Augustusburg Palace in the town of Bruehl near the city of Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Some background information:
Augustusburg Palace and Falkenlust Hunting Lodge form a historical building complex located in the town of Bruehl at the edge of the Rhineland Nature Park, about 20 km (12.5 miles) south of the city centre of Cologne. The building complex and the spacious gardens that connect both buildings have been listed as a UNESCO cultural World Heritage Site since 1984. Augustusburg Palace and its parks also serve as a venue for the Bruehl Palace Concerts. Furthermore, the Max Ernst Museum is located nearby.
Already in the the 12th century, the archbishops of Cologne owned a deer park at this spot of land. In 1284, a moated castle was built by archbishop Siegfried that was meant to be a bulwark against the city of Cologne. In 1298, this stronghold was completed. The castle was enhanced by archbishop Walram. But in 1689, in the course of the Nine Years' War, it was blown up by French forces and hence destroyed completely.
Augustusburg Palace and Falkenlust Hunting Lodge were built at the beginning of the 18th century on the spot of the former castle by the Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, Clemens August of Bavaria of the Wittelsbach dynasty. The construction took place according to the plans of the German architect Johann Conrad Schlaun, who also used the former stronghold’s foundations for building the new palace. That’s why Augustusburg Palace has exactly the same width as the predecessor building.
The palace, which was the Archbishop-Elector’s favourite residence, is one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. While the gardens and the exterior facades of both the palace and the hunting lodge still represent high baroque architecture, the palace’s interior was designed in the Régence and Early Rococo styles. Its designer was the Belgian-born Bavarian architect François de Cuvilliés.
In 1728, he took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
Also in 1728, the Baroque gardens were designed by the French garden designer Dominique Girard according to French models. The gardens weren’t built axial to the main wing, but axial to the southern wing, which was quite unusual. In the 19th century, main parts of the gardens were re-landscaped into an English style landscape garden by the Prussian garden designer Peter Joseph Lenné. However, between 1933 and 1935, the gardens were again reconstructed under the old plans of 1728.
But although Archbishop-Elector of Cologne Clemens August of Bavaria loved Augustusburg Palace, it was only used as a summer residence and hunting château and therefore was only occupied by him for six weeks each year. The Electoral Palace in the city of Bonn and Poppelsdorf Palace in the Poppelsdorf district of Bonn remained his main residences.
At the end of World War II the palace was damaged heavily. But already in 1946, restoration work began. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
Today, Augustusburg Palace, Falkenlust Hunting Lodge and the gardens are open to the public. The complex is viewed by almost 200,000 visitors each year and therefore is economically rather important for the town of Bruehl.