NYMPHENBURG PARK PALACES: As if Nympenburg Palace wasn’t grandiose enough.
Its royal residents also built a series of smaller chateaus in the Palace Park.
The Wittelsbachs used these retreats for swimming, throwing parties, hunting and a rare spot of navel-gazing. They’re also known as the Lustschlösser, or “pleasure palaces” and it’s fun to go through them and pick out your favourite.
Sometimes kings would peruse another kind of “lust” inside (wink, wink). They were handy houses for late-night trysts with beautiful mistresses, well away from the room where the queen slept.
You then go through to the showpiece Hall of Mirrors, where royal balls took place. Imagine a party powered by dozens of candles, their light intensified to the Nth degree by the mirrors on the walls – the effect must have been amazing.
Next up is the Hunting Room, its walls packed with portraits of the chase.
The Kitchen, covered by tiles with Chinese and Dutch motifs, rounds out the Amalienburg.
Continue south along the path around to the right along the canal. You’ll pass the former menagerie to the left and see a little village of white-washed houses to the right.
Keep going on to my personal favourite of the Nymphenburg Park Palaces….
This Schloss sits on the shore of a sizey lake.
The Badenburg was where the royals would go for a languid dip in a huge heated pool.
You enter into the airy Banquet Hall with its white-stuccoed walls embracing an elaborate ceiling fresco overhead. Image the regents entertaining nobles here before inviting a few lucky souls back for a dip in the bath.
Pass through the Anteroom to the left to see the bedroom, decked with Chinese-themed wallpaper. Through a small door here is the so-called “Affenkabinett” or “monkey cabinet", a richly decorated dressing room and study.
The pool is back through the Anteroom to the right– you enter into a marble-panelled gallery overlooking the basin.
Ruler Max Emmanuel was so inspired by the luxury of Turkish baths he built this one for himself in 1722. The original water-heating system still works. Peer down to the bath tiles to see inlaid Dutch windmills.
Back outside again take a breather and look across the lake. See the Greek temple on the far side?
It’s called the Monopteros and honours the Greek über-god Apollo.
He’s not the only Greek deity in the palace park, as you’ll find as you cross over the bridge and see the statue of Pan, the god of shepherds. Continue on past a long field where, if you’re lucky, you’ll see a few deer moseying about.
Cross another bridge across the central canal and work your way around another lake to the smallest palace, the cute little…..
You step into a small blue-and-white Entrance Hall smothered with over 2000 Dutch tiles. A closer look reveals mini-portraits and landscapes.
The courtly fascination with all things Chinese continues upstairs – think dark wooden panels and rice paper wallpaper, offset by Parisian furniture.
Once you leave the Pagodenburg, follow the path back towards the main palace. Branch off to the left before you reach the Grand Parterre and you’ll find the (seemingly) oldest of the Nymphenburg small palaces….
This dilapidated little temple was where the royals came to peace out.
The building (built 1728) was designed with a ruined hermit’s cottage in mind, its brickwork exposed behind crumbling plaster.
This was a place of refuge for pondering “the
religious contemplation of the transitoriness of earthly lives”.
It’s also the only palace I’ve ever been into where you are required to put on oversized bathroom slippers and slide around.
It helps protect the original parquet floors.
The rooms are all dark and dreary except the Grotto Chapel, studded with bucket-loads of colourful seashells and stones.
The ceiling fresco is a tribute to Mary Magdalena.
▪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 Nymphenburg Palace, the Marstallmuseum, the Museum of Nymphenburg Porcelain and the Nymphenburg Park Palaces mentioned above (the Amalienburg, Badenburg, Pagodenburg and Magdalenenklause).
▪You can see the park palaces for 2€ (1€ concession) individually or 4€ (3€ concession) for the lot of them.
▪Another option is the "14-day ticket" which gives you entry into over 40 palaces and castles across Bavaria for 20€ (36€for partner and family tickets).
▪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.
Click on the map to see a larger version to print out.
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