From the World Heritage inscription:
Augustusburg and Falkenlust present the first important creations of the Rococo style in Germany. For more than a century, they served as models for most of the princely courts. Like the Residence of Würzburg, the castles and gardens are outstanding examples of the large princely residence of the 18th century.
Set in an idyllic garden landscape, Augustusburg Castle, the sumptuous residence of the prince-archbishops of Cologne, and the Falkenlust hunting lodge, a small rural folly, are among the earliest examples of Rococo architecture in 18th-century Germany.
A Rococo masterpiece, the castle of Augustusburg is directly linked to the great European architecture of the first half of the 18th century. In 1715, Josef-Clemens of Bavaria, Prince-Elector of Cologne, planned to construct a large residence at Brühl, on the foundations of a medieval castle. He consulted a French architect, Robert de Cotte, who sent the plans. However, this project was not immediately followed up and Prince-Elector Clemens-August, who was less francophile than his father, rejected de Cotte’s proposals and in 1725 called on a Westphalian architect, Johann Conrad Schlaun, to build the castle that was to carry his name.
My first impression of the Augustusburg Palace was that it was a smaller version of Versailles or of Schönbrunn Palace. That is in fact what it is. The palace was built as the summer residence of Clemens-August. He was one of the seven prince-electors in the Holy Roman Empire and the archbishop of Cologne. He also had 3 other bishop positions as well as being the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order. Needless to say he had a lot of money.
The high point of the palace is the grand staircase which was designed to give an amazing first impression to visitors of the palace.
Visiting the palace from Cologne is very simple. Just take any train to Brühl. It is about a 15 minute ride from the Cologne Central train station (Köln Hauptbahnhof or Hbf). When you walk out of the Brühl train station you will immediately see the palace. Its driveway ends at the train station.
This was the third stop on my November 2011 Eurail pass trip in Europe.
View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.