Before visiting Nymphenburg, you need to get yourself into a “think big” frame of mind –
so just take a moment, close your eyes and imagine: King Kong, monster trucks, Oktoberfest beer mugs, America’s deficit.
You there yet?
If yes, you may be ready to confront the Triple Quarter Pounder of palaces, Munich’s Nymphemburg.
Think of the grandeur!
SIZE COUNTS: Nymphenburg Palace
is over 650m long. Pic: Wilfried Hösl /
As you approach, imagine that you’re a visiting head-of-state in days of old. Your royal carriage cracks down the road alongside a swan-filled canal and 'round a powerful fountain.
The palace is now right ahead of you, no, make that all around you! Royal footmen are standing by to open the carriage door.
You step out to the sound of tooting trumpets and bow your head to the king and queen at the top of the staircase. “First a tour, my lord and lady?”
In the beginning
SHOWPIECE: The Steinerer Saal
at Nymphenburg Palace was used
to host royal balls.
The lobby/gift shop is on the ground floor of the central pavilion. This is the oldest part of the palace, built (1664) as a gift from Elector Ferdinand Maria to his wife Adelaide of Savoy.
She’d just given birth to future ruler Max Emanuel I and apparently deserved something special. Young Max himself added the north and south pavilions about 40 years later.
Most of the Wittelsbachs used the palace as a summer residence, then outside the city of Munich but now surrounded by suburbs.
The main structure is over 650m long, and about twice that if you count the Rondells (rounds) that curve around at the front.
Have a ball
First stop on your tour is the Steinerner Saal (Stone Hall)
, a massive Rococo ballroom with chandeliers bigger than some Soviet-era automobiles.
This is one of those rooms where you can get neck cramps because you’re compelled to walk around looking up at what’s above you.
Click on the pic above to see a scopic panorama shot of Nymphenburg Palace and its Rondells. So, big enough for ya?
The ceiling is consumed with an elaborate fresco by Johann Zimmermann and his son Franz. In July the hall comes alive for the Nymphenburger Sommerspiele
The north side
LANDSCAPED SURROUNDS: My mum
on her visit to Nympenburg Palace in 2008.
Take the passageway right of the entrance and turn left through a sub-room to reach the Gobelinzimmer (tapestry room)
Max Emanuel’s bedroom
He had it decorated with nine paintings of women he “met” during a spell in exile in Paris.
The women are depicted as goddesses, suggesting Max had a rather jolly old time in the City of Light.
Double back to the sub-room and turn left into the hallway filled with paintings of other Bavarian palaces. They were painted by F. J. Beich (1722-1723) and many no longer exist. Off the hallway is the Wappenzimmer (Heraldic Room)
and more portraits of pretty ladies.
Art from the Orient
FROZEN: Nymphenburg Palace looks
stunning under snow.
Now go back to the Steinerer Hall and through to the rooms on the south side.
Turn right again through a trio of lavish living rooms to find the Chinesisches Lackkabinett (Chinese Lacquer Room)
at the end, covered with depictions of country life in the Far East.
Double back and turn left through a hallway with yet more Bavarian palaces and prepare for the palace highlight.
SIMPLE BEAUTY: Helene Sedlmayr
ended up marrying the
King's valet. She was originally
from Trostberg in southern Bavaria.
From 1726 the Southern Pavilion
was reserved for Bavaria’s royal women: The Queens and electresses. Fitting, perhaps, that’s its main hall is now home to one of Nymphenburg Palace's biggest drawcards, the Schönheitengalarie (Gallery of Beauties)
The walls are filled with portraits of 36 girls picked out by King Ludwig I and painted by Joeseph Stieler from 1826 to 1850.
The good king wanted only the most bootylicious, and the girls are drawn from all strata of society.
Sultry temptress and all-round rabble-rouser Lola Montez is featured, her hair strewn with red flowers framing the flame within.
HER NAME WAS LOLA: Lola Montez
caused one of the scandals
of the century through her
relationship with King Ludwig I.
Lola’s dishy to be sure, but I think the most dollsome is the doey-eyed Helene Sedlmayr. She went on to bear 10 children indicating that someone else couldn’t get enough of her, either.
The daughter of a shoemaker, Helene encountered the king when she was working as a shop assistant in a Munich toy store.
She became known as the “Schöne Münchenerin”, the start of a stereotype which holds that Munich girls are, well, pretty damned hot.
Click here for more info about Helene Sedlmayr
A “fairy-tale” was born
BIRTH OF A LEGEND: Mad King Ludwig II was
born in this room at Nymphenburg Palace.
Filling out the southern pavilion of Nymphenburg Palace is the Maserzimmer
, with portraits of King Ludwig I and his wife.
The Blauer Salon
features 200-year-old Parisian furniture and the bedroom next door was where Bavaria’s fairytale king, Ludwig II
, was born.
Random unsolicited suggestion
Combine your trip to Nymphenburg with a visit to the nearby Hirschgarten, the world's biggest garden.
The brew is fresh, the pretzels delicious and there's even a deer enclosure.
There are plenty more sights to discover at Schloss Nymphenburg aside from the main palace. In the park behind the main building you’ll find a smattering of small palaces the rulers used as retreats.
They’re all well worth a look, read about the Nymphenburg Park Palaces
You can see how Bavarian kings and queens used to roll in the Marstall Museum
, which holds a fascinating collection of royal sleighs and carriages.
PARK HOUSE: The Pagodenburg is
one of four Nymphenburg Palaces to visit.
The adjoining Nymphenburg Porcelain Museum
holds thousands of fascinating pieces from the famous Nymphenburg Porzelanmanufaktur
The Museum Mensch und Natur
(Humanity and Nature Museum) makes another worthy side stop.
This museum explores humanity and history of the Earth. It's in Nymphenburg’s north wing.
Great for kids.
MAP OF NYMHPENBURG:
Click on the map to
see a larger version to
Location: Schloss Nymphenburg 1, 5km northwest of the city centre.
Phone: 089 17 90 80
Nymphenburg "combination tickets" cost 10€ (8€ concession) from April 1 to October 15.
They cost 8€ (6€ concession) from October 16 to March 31.
This ticket gives you access to the palaces, the Marstallmuseum, the Nymphenburg Porcelain Museum and the Nymphenburg park palaces (the Amalienburg, Badenburg, Pagodenburg and Magdalenenklause).
Open: Nymphenburg Palace is open daily. From April to October 15, 9am to 6pm. From October 16 to March 10am to 4pm.
Directions: To Nymphenburg Palace, take any S-Bahn to Laim. Head to the left once you leave the station and it's a 20min walk along Wotan Strasse and left at Romansplatz (or you can take bus No 51 from Laim).
▪You can also take Tram No. 16 or 17 from outside the Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station), or No 12 from Rotkreuzplatz (direction Romansplatz or Amalienburgstrasse).
▪See here for Munich transport maps.
Guided tours: There are no guided tours of Nymphenburg Palace but audio guides are available in German, English, Italian, Spanish and Russian.
For visitors in wheelchairs: All sights off the ground floor are accessible via lift, but there are a few steps to negotiate in the park palaces.
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