One of the many, many things I love about Europe are the palaces. Beautiful, ornate, sprawling buildings that contain or allude to the other things that I love: art, history, romance and a little bit of intrigue. Or in some instances, quite a bit of intrigue (Hall of Mirrors and the Sun King, I’m looking at you). So when I was looking up things to see during my one full day in Munich, I moved the Residenz Museum up to the top of my list.
The Residenz was the home of the Wittelsbach royal family who ruled Bavaria from 1180 (and ruled up through 1918!). Much reconstruction work has been done to the palace, as there was quite a bit of destruction from World War II bombing raids. One thing about the European palaces I’ve loved are how incredibly ornate the ceilings are. And it’s important to look up when you’re touring them, lest you miss a beautiful piece of artwork.
But while wandering through the darkened apartments of the palace, there were a number of ceiling panels missing. The ceiling might have smaller paintings lining the corners, and then a large blackened panel along with a small sign indicating what the painting was, but that it had been lost or destroyed. And those reminders of warfare are sad. I looked up into those dark panels – sometimes even before reading what was supposed to be in that empty spot – and wander what that room would look like with those missing panels. Would those panels bring back some lightness? Those dark spots, were they just sucking up the light?
That being said, the rooms were still magnificent. Ornate damask wall coverings in a deep reds, vibrant greens and the most gorgeous blue in the music room that I have seen in a long while. The room above, the Antiquarium was definitely a favorite. The walls and ceilings were beautifully painted, and I strolled down the length of the room and back looking at the faces of the statues. This room was built in the late 1560s to house these statues, these antiques (hence the name). It gave me pause – can you imagine attending a banquet in a room such as this? And if yes, how can I get an invite?
The other room I loved was the Green Room. The light from the chandeliers sparkled against the crystals, and the sunlight streaming in from the windows reflected on the mirrors placed directly opposite. While some of the apartments were dim, I welcomed all the light in this room.
I think my guidebook said to give about two hours to touring it – for some reason that was how long I’d estimated when planning my day – but I spent quite a bit longer. I listened through nearly all sections on my audio tour, and read most of the signs in the rooms I visited. So give yourself plenty of time to visit. If you visit during a German heat wave, as I did, the rooms can get a little warm. But there were fans set up that helped, and the size of some of the rooms allowed for a breeze. And some other rooms did also have small air conditioning units.
Staying as I did in the Old Town, I was within walking distance of the Residenz. And if you have the time, you can also tour the Treasury next door. Having only the one full day in Munich as I did, I only toured the Residenz and left to stroll through the gardens and find the English Garden surfers I’d read about.
The museum is located at Residenzstraße 1 in Munich. Tickets for the Residenz were 7 euros (almost $8 at the time of this post) and includes the audio tour, and the same price for the Treasury. According to the website, you can get a combination ticket to tour both buildings for 13 euros.