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The oldest ecclesiastical Baroque residence on the Upper Rhine

Bruchsal Palace

Portrait of Balthasar Neumann, second half of the 18th century. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele
A planner in high demand

Balthasar Neumann

He began as a bell founder, engineer, and builder of fortifications, and went down in history as one of the most important architects of German Baroque and Rococo: Balthasar Neumann (1687–1753). In Bruchsal, he designed the famous staircase, and much more!

Bruchsal Palace, Ceiling Painting in the domed hall; Image: Dr. Manfred Schneider, Nußloch, www.manfred-schneider.de

Damian Hugo von Schönborn with the building plan for Bruchsal Palace.

How did Neumann come to Bruchsal?

Balthasar Neumann began working in the Prince-Bishopric of Würzburg in 1711. Members of the Schönborn family came into power there, twice. Philipp Franz von Schönborn, who ruled from 1719 to 1724, made Neumann the head construction manager of the Würzburg residence. Friedrich Karl von Schönborn, prince-bishop from 1729 to 1746, continued his employment. Both were brothers of the Prince-Bishop of Speyer. As was so often the case with the Schönborns, familial relationships brought architects and employers together.

View in the staircase in Meersburg New Palace with statues by Johann Ferdinand Schratt (1764) and part of the ceiling fresco by Joseph Ignaz Appiani (1761). Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Neumann's staircase in Meersburg New Palace.

Why was the architect so famous?

To this day, Neumann's late Baroque architecture impresses viewers with its special ambiance. The architect is famous for his stairways in the palaces in Bruchsal, Meersburg, Würzburg, and Brühl, as well as for many churches. His masterpiece is the Würzburg Residence. Its staircase was created in 1735, four years after Bruchsal's. Yet Neumann's carrier was successful not only because of his ability, but also because of ample support from the Schönborn family.

Bruchsal Palace, A look inside the vestibule; Image: Dr. Manfred Schneider, Nußloch, www.manfred-schneider.de

A masterpiece: the staircase of Bruchsal Palace.

What did Neumann create in Bruchsal?

Until his death in 1753, Neumann was responsible for the palace as the head architect and designed much more than just the stairway. The outside area in front of the palace, the church tower, the balconies, and the new connecting wing were created according to his plans, and he also designed a new water supply system. Artists who had previously worked in Würzburg came to the prince-bishop's court through his agency—truly a stroke of luck for Bruchsal. Finally, Neumann created another important building in the city: the Church of St. Peter, burial place of the prince-bishops.

50 Deutschmark bill with a portrait of Balthasar Neumann. Image: Deutsche Bundesbank

Balthasar Neumann on the 50 Deutschmark bill.

How was Neumann able to complete so many projects?

In his lifetime, Neumann created about 100 buildings. Of course, he couldn't be on site all the time. He traveled to Bruchsal a total of twelve times. Schönborn, who had also been the Prince-Bishop of Constance since 1740, also engaged him to work on Meersburg Palace. Neumann had an office with many employees. Johann Georg Seitz and Johann Georg Stahl, who sometimes worked in Bruchsal as construction managers, sent their sons to Neumann as apprentices.

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