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Germany Munich

Munich Treasury

The Treasury at the Munich Residenz has an exemplary collection of jewels and pieces of master craftsmanship in gold, precious stones, enamel, and much more. It is the result of centuries of collecting undertaken by members of the ruling family of Bavaria, the Wittelsbachs. Duke Albrecht V stipulated in his will of 1565 that the collection could not be sold. Other members of the Wittelsbach family who contributed to the collection include his son, Duke Wilhelm V, and his grandson Elector Maximilian I. Electors Maximilian Emanuel, Karl Abrecht, and Maximilian Joseph IV maintained the treasure. Elector Karl Theodore enlarged the collection in the 18th century by transferring the treasure of the Palatine Wittelsbachs to Munich.

Here is my favourite item from the Treasury:

This beautiful, exquisite crown is the oldest surviving crown of England, dated at around 1370-1380. It is made of gold, sapphires, rubies, pearls, and diamonds. It probably belonged to Edward III or Anne of Bohemia, the first wife of Richard II. Richard II was deposed by Henry IV. William Shakespeare dramatized this sequence of events in his plays Richard II, Henry IV part 1 and part II. So this crown has some serious historical and literary cred. Henry IV’s daughter, Princess Blanche, married Palatine Elector Ludwig III (a member of the Wittelsbach family) and the crown was part of her dowry, and so that is how it became a part of the Munich Treasury.

It is incredible. Worth the trip to the Treasury all on its own!

This crown belonged to Saint Cunigunde of Luxembourg, who was Empress of the Holy Roman Empire and Queen of Germany through her marriage to Emperor Henry II of Bavaria, King of Germany (972-1024). They were married in 999, crowned Emperor and Empress in 1014 and reigned until his death in 1024. She is a Roman Catholic saint and the Patroness of Luxembourg and Lithuania. The crown was made around the early 10th century. It contains sapphires, amethysts, pearls, carnelians, topazes, and peridots.

This is a crown that came from the reliquary of Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor (972-1024), at Bamberg Cathedral. There are six plates on the crown, each of them featuring a fleur-de-lis, joined together by hinges fixed with pins. Praying angels stand on acanthus leaves. The crown was made in 1270-1280. Why was it added to Henry II’s reliquary when it was made after his lifetime? That’s a mystery.

The information sign for this crown only says that it is the “medieval crown of a royal lady.” I NEED MORE DETAILS.

Some signet rings.

This statuette of St. George fighting a dragon was made to house a relic of St. George’s. It was sent to Duke Wilhelm V of Bavaria by his brother, Archbishop Ernst of Cologne, in 1586. The statuette contains gold, silver, emeralds, opals, agate, diamonds, rubies, pearls, rock crystal, chalcedony, agate, and other precious stones.

A slightly closer look at the knight and the dragon.

This is the crown and royal insignia of the Kings of Bavaria. The pieces were commissioned when Elector Maximilian Joseph IV of Bavaria was proclaimed King on January 1, 1806. A crown for the King, a crown for the Queen (Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt), sceptre, sword and belt, imperial orb and container were crafted in Paris, during Napoleon’s reign.

The King’s crown is on the cushion, the smaller crown in front is the Queen’s crown. Sceptre on the left, sword and belt on the right.

Orb on the left, orb container in front of the King’s crown and pillow, sceptre in the front, Queen’s crown on the right.

A close-up of the King’s crown. The crown contains gold, silver, diamonds, an imitation blue diamond, rubies, and emeralds.

Belt and sword.

A closer look at the sword handle (for a better view of the bling).

A closer look at the Queen’s crown. (I’m also a little obsessed with the pillow that holds the King’s crown).

“Magnificent chain, 1575.” You can say that again.

These are the “ruby jewels of Queen Therese of Bavaria, 1830. I mean, if she’s not using them anymore, I would gladly take them! (She was the wife of Ludwig I, grandmother of Ludwig III).

Bavarian pearl tiara and jewelry set.

These are different orders that would be granted by the royal house.

Let’s get a closer look at some of them.

I wouldn’t mind this one.

Or this one.

This one’s pretty cool, too.

I like a golden lion with ruby eyes.

Sure.

Beautiful sword hilt.

All right, now we’ll move onto some of the other collections in the Treasury beyond the Crown Jewels. The Treasury has several collections of masterworks created by various German craftspeople. (With a focus on the Munich area). I’ve included photos of some of my favourites.

Glassworks.

Gold.

St. Michael forever battling that dragon.

Ornamental jugs with mother-of-pearl spiral shells, created by Wenzel Jamnitzer (508-1585).

Silver.

There is something special about the specific tone of this red glass, but I can’t quite remember what it is. It might have something to do with colloidal gold and the guy who was looking for the Philosopher’s Stone (Nicolas Flamel). If I discover what it is, I’ll update this section.

A beautiful jewelry box.

The Cross of Queen Gisela was commissioned by Queen Gisela of Hungary for the tomb of her mother, Gisela of Burgundy, Duchess of Bavaria, who died in 1006.

This is a silver-gilt-and-marble replica of Trajan’s column. The column (original and replica) depict the wars between the Romans and the Dacians in 101-102 and 105-106.

Bejewelled daggers.

Chessboard made of precious stones.

This traveling set was a gift from Napoleon to his second wife, Marie Louise of Austria. It was made by Biennais who, in 1812, was the most famous goldsmith of his day.

There are all sorts of secret compartments, and every piece was custom made for the travel set.

There are more than 120 items made from silver-gilt, gold, mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, ivory, and ebony.

Included in the travel set is a dinner service for two, toiletry set, writing and sewing implements, a measuring rod, a screwdriver, and even dental instruments.

It was hard to get a good picture of the whole thing with all the reflections on the glass case it was in.

Hardest of all to get it facing straight-on.

I hope you enjoyed this collection of pictures. If you have a choice between going to the Munich Residenz or the Treasury, I would suggest prioritizing the Treasury. There are so many beautiful things worth checking out! If you have time for both, you can get a combination ticket.

Categories
Germany Munich

Munich Residenz

The Munich Residenz is the former seat of government and royal residence of the Wittelsbach rulers¹ of Bavaria. What began as a small fortress built in 1385 on the northeastern part of the old city, just outside of the city walls, expanded over the centuries to become a sprawling palace with 130 rooms and ten courtyards. The Munich Residenz was heavily damaged during World War II but has since been rebuilt.

Below: The Munich Residenz in the 18th century.

The main facade, the Köningsbrau (“the King’s building”), was built during the time of King Ludwig I, between 1825-1835. This is where you’ll find the entrance to the Museum and the Treasury.

The Antiquarium is the oldest room in the Munich Residenz. It was commissioned by Duke Albrecht V in 1571 for his collection of antique sculptures. It is the largest Renaissance hall north of the Alps.

From 1581 to 1600, Duke Albrecht V’s successors, son Duke Wilhelm V and grandson Maximilian I, transformed the Antiquarium into a hall for festivities and banquets.

The Ancestral Gallery was commissioned by Karl Albrecht in 1726. Karl was Elector of Bavaria from 1726-1745, King of Bohemia from 1741-1743, and Holy Roman Emperor (as Charles VII) from 1742-1745. He wanted to impress upon others the importance of the Wittelsbach lineage, connections, and the legitimacy of his claim.

Build me a gallery, and don’t skimp on the gilt! The more gilt the better. Rich people love that sh*t.

Including Charlemagne, Charles the Great, in your ancestral gallery is one way to try and convince others of your power and the nobility of your lineage. But Karl did become Holy Roman Emperor in 1742, almost two decades after he commissioned this Hall, so who am I to judge his methods?

Hat belonging to Johann Karl Friedrich von Ostein; Munich, 1745. He was the Archbishop and Elector of Mainz.

Cool shield.

The Court Chapel, built on the orders of Maximilian I. Maximilian I was also known as “Maximilian the Great.” He reigned as Duke of Bavaria from 1597-1623, and Elector of Palatine and Bavaria from 1623-1651. He had a lot of the rooms in the Munich Residenz that I focus on in this post commissioned.

The Rich Chapel, consecrated in 1607, was a private place of worship for Maximilian I and his wife, Elisabeth of Lorraine. This is also where he kept his collection of precious relics—the bodily remains of saints.

I liked the blue and gold ceiling.

The floor.

Below is one of the relics that Maximilian I would have kept in the Rich Chapel. The collection is kept in a separate room now. There are lots of them. They creep me out a little. But I thought I’d include one picture anyway.

Below is another statue of Mary standing on a crescent moon. This one has a snake crawling up around it. Beware of Protestant heresy!

A silver dinner service.

The Imperial Hall. Maximilian I’s work.

The Four White Horses Hall, also commissioned by Maximilian I, takes its name from a painting that no longer exists. The painting was of Apollo in his chariot being drawn by four white horses. The Hall was built in 1614. In 1799, the Hall was replaced by apartments built for Bavaria’s first King, Maximilian Joseph IV, and his wife Karoline of Baden. That’s when the painting disappeared. After the rooms were damaged in World War II, the Four White Horses Hall was reconstructed. The room was furnished with original paintings and tapestries that had been preserved, except for the missing Apollo painting.

Below is a rather bleak information plaque that made me laugh. Kind of a metaphor, no? Man was ruler of the world, but now that is lost.

Below is the elaborate ceiling of the room that houses the Imperial Staircase. Also Maximilian I. (I forgot to take a picture of the stairs. They were white).

The next series of rooms are known as The Charlotte Rooms. The instruments in the Music Room belonged to Maximilian Joseph IV.

The furniture in the next two bedrooms originally belonged to Maximilian Joseph IV and Karoline of Baden. The room shows how royalty lived in the apartments of the Residenz.

Archduchess Maria Leopoldine of Austria-Este (1776-1848), Electress of Bavaria, second wife of Elector Charles Theodore. (And Maximilian Joseph IV’s mother).

View of Munich from the East in 1761, by Bernardo Belloto. Can you see the towers of the Frauenkirche in the distance?

The rooms that follow are known as The Rich Rooms. Karl Albrecht, who also commissioned the Ancestral Gallery, had these rooms designed and furnished from 1730-1737. The room with the red velvet wall hangings is the Audience Room.

The Green Gallery was used for festive gatherings in which only selected members of the court were invited. It is also a picture and mirror gallery, and features elegant chandeliers.

Game recognizes game. That’s a nice flower crown.

What. The Actual. F.

I can’t un-see that. And now, neither can you.

Why does the dragon have breasts?

This porcelain ornament belonged to Louis XIV’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour. This is probably interesting only to me, but I don’t care.

All right, now we get to return to my favourite, King Ludwig II.

In 1869, Ludwig II commissioned the building of an opulent conservatory or winter garden on the roof of the Festival Hall Building. It contained an artificial lake, and a 70-metre long free-standing hall with a vaulted ceiling. The Himalayas were painted as a backdrop. The metal and glass ceiling was at the cutting edge of technological innovation at the time.

The conservatory was closed in 1886 because, well, having a lake installed on the top floor of a building is not conducive to keeping the lower floors in good repair. But the Residenz has an exhibition about it, with some pictures that were taken while it was open.

Below: Drawings that were used in the planning of the conservatory.

The lake.

A picture with two swans and the lake in the front left corner, and the massive amount of plants that the conservatory contained. A Moorish kiosk in the background. There was also an Indian fisher-hut of bamboo, and an exotic looking tent.

The painting of the Himalayas.

A better view of the lake, with a small boat.

Below is an idealized image of the conservatory and its features.

I hope you enjoyed the tour! I have a separate post coming up featuring the beautiful, well, treasures of the Munich Treasury.


¹A brief overview of Residenz occupants that I mention in this post, and their relationship to the Munich Residenz:

Albrecht V: Duke of Bavaria, reign 1550-1579. He had the Antiquarium built (the big Renaissance Hall).

Wilhelm V: Duke of Bavaria, reign 1579-1597. Albrecht’s son.

Maximilian I: reign as Duke of Bavaria 1597-1623; reign as Elector of Palatine and Bavaria, 1623-1651. Wilhelm’s son. 1st wife Elisabeth of Lorraine (1595-1635). Second wife Maria Anna of Austria (1635). Occasionally referred to as “Maximilian the Great.” Ruled during the Thirty Years’ War. Built the Court Chapel, the Rich Chapel, the Imperial Hall, the Imperial Staircase, the Four White Horses Hall, and the Stone Rooms.

Karl Albrecht: Elector of Bavaria, reign 1726-1745; King of Bohemia, reign 1741-1743; Holy Roman Emperor (as Charles VII), 1742-1745. Great grandson of Maximilian I. First person NOT born of the House of Hapsburg to become Emperor in three centuries, but was connected to the house by blood and marriage. Had the Ancestral Gallery and Rich Rooms built, including the Green Gallery.

Maximilian Joseph IV (Bavarian Elector) and I (Bavarian King): Elector of Bavaria, reign 1799-1806; First King of Bavaria, reign 1806-1825. (I hope he sent Napoleon a fruit basket for that). First wife Augusta Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt. Second wife Karoline of Baden. Father of Ludwig I. The furniture in the Charlotte Rooms belongs to him. He had the Four Horses Hall converted into a royal apartment.

Ludwig II: King of Bavaria, reign 1864-1886. Had the second conservatory built on the roof of the Festival Hall Building. Went a little overboard.

²Unfortunately, the apartments belonging to the King and Queen were undergoing conservation work when I visited, so I wasn’t able to see them. I did get to see some other beautiful and—interesting—aspects of the palace.