Travel Report: Schwetzingen Palace Landscape Garden, Germany.
November 2008. In late 2008 I’d recently gotten married and my wife was a Dutch girl whose mother’s side of the family hailed from Deutschland. We lived in Brussels at the time and one weekend we decided to undertake the four-hour drive to Wiesental, a small village in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg. Hanging out with Grandma turned out to be much more fun than expected, what with her sublime home-cooked apple strudel and engaging Second World War stories. There was also the ludicrous TV program we all watched that first night, where unreasonably blond, blue-eyed men sang accordion-driven songs about their love for the German countryside. As entertaining as it all was, the weekend’s highlight was our visit to nearby Schwetzingen Palace, an eighteenth century royal residence. Sadly for us our visit came on a Sunday, so the palace was closed. In the end we made do with an afternoon stroll around the beautiful Schwetzingen Palace Landscape Garden.
November 2008. It was wonderfully quiet that day as we wandered Schwetzingen Palace Landscape Garden. Working our way around the lake, it was literally just ourselves, the ducks and a few elegant swans as we approached Schwetzingen Palace Mosque.
November 2008. Schwetzingen Palace Mosque was built in the late seventeen hundreds for the Prince Elector of the Palatinate.
November 2008. Not that it was ever intended for prayer! Rather, it was simply a case of Turkish architecture being fashionable at the time. Prince Carl Theodor also thought its construction would paint him as a cosmopolitan and tolerant ruler!
November 2008. Schwetzingen Palace Mosque is even more impressive on the inside, with its grand domed ceiling, oriental colours and shapely stone alcoves and columns. There are also inscriptions in both Arabic and German, although Muslim visitors have complained that the Arabic texts contain all kinds of language errors. Oops!
November 2008. Back out in Schwetzingen Palace Landscape Garden and there was more to see, including a ruined theatre, bathhouse, aqueduct, an aviary and this Temple Of Apollo accessed via a moss-infested stone staircase. Between the sites there are are crumbling statues, dramatic sculptures and grand fountains. Even in winter mode the place was utterly beguiling and I could only imagine how lush it would be in the summer. As it happened the marriage didn’t work and I never did make it back. Nevertheless, I have fond memories of that afternoon visit, when a German royal palace and its gardens had been our own private autumnal wonderland.
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