Empty splendour at the Residenz Palace in Munich

December 31, 2009 by  

The Residenz is the palace in the heart of Munich, formerly home to the Bavarian kings, queens,electors and the ruling Wittelbach dynasty. Large parts of the palace were destroyed in World War II but were restored after the war. We visited Munich in mid December for a long weekend and on our first afternoon it was raining, so we decided to get out of the damp and take a look around the Residenz.

The picture gallery at the Residenz in Munich

The picture gallery at the Residenz in Munich

We went through the archway to the inner courtyard and ticket office and picked up an audio-guide which can be used for both the Treasury and the main palace itself. We decided to see the Treasury or Schatzkammer first as it was the shorter of the two, taking about 30 mins to look around. We left our coats and larger bags in the free cloakroom – nothing larger than a handbag is allowed around the palace which may cause problems if you have a lot of camera equipment to carry.

The crown jewels in the Treasury at the Residenz in Munich

The crown jewels in the Treasury at the Residenz in Munich

The Treasury is a series of rooms with the crown jewels of Bavaria, from crowns, swords and tiaras, to altar pieces, decorative plates and tablewear. There was everything a royal family or court could want to impress and display their wealth, and the audio-guide did a good job at explaining it all.

The Antiquarium in the Residenz in Munich

The Antiquarium in the Residenz in Munich

Next we walked around the palace itself which takes over an hour. There are some rooms from the Renaissance period, such as the magnificent Antiquarium, a hall with a decorative vaulted ceiling that was used for banquets and receiving guests, and an interesting shell grotto, to one side of an inner courtyard. Most of the rooms are in the decorative Rococo style from the 18th century, with plenty of damask, gilding and painted ceilings, with furniture, portraits and porcelein of the period on display.

Shell Grotto at the Residenz in Munich

Shell Grotto at the Residenz in Munich

As there were not many visitors on a Friday afternoon in December, we practically had the place to ourselves and it felt a little sterile and empty. The palace is also rather large and after wandering from one room to another, I started to get a bit weary with gorgeous rococo room after gorgeous rococo room and was getting a bit desperate to be let out from the gilded cage.

I thought about the stately homes and palaces in England, where so much effort is put into bringing the experience to life, with seasonal events, opening up the domestic areas such as the kitchens, actors in period costume, and special activities for children. I couldn’t see any of this happening here, and wondered why – perhaps there are so many lovely palaces in Southern Germany that people become a bit weary of them. There just seemed to be too much splendour and not enough life in the Residenz – it was was difficult to imagine that it was once full of people, activity and the excitement of the Bavarian court.

The theatre at the Residenz in Munich

The theatre at the Residenz in Munich

After we’d spent a couple of hours in the Residenz, we were ready to sit down and found a rather nice coffee shop just round the corner, where we relaxed for an hour with our Kaffee und Kuchen, and admired all the Chrismas chocolates, stollen and iced gingerbread on sale in the shop.

Kaffee House in Munich

Kaffee House in Munich

After that we took a look at the famous Cuvilliés Court Theatre, also created in the 1750s, which was also included in the ticket and was tucked away in the courtyards of the Residenz. The best thing about tour, was that we discovered a lovely, atmospheric Christmas market in the courtyard of the Residenz, that we went back to the next day.

If you love beautiful palaces, portraits and decoration, you’ll enjoy seeing the Residenz, but it did feel more of a museum than a former home of kings – perhaps it would have more atmosphere in the summer that it did on a rainy afternoon in December.

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Other Munich articles to enjoy

Visiting the Munich Christmas Markets – Podcast
Postcard from the Christmas Markets in Munich
A chilly welcome at Michaelkirche in Berg am Laim, Munich

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10 Comments on "Empty splendour at the Residenz Palace in Munich"

  1. Sherry Ott on Fri, 1st Jan 2010 5:20 pm 

    Wow, the pictures even looked empty. It’s weird how a place like that can swallow you – even if it is beautiful!

  2. Barbara at Hole in the Donut Travels on Fri, 1st Jan 2010 9:38 pm 

    I agree with you Heather – sometimes I get “gilded out” and I think I can’t possibly look at another temple or crown jewel.

  3. Donna Hull on Sat, 2nd Jan 2010 12:58 am 

    What an opulent building. It’s hard to imagine anyone ever living there. From your wonderful pictures, the rooms look beautiful but somehow cold and impersonal. I’d like to see them for myself, though.

  4. MJ's Travel Favorites 1-3-10 | Traveling with MJ on Sun, 3rd Jan 2010 2:40 pm 

    […] Heather on her Travels entices us to visit the Residenz Palace in Munich.  Beautiful photos. […]

  5. Mark H on Sun, 3rd Jan 2010 7:31 pm 

    I love the long halls and gilded ceilings of these great palaces. Super photos of the palace capturing its opulence.

  6. My travelling year in 2009 | Heather on her travels on Fri, 8th Jan 2010 8:25 am 

    […] below freezing. For more Munich stories read; Visiting the Munich Christmas Markets – podcast Empty splendour at the Resindenz in Munich Bavarian pork knuckle at Haxnbauer in Munich The Christmas Markets of […]

  7. Worldwide Travel Ideas on Sat, 23rd Jan 2010 6:50 pm 

    I was at the Residenz a few months ago. It doesn’t seem to get as many mentions as some of the other palaces in Europe so my expectations weren’t too high, but it was certainly a spectacular place, and the Antiquarium is one of the most stunning rooms I’ve ever seen.

    I was struck by your comment of “too much splendour and not enough life.” That’s a very interesting insight, and while I think I agree, I’m not sure if perhaps that comment doesn’t apply to most of the palaces in Austria and Germany.

  8. Review and Giveway of Eyewitness Top 10 travel Guide to Munich | Heather on her travels on Mon, 1st Feb 2010 10:48 pm 

    […] to Munich we managed to see several of the Top 10 city sites that were recommended, such as the Residenz Palace, former home of the Kings of Bavaria and the area around Marienplatz, the town square at the heart […]

  9. RichardAlois on Sat, 4th Dec 2010 12:49 pm 

    Nice picures – there are some nice hidden gems in Munich too, see below.
    RichardAlois´s last blog post ..Pagoda Munich

  10. There’s much more to Munich than the beer! | Go Time Travel Blog on Tue, 27th Dec 2011 9:41 pm 

    […] The latest dirndl fashions in Munich Visiting the Munich Christmas Markets – podcast Empty splendour in the Residenz palace in Munich […]

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