Museum in the Munich Residenz . At Neuschwanstein with around 1.44 million visitors no lock passes in Bavaria.

The concert series “ Nymphenburg Palace Concerts ” has been taking place in the Hubertussaal since 2004 and has since been attended by over 35,000 people. The Nymphenburg Talks have been taking place in the vicinity of the palace since 2007 .

The castle itself is also the seat of the Bavarian Administration of State Palaces, Gardens and Lakes .

Monument protection

The ensemble is registered as an architectural monument in the Bavarian list of monuments. To realize the planned new building for the Life Science Museum "BIOTOPIA", large parts of the north wing of Nymphenburg were removed as individual monuments in December 2016. Since then they have only been under ensemble protection.

UNESCO World Heritage tentative list

The Nymphenburg Palace Park from 1948 to 1996 on the German tentative list, a list of suggestions for potential UNESCO World Heritage sites. In 2020, there is no architectural monument in the list of UNESCO World Heritage in Munich .


  • Georg Dehio : Handbook of the German art monuments. Bayern IV, Munich and Upper Bavaria. Darmstadt 1990. ( Munich section , Nymphenburg palace complex ).
  • Doris Fuchsberger and Albrecht Vorherr: Nymphenburg Palace under the swastika , Allitera Verlag , Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-86906-605-9 .
  • Doris Fuchsberger and Albrecht Vorherr: Nymphenburg Palace: Buildings, People, History, Allitera Verlag Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-86906-749-0 .
  • Georg A. Gut: Nymphenburg Palace: the prehistory and the three perspectives in the park . Gut Verlag, Munich 2004.
  • Norbert Hierl-Deronco: It is a pleasure to build: from clients, builders and from building in the Baroque in Kurbayern - Franconia - Rhineland , Krailling 2001, ISBN 3-929884-08-9 .
  • Gerhard Hojer (arrangement): The beauty gallery of King Ludwig I. Verlag Schnell & Steiner Munich, 2nd edition 1983, ISBN 3-7954-0705-2 .
  • Gerhard Hojer u. Elmar D. Schmid (arrangement): Nymphenburg: Palace, Park and Castles. Official leader . Bavarian Administration of State Castles and Lakes, 22nd edition, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-932982-16-9 .
  • Horst Lohmann (author), Museum Education Center (ed.): In the summer palace of the Wittelsbachers: Nymphenburg, palace and park; a workbook of the MPZ . 7th edition, Museum Pedagogical Center, Munich 1987.
  • Jean Louis Schlim: Ludwig II. - Dream and Technology . MünchenVerlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-937090-43-6 . Fountain and fountain house in the Nymphenburg Palace Park.
  • Helga Voigt: At home with the Wittelsbachers: Nymphenburg Palace and its park . In: Stattreisen München eV (Ed.): Walks into the past of Munich , 1st edition, Ars-vivendi-Verlag, Cadolzburg 2004, pp. 26–34, ISBN 3-89716-497-3 .

Web links

Nymphenburg Palace, behind the palace park
Commons : Nymphenburg Palace  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Roswitha von Bary: Henriette Adelaide. Electress of Bavaria . Unchanged reprint of the original edition Munich 1980. Pustet, Regensburg 2004, ISBN 3-7917-1873-8 , p. 246 .
  2. ^ Bary: Henriette Adelaide . Regensburg 2004, p. 247 .
  3. ^ Bary: Henriette Adelaide . Regensburg 2004, p. 244 .
  4. a b South German Baroque. Retrieved August 23, 2020 .
  5. Friedenheim original position sheets 1856. Retrieved on August 23, 2020 .
  6. http://www.sueddeutscher-barock.ch/ Nymphenburg Palace
  7. ^ Josef Hugo Biller, Hans-Peter Rasp: Munich Art & Culture. City guide and manual . 15th completely revised edition. Ludwig, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-7787-5125-5 , p. 389, 392 .
  8. The Munich residence becomes a record residence. AZ Munich, February 5, 2020, accessed on June 14, 2020 .
  9. List of monuments for Munich (PDF) at the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation, file number E-1-62-000-43 .

Coordinates: 48 ° 9 ′ 29 ″  N , 11 ° 30 ′ 13 ″  E