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Palatine baroque and Francophile elegance

Elector Palatine Carl Theodor (1724 – 1799), a lover of luxury and the fine arts, had stunning baroque palaces and parks built in the French style. Under him Mannheim and the Palatinate enjoyed their "golden age". Carl Theodor had Mannheim Palace finished, extended Schwetzingen Palace into a beautiful summer residence and established, for example, the National Theatre and the Academy of Sciences. With their blend of piety and joie de vivre, baroque and Enlightenment, these magnificent buildings reflect the spirit of his age.
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Schwetzingen Palace

A stroll in the park at Schwetzingen Palace reveals a wealth of surprises: gems such as a mosque with Moorish-style domes, a picturesque mock ruin, a bath house featuring marble and a splendid Apollo temple. The arts-loving Elector Palatine Carl Theodor extended and transformed his ancestors' hunting castle into a luxurious summer residence, a "mini Versailles" in the Palatinate. The most striking architectural feature here – and the only example in Europe – is the Zirkel: two single-storey, semi-circular buildings added to the palace on either side. The northern section of the Zirkel contains a charming, rococo-style, 500-seat theatre, built for the Elector as a promoter of the arts. Even as distinguished a guest as Voltaire, the French writer and philosopher, was impressed by the beauty of Schwetzingen's illusory surroundings.
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Benrath Palace & Park, Düsseldorf

This splendid building in a suburb of Düsseldorf was designed for Elector Palatine Carl Theodor by Nicolas de Pigage in the 18th century. However it was never occupied by the Elector as he was obliged to relocate to Munich on inheriting the electorate of Bavaria. A vast park of approx. 612,000 square metres stretches away to the south of the palace. A long, reflective pond forms the main axis with the north side of the building. To the west of the pond the entire park has a canal system and a network of paths through a hunting area in the shape of a star. The exquisite French garden and English garden round off a relaxing visit to the park.
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Mannheim Palace

The construction of Mannheim Palace on the Upper Rhine, one of the largest absolutist baroque palaces, began under Elector Carl Philipp in 1720. After Carl Philipp's death in the mid-18th century, he was succeeded by Carl Theodor, his only male blood relation, a lover of sciences and the arts under whom the Mannheim Court enjoyed a short, intensive golden age. In particular, Carl Theodor's love of the German language and passion for the theatre led to the foundation of the National Theatre in 1778. Building work - including contributions by the eminent Balthasar Neumann and Nicolas de Pigage - continued on the vast palace complex for around forty years. The palace has now reopened to the public after extensive restoration work.
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  1. Schwetzingen Palace
  2. Benrath Palace & Park, Düsseldorf
  3. Mannheim Palace