Thousands of students come and go, probably without giving any thought to the fact that the offices of Mannheim University inhabit the finest residence to grace the banks of the Rhine River in the 18th century. Monumental in size, it dominates the modern townscape with its grid like street layout. In Germany, when you see straight roads in a cityscape, its a dead giveawy that an absolutist monach has been at work.
The foundation stone for a new palace, inspired by the great prototype at Versailles, was laid by the Elector Karl Philipp in 1720. This new residence for the Palatine Electors was to replace Heidelberg. Like the residences built by the margraves of Baden on the upper Rhine — Rastatt (1700) and Karlsruhe (1715) — it is an excellent expression of absolutist aspirations.
The palace took many decades to complete, and under Karl Theodor and Elizabeth Auguste it became a Court of Muses extolled far and wide. Epic making music was composed here and stage productions attracted wide acclaim. Mozart and Voltaire were among the most prominent guests.
The Mannheim Palace Chapel Interior
The palace was all but destroyed in the Second World War. It was rebuilt with replicas of the central tract and its magnificent stairs, the grand Knight’s Hall and the two adjoining rooms, and the two adjoining rooms, and now conveys an admirable impression of the splendor which surrounded the Palatine Wittelsbachs. The museum, with its exhibition of courtly art in Schloss Mannheim, opened in 1995 and is still expanding, a major renovation was just completed in April 2007. It tells the graphic story of this exceptional listed building from its origins to the days of the grand Dukes of Baden, who lived here during the 19th century.
The Lady’s Library
The Library made for Elizabeth Auguste (1721 — 1794), the wife of Palatine Elector Karl Theodor (1724 — 1799), on the ground floor of the corps de logis in Schloss Mannheim can be described as a rococo gem. The rectangular room in pale pastel colors radiate the lightness and frivolity typical of the period around 1760. No less an architect than the celebrated Nicolas de Pigage (1723 — 1796) provided the drawings for this highly ornate late rococo interior. It was destroyed during World War II and later restored to its original splendor.
Filigree in the form of subtly raised decorative elements recur throughout the room. The reconstructed floor of domestic and exotic woods contains the characteristic floral patterns of the 18th century and elegant curving forms. The window niches through which light floods the interior are symmetrically echoed by the structure of the walls. The room coherence in a harmonious whole. The painted wooden paneling with its guilt carvings, cherubs scenes and ornamentation reflects the stucco work and paintings. The interplay of shape and color so typical of rococo is demonstrated in exemplary fashion by the allegorical ceiling paintings showing Apollo surrounded by the Muses painted by Philipp Hieronymus Brinckmann.