Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrSituated spectacularly on an island in the middle of the Schweriner See in Germany’s Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state, the Schwerin Castle (or Schwerin Palace) is considered one of the most important examples of romantic Historicism in all of Europe. While serving as a former palatial residence for the grand dukes, today it houses parliamentarians from the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state, as well as a museum illustrating the castle’s history, and has been designated as a World Heritage Site.
HistoryWhile records show that a fort was built on this location as early as AD 973, the current castle was built between 1845 and 1857 by architects Gottfried Semper, Friedrich August Stüler, Georg Adolf Demmler, and Ernst Friedrich Zwirner to serve as a home for the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg. Its construction was ordered by Grand Duke Friedrich who disliked the clash of architectural styles and withering condition of the building that was currently on the site. It was his successor, Friedrich Franz II, however, who saw out the complete reconstruction, with only a few elements dating from the 16th and 17th century buildings retained. Its architecture was inspired by French Renaissance castles and completed by successive architects over the 12-year period.
In 1913, around a third of the palace was destroyed in a fire and reconstruction was still in process when the revolution of 1918 resulted in the Grand Duke being abdicated. Following its period as a museum, it became the seat of the state parliament in 1948, and then a college for kindergarten teachers between 1952 and 1981. Some rooms were used as an art museum from around 1974, with the Orangerie home to a technical museum from 1961.
From 1990 it become the seat of the Landtag , the state assembly of the State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, with extensive renovations conducted and increased efforts to preserve what has become affectionately referred to as the ‘Neuschwanstein of the north’.
While much of the palace is off-limits to the public, an area designated as a museum is open to visitors, and offers a glimpse of life for the former Grand Dukes who once resided here. Altogether, the building has 653 elaborately decorated rooms, most with marquetry floors, while carvings, gilding, and stucco adorn the walls and ceilings.
Visiting the MuseumThe precious objects and artwork collected over the centuries by the Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg are now on display within Schwerin Palace’s museum, open to the public. With its lavishly decorated facade, turrets, and towers, the palace is itself a work of art as one of the most prominent and stunning examples of romantic Historicism.
The museum details the history of the Grand Dukes and their reign, with recreated living rooms and banquet halls displaying their elaborate furnishings and finishes, while the walls and ceilings are richly ornamented. Throne apartments, following Napoleon’s example, were built in a ceremonial order and Schwerin is the only place these can be found in Europe today. The throne room, with its columns made from Carrara marble and gilded cast-iron doors, is probably the palace’s most exquisite feature. The ancestral gallery and dining room with intricate paneling are also noteworthy.
Panoramic views of the surrounding lake can be found from the round tower room, designed as a garden salon, while beautiful, landscaped, Baroque gardens surround the building. The children’s rooms exhibit porcelain from Meissen and Berlin, while a large collection of antique hunting arms are also on display. Regular concerts, most commonly of classical music, are held within this stunning setting.
The Ghost of SchwerinLegend tells of a ghost, Petermännchen (‘Peterman’), who is believed to walk the hallways and resembles a cavalier in 17th century dress. He is said to be only a few feet high and visible to a limited few.
Nearby AttractionsSchwerin Castle is situated near Hanseatic Rostock, the largest town in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which exhibits stunning brick Gothic architecture, while the UNESCO-listed historic center of nearby Wismar illustrates a typical Hanseatic town during the 14th century. There are some beautiful walks on offer in the surrounding countryside and Friedrichsmoor hunting lodge is a small, historic, country house which makes an ideal place to relax and rejuvenate.
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Author: Pip Strickland. Last updated: Mar 16, 2015