Episcopalian Baroque residence at Lake Constance

Meersburg New Palace

Außenansicht des Neuen Schlosses; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten, Achim Mende
Picturesque Baroque residence

The palace

The former residence of the prince-bishops of Constance is particularly noteworthy because of its picturesque location on a steep cliff high above the shores of Lake Constance. The terrace provides a magnificent panoramic view of the Alps and a Mediterranean flair is palpable.

Pediment with coat of arms and statuary, Meersburg New Palace. Image: Hermann Böhne

Splendid adornment of the palace pediment.

The royal need for representation

In the early 16th century, the prince-bishops of Constance relocated their residence from a newly Protestantized ecclesiastical city to Meersburg. They initially resided in the old Meersburg Castle. Yet the increasing need for representation soon outgrew the medieval structure. In 1710, Prince-Bishop Johann Franz von Stauffenberg expanded his residence with a “New Building” next to the old castle. The shell of the single-wing building was completed and initially used as a legal office.

Hall of mirrors with chandelier and ceiling painting, Meersburg New Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten, Arnim Weischer

The representational Baroque ceremonial hall.

Palace completed by Franz Conrad von Rodt

Under Prince-Bishop Damian Hugo von Schönborn, the New Building was further expanded into a palace. The representational staircase and the palace chapel were also added, both based on designs by famous architect Balthasar Neumann. Franz Conrad von Rodt continued work on the building and the magnificent interior decor under the direction of Franz Anton Bagnato. After almost 60 years of construction, a prince-bishop was finally able to move into the New Palace in 1762. An equestrian school and a seminary round out the Baroque complex.

View of the palace and town of Meersburg from Lake Constance. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten, Achim Mende

The palace lies picturesque above the town and lake.

An ensemble that makes an outstanding impression

The incredible ensemble that makes up this prince-bishops’ residence consists of four monumental buildings, all lined up along the shore of Lake Constance: the medieval Meersburg Castle, which served as the first prince-bishops’ residence, the central New Palace, the equestrian school, which now houses the state vineyard, and the former seminary, now the Droste-Hülshoff Gymnasium. Even the construction of the Meersburg historic district still reflects the typical image of a Baroque residential town, with the New Palace at its center.

Panorama-Ansicht des Neuen Schlosses Meersburg mit Blick auf den Bodensee; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Garten, Peter Ronge

Mediterranean flair on Lake Constance.

An entirely Baroque residence

This royal residence also had a garden. Even the old Meersburg Castle had been designed with a garden, on a terrace high above Lake Constance. A pleasure garden was also constructed for the New Palace, and the small terrace with its yellow garden pavilion has survived to this day! The ensemble of the old Meersburg Castle, a garden, and a new government building, the palace, was entirely in the style of the Baroque need for representation, which was equally important for prince-bishops.

TIPP

When entering the palace from the garden terrace, take note of the tiny stucco images and make sure to visit the natural history cabinet; these are two of Meersburg Palace's special treasures.

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