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The oldest ecclesiastical Baroque residence on the Upper Rhine

Bruchsal Palace

Eingangshalle (Intrada) von Schloss Bruchsal; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
Entrance hall, grotto, Garden Hall

The ground floor

The rooms on the ground floor are full of paintings. Some of them create the appearance of three dimensions—typical Baroque! After World War II, most of the frescoes could be recreated. However, the Garden Hall still shows the consequences of the war today.

Illusionistic painting on the servants' floor in the entrance hall of Bruchsal Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Illusionistic painting on the servants' floor in the entrance hall.

A friendly reception

The entrance hall, or intrada, creates a lively first impression of the palace with its bright, illusionistic paintings. The ceiling fresco has a moral, Christian motif: the victory of the seven cardinal virtues over the sins. The gallery on the servants' floor can been seen above the side columns of the intrada. Damian Hugo von Schönborn had it built in 1726, deviating from the plans. The change required that the staircase be redesigned.

Room (grotto) on the ground floor of the palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer Bruchsal with columns and ceiling paintings

A subterranean twilight reigns in the grotto.

The grotto in the palace

There were artificial grottoes in many Baroque gardens. In Bruchsal Palace, a similar space was created in the interior. Despite many openings to the staircase, the grotto is only dimly lit, creating the impression of a cave. This type of space was intended to symbolize the earthly realm. Plants, shells, fountains, and river gods can be seen on the walls, references to the life-giving energy of water. On the ceiling, the painting gives a view of what lies above, in a sky populated with birds.

Artistically reconstructed paintings

Many of the paintings on the ground floor, which were created by Giovanni Francesco Marchini, were reconstructed after World War II. The stone benches along the walls are particularly lovely. It's tempting to sit down on them, but they're only painted on the walls! On the left wall, original remains of Marchini's frescoes have been preserved: depictions of antique temple ruins, colored red by the fire after the bombing in 1945.

Restaurierte Wandmalereien von Giovanni Francesco Marchini in der Grotte im Schloss Bruchsal, frühes 18. Jh., rot gefärbt durch Brandbomben von 1945; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
Restaurierte Wandmalereien von Giovanni Francesco Marchini in der Grotte im Schloss Bruchsal, frühes 18. Jh.; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
Restaurierte Wandmalereien von Giovanni Francesco Marchini in der Grotte im Schloss Bruchsal, frühes 18. Jh.; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

As though they were real: the river god, the bird, and the bank in front of the ruins in the grotto.

Garden Hall in Bruchsal Palace with visible war damage on the segmented vault and ceiling painting, with garden sculptures by Joachim Günther from 1762 on either side: photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth

The Garden Hall in Bruchsal Palace.

The Garden Hall is marked by the destruction

The wounds inflicted by World War II can be seen even more clearly in the Garden Hall: The choice was made not to fully reconstruct these paintings. After World War II, rain and frost damaged the unprotected ruins further. On the ceiling of the hall, the layer of paint peeled off, allowing Marchini's original sketches to become visible. The destruction and reconstruction of Bruchsal Palace is documented in the permanent exhibition, "Built, Destroyed, Rebuilt," left of the Garden Hall.

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