UNESCO World Heritage Site #158: Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust

UNESCO World Heritage Site #158: Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust
UNESCO World Heritage Site #158: Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust

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.

Overview

Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust

The Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Germany. It was inscribed into the list in 1984. Both of these castles are located in the city of Bruhl in Germany. They are considered masterpieces of the rococo architectural style. Both of these castles were built in the 18th century for Clemens August, who was the archbishop of Cologne during that time.

The construction of the Augustus Castle was started in 1725. It was Johann Conrad Schlaun that was initially tapped as the architect for this project. However, Clemens August wanted a more modern style for the castles to be built. Three years later, Francois Cuvillies was chosen to work on this project. Several other artists helped him to transform the castle into what it is now. In particular, Balthasar Neumann is responsible for the design of the marble staircase that the Augustus Castle is famous for.

Meanwhile, the Falkenlust Castle is a hunting castle. Aside from Cuvillies, Architect Leveilly also helped out in the design of this castle.

About Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust

Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust

The town of Bruhl is located near Cologne, Germany. The main block of the Augustus Palace features a U-shaped building. This building consists of three storeys and two-level attics. As mentioned above, the staircase at the Augustus Castle is one of its most compelling features. This was specifically designed for by Clemens August in order to impress the visitors to this castle.

The gardens of the Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust are also notable. In particular, the gardens and park in the Augustus Castle were designed to be somewhat similar in style as the Versailles Palace in France. An elaborate flower garden was built south of the palace. This garden, however, was reconstructed in the 19th century by Peter Joseph Lenne. It was then that he turned the flower garden into a landscaped garden.

Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust

Another component of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Falkenlust hunting lodge. Aside from building castles, another one of Clemens August’s favorite hobbies include hunting. This lodge was built from 1729 to 1740. The style of this hunting lodge was patterned after the Amalienburg hunting lodge. Following the Second World War and until 1994, the Augustus Castle was used as a reception hall for guests by the German President.

Both of these castles are neither the most beautiful nor the most famous castles in Germany. Nonetheless, they earn the distinction for their influence in the creation of other princely courts that followed it. This is true in terms of the grandeur in style and the interior design of both castles. Hence, they are a must-visit in Germany for those interested in architecture and history. There are guided tours provided for the Augustus Castle but Falkenlust is available to be explored by anyone who wishes to do so.


View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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