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A royal visit to Schloss Nymphenburg

LAVISH AND BEAUTIFUL

 Standing in the rococo Great Hall of Schloss Nymphenburg, it’s easy to imagine Mozart, not yet six years old, performing for the Elector, the Electress and the royal court in 1763.

It was just the kind of intimate, exquisite event for which the room and palace were designed. A sumptuous jewel box, Nymphenburg provided the setting for summer pantomimes and concerts, picnics and card games which animated Bavarian court life.

Construction of Nymphenburg began in 1664, on farmland given to the Electress Henriette Adelaide by her husband in celebration of the birth of their first son. A summer villa, it was planned as an alternative to the royal residence in town.Work continued on the castle and grounds almost without interruption, until the middle of the 18th century and the result is one of the most beautiful – and largest – baroque-rococo palaces intact today.Until 1918, Nymphenburg was the residence of the Wittelsbach dynasty, Bavaria’s ruling family.

It is easy to join a tour that will take you to Schloss Nymphenburg. But you might consider visiting the castle independently. By car, the palace is only 20 minutes away from Munich and given the variety of things to see, adhering to a tour guide’s timetable can be a constraint.The frescoes and furnishings of the interior are worth lingering over. So is Ludwig the First’s famous ‘Gallery of Beauties’, portraits of 38 women who caught the Prince’s eye, from the shoemaker’s daughter to the Irish adventurous, Lola Montez, who became the royal mistress.

You can wander through the Elector’s elegant suite of rooms and then the matching suite for the Electress. They are connected by lavishly ornamented galleries and a variety of small rooms.
You’ll need time for the beautiful gardens, too, and for visits to the pavilions: a tea house designed as a pagoda, the royal bathing house and sauna, and best of all, “Amalienburg,” a hunting lodge iced in crystal and gilt and fitted with a hall of mirrors.
Its truly spectacular kitchen, walls and ceiling, covered in Dutch tiles in a Chinoiserie pattern, is situated right beside the Electress’ writing room. As was explained to the young Mozart and his sister on their visit, the late Electress wanted the kitchen near her, not in the basement or in an outbuilding, because she liked to cook.
Other attractions of Nymphenburg include the greenhouses, the royal coach house, the porcelain museum and a shop in which you can buy the famous Nymphenburg porcelain. The porcelain factory, which was brought here in 1761, is still housed in the castle’s “Cavalier Lodge”.

Schloss Nymphenburg and its gardens can be visited from 9am to 12.30pm and from 1.30pm to 5pm every day except Monday. You can reach the palace by public transport (tram number 17 or bus number 41) or by tour bus from Munich. The ideal solution, however, is to hire a car with a knowledgeable guide-driver : www.taxi-guide-muenchen.de

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