The Würzburg Residence (German: Würzburger Residenz) is a palace in Würzburg, southern Germany. Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt and Maximilian von Welsch, representants of the Austrian/South German Baroque were involved in the construction, as well as Robert de Cotte and Germain Boffrand, who were followers of the French Style. Balthasar Neumann, architect of the court of the Bishop of Würzburg, was the principal architect of the Residenz, which was commissioned by the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn and his brother Friedrich Carl von Schönborn in 1720, and completed in 1744.
The Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, assisted by his son, Domenico, painted frescoes in the building. Interiors include the grand staircase, the chapel, and the grand salon. The building was dubbed the "nicest parsonage in Europe" by Napoleon. It was heavily damaged during World War II, and restoration has been in progress since 1945.
The Prince-Bishops of Würzburg resided in the Fortress Marienberg until the early eighteenth century. Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn (1719–1724) moved the court to a palace erected in 1701 - 1704, the predecessor of the residence, but the rather small palace did not, in his opinion, measure up to his position as an absolute monarch. Having won a sum of 600,000 fl. (a fortune at the time) in a court case in the year of his accession, he used the funds to undertake a building project that would proclaim his political standing to all.
Under Prince-Bishop Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim, from 1769 until 1772, Materno and Ludovico Bossi created the stucco-work decoration over the staircase and in the first and second guest rooms of the northern Imperial Apartments. At the same time, the Green Lacquered Room and the Princes' Hall were finished. From 1776 to 1781, the Ingelheim Rooms were decorated, including stucco-work by Materno Bossi.
Inclusion in World Heritage List
The Würzburg Residence with its Court Gardens and Residence Square was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981. According to the Advisory Body Evaluation, the inclusion in the List was a "measure... so clearly desirable that the proposal of the Federal Republic of Germany does not require lengthy justification... The Residence is at once the most homogeneous and the most extraordinary of the Baroque palaces... It represents a unique artistic realization by virtue of its ambitious program, the originality of creative spirit and the international character of its workshop."
The Residence was constructed on a baseplate of 97 × 167 meters. It is arranged around several courts. On the side facing the town, there is a Cour d'honneur. The residence has almost 400 rooms. Most parts of the residence are occupied by a museum and organizations of the University of Würzburg. Originally, the Cour d'honneur was limited by an iron enclosure. This masterpiece of ironworks was demolished in 1821, because a member of the family of the King of Bavaria did not like them.
In Baroque style, the staircase gained importance as part of a formal reception room. The staircase of the Würzburg residence spans its vault, an area of 18 × 30 meters, without pillars. Beneath an unsupported trough vault, a masterpiece of construction with a maximum height of 23 meters which spans an area of 18 × 30 meters. The Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo decorated the vault with a fresco, showing paintings of the four continents: Europe, America, Asia and Africa. Each continent is represented by a typical landscape and animals (or the painter's vision of these animals) and a female allegorical figure.
The White Hall in Neoclassical style is dominated by the stucco decorations of Antonio Bossi. The white stucco works on a light gray background are composed of a large quantity of rocailles, a typical piece of decoration of the baroque style, mixed with images of real items, especially of military purpose.
The walls of the Imperial Hall consist of stucco work marble in shades of red, white and yellow. The dome is painted in white color, decorated with golden stucco work and pictures by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, showing the history of the diocese of Würzburg. One picture shows the marriage of Emperor Fredrick I Barbarossa and princess Beatrix of Burgundy, consecrated by a Bishop of Würzburg.
The Residence was built within the fortified town. Therefore the garden too had to be planned within the fortifications. The solution included two bastions of the fortified town wall, using its differences in height to create very special landscape. From west to east there is a rise in ground, until the level of the wall is reached. Near the residence itself, the garden is designed in a very formal, Baroque style. Farther away, the style changes to an English garden with small forests and meadows.