Ludwigsburg Palace, nicknamed the 'Versailles of Swabia', is a 452-room palace complex of 18 buildings located in Ludwigsburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Its total area, including the gardens, is 32ha (79 acres)–the largest palatial estate in the country. The palace has four wings: the northern wing, the Alter Hauptbau, is the oldest and was used as a ducal residence; the east and west wings were used for court purposes and housing guests and courtiers; the southern wing, the Neuer Hauptbau, was built to house more court functions and was later used as a residence.
Eberhard Louis, Duke of Württemberg, appointed Philipp Joseph Jenisch to direct the work and construction began in 1704. In 1707, Jenisch was replaced with Johann Friedrich Nette, who completed the majority of the palace and surrounding gardens. Nette died in 1714, and Donato Giuseppe Frisoni finished much of the palace facades. In the final year of construction, Eberhard Louis died and the Neue Hauptbau's interiors were left incomplete. Charles Eugene's court architect, Philippe de La Guêpière, completed and refurbished parts of the New Hauptbau in the Rococo style, especially the palace theatre. Charles Eugene abandoned the palace for Stuttgart in 1775. Duke Frederick II, later King Frederick I, began using Ludwigsburg as his summer residence in the last years of Charles Eugene's reign. Frederick and his wife Charlotte, Princess Royal, resided at Ludwigsburg and employed Nikolaus Friedrich von Thouret to renovate the palace in the Neoclassical style. Thouret converted much of Ludwigsburg's interiors over the reign of Frederick and later life of Charlotte. As a result of each architect's work, Ludwigsburg is a combination of Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, and Empire style architecture.
The constitutions of the Kingdom and Free People's State of Württemberg were ratified at Ludwigsburg Palace, in 1819 and 1919 respectively. It was the residence for four of Württemberg's monarchs and some other members of the House of Württemberg and their families. The palace was opened to the public in 1918 and survived World War II intact. It underwent periods of restoration in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1990s and again for the palace's 300th anniversary in 2004. The palace had more than 350,000 visitors in 2017 and has hosted the Ludwigsburg Festival every year since 1947.
Surrounding the palace are the Blooming Baroque (Blühendes Barock) gardens, arranged in 1954 as they might have appeared in 1800. Nearby is Schloss Favorite, a hunting lodge built in 1717 by Frisoni. Within the palace are two museums operated by the Landesmuseum Württemberg dedicated to fashion and porcelain respectively.
'Ludwigsburg,' meaning 'Louis's castle,' was named after its builder, Eberhard Louis, Duke of Württemberg, in 1705. It had been previously known as the Erlachhof, a traditional hunting estate and lodge of the Dukes of Württemberg that was destroyed in 1692, during the Nine Years' War. Eberhard Louis commissioned a replacement lodge that was built from 1697 to 1701. Construction was interrupted by the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession, fought against France and Bavaria. Württemberg resisted entry into the war until late 1702. Two years later, Eberhard Louis participated in the Allied victory at the Battle of Blenheim that was followed by the exile of the Bavarian Elector. The duke used the battle to press claims to Bavarian lands, but he illegally occupied those lands and was further weakened by a French invasion of Württemberg in 1707. As a result of this attack, the ducal residence in the capital, Stuttgart, was burned and the royal family fled to Switzerland. With the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the occupied Bavarian territory and status of the exiled Elector were restored.
Construction of Ludwigsburg Palace began in May 1704 with the laying of the Alter Hauptbau's cornerstone by Eberhard Louis. The year before, he sent Philipp Joseph Jenisch[de] to study architecture abroad. Eberhard Louis made Jenisch director of construction upon his return the next year, but he only managed to finish the Alter Hauptbau's (Old main building) first floor and some of the southern garden before 1707. The duke spent the winter of 1705–06 at Nymphenburg Palace, residence of the Elector of Bavaria, and was impressed by what he saw there and in architectural publications. Unable to compete with Bavaria militarily or politically, Eberhard Louis decided to build a new palace and town inspired by Versailles, which would be the center of his domestic society and diplomacy. Located 10 kilometers (6.2mi) from Stuttgart, Eberhard Louis could set up a court with his mistress, Wilhelmine von Grävenitz, and demonstrate his absolutist status as a monarch. Eberhard Louis lost faith in Jenisch's ability and in 1707 replaced him with Johann Friedrich Nette, an engineer. By 1709, it had become apparent that the massive undertaking of the palace's construction eventually necessitated the building of a town, also known as Ludwigsburg. That cost of construction provoked financial consequences, opposition at court, and criticism from the populace. A major retrenchment of court functions took place in 1709 that shrank the orchestra to eight members. That same year, after a fatal workplace accident at the palace, a pastor in nearby Oßweil[de] said of the palace at his pulpit, 'May God spare our land the chastising that the Ludwigsburg brood of sinners conjure.'[a]
Nette was now charged with building a complete Baroque palace from Jenisch's central corps de logis, to which an east wing and a west wing were to be added, aligned at 11°. Nette based his plans on those of Jenisch, enabling him to complete his design for a three-wing palace in the same year as his appointment. The galleries of the Alter Hauptbau were completed in 1707, then the corps de logis the next year. The Ordensbau and Riesenbau were constructed from 1709 to 1713, and their interiors were completed in 1714. Nette began the interior of the Alter Hauptbau, which he would never finish. Construction of the building's pavilions dragged on into 1722. Nette made two trips to Prague and his native Brandenburg to expand his pool of talent. He hired Johann Jakob Stevens von Steinfels[de], Tomasso Soldati, and Donato Giuseppe Frisoni in 1708, Andreas Quitainner in 1709, and then Luca Antonio Colomba, Riccardo Retti and Diego Francesco Carlone. Nette fled to Paris from an accusation of embezzlement from Jenisch's allies but was ordered back to Ludwigsburg by Eberhard Louis. On his return trip, he died suddenly of a stroke on 9 December 1714 in Nancy at the age of 41. At the time of his death, most of the northern section of the modern palace and its northern garden was complete.
Eberhard Louis stunted an attempt by Jenisch to reprise his previous role as director, replacing Nette in 1715 with Frisoni. Frisoni, although having no formal training in architecture, enjoyed the support of the court chamberlain and impressed the duke with his stucco work in the Alter Hauptbau. Frisoni resumed construction with the palace's churches, beginning the Schlosskapelle in 1716 and the Ordenskapelle in 1720, then finished the Kavalierbauten (Cavaliers' Buildings) in 1722. Frisoni also added the mansard roof to the top of the Alter Hauptbau, as its flat roof was prone to water damage. This had become a common issue with Nette's work because of the pressure the duke placed on him to finish the palace as soon as possible. Frisoni's work thus far led him to believe that he did not have a large enough talent pool to satisfy the duke's desires for the palace and town, so Frisoni brought in Giacomo Antonio Corbellini and Paolo Retti, his brother and son-in-law respectively, who were followed by Diego Carlone in 1718.
In 1721, the duke began to run out of room in the Alter Hauptbau for the functions of his court and Frisoni bega...