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The oldest ecclesiastical Baroque residence on the Upper Rhine

Bruchsal Palace

Luftbild von Schloss Bruchsal mit Kuppel der Hofkirche im Vordergrund; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende
St. Damian and Hugo

The palace church

The former palace church of Bruchsal Palace was the pro-cathedral of the Bishopric of Speyer, which is to say the second episcopal church after the Speyer Cathedral. It was once painted by the famous artist, Cosmas Damian Asam. Today, its interior is modern in design.

Palace church, gate guardhouse, and corps de logis of Bruchsal Palace, view from the southeast. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

The palace church is located in a side wing.

One church, many functions

From the outside, it can't be recognized as a church: St. Damian and Hugo lies in the palace's southern wing, next to the main courtyard. Its tower, designed by Balthasar Neumann in 1740, was moved away from the narrow palace area for reasons of symmetry. Only a long passage connects it to the church. It once had many functions: Pro-cathedral of the bishopric, palace church, and parish church. Young priests-to-be were educated in the neighboring priests' seminary.

Historic interior with a view of the choir in the palace church of Bruchsal Palace, photo circa 1870. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Georg Maria Eckert

The palace church circa 1870, before its destruction in war.

Famous: Cosmas Damian Asam

A bright ceiling painting, dark marble and stucco marble, life-sized sculptures: this was the ceremonial presentation of the palace church in the time of the prince-bishops. Its decor was particularly important to Prince-Bishop Damian Hugo von Schönborn. He invested a great deal of money in the frescoes and engaged the famous painter, Cosmas Damian Asam. The interactions between the painter and Schönborn were sometimes difficult, but the results of his work were impressive. In bright pastel tones, he painted scenes from the history of St. Cosmas, Damian, and Hugo.

Salvaged from the wreckage

Out of the wreckage of the church, nine small bronze statuettes of the apostles were salvaged 1945. Today, they can once again be seen in the church, one of the few elements of the old church that have been preserved. The figures are part of a group of Christ, Mary, and the twelve apostles, made in Augsburg in 1593. Originally, they decorated the tabernacle of the high altar.

Drei barocke Apostelfiguren, Standort Hofkirche von Schloss Bruchsal; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

Slightly damaged, but preserved: the bronze statuettes of the apostles.

Interior of the palace church of Bruchsal Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff

Today, the palace church has a modern appearance.

Modern reconstruction

The church wing was rebuilt between 1960 and 1966. Architect Loth Götz designed the interior to be bright, modern, and intentionally modest. The decor was the work of renowned artists of the time. The sanctuary, now in the center of the church, and the bronze crucifix were designed by the Viennese sculptor, Fritz Wotruba. HAP Grieshaber, then a professor at the Art Academy in Karlsruhe, created the Stations of the Cross: He designed pressure plates for woodcarvings in white and gold and made them into splendid works of art.

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