From modest hunting lodge to sprawling, three-winged palace. Few European regents were able to realise their absolutist dreams in as literal and grandiose a way as the rulers of Ludwigsburg.
In the 18th century the Palace of Versailles was the ideal to which every European ruler aspired. Duke Eberhard Ludwig had his modest hunting lodge converted into a palace from 1704. Between 1724 and 1733 it received the ultimate mark of prestige in the form of a fourth wing. This made it the largest baroque palace in Germany and one of the biggest anywhere in Europe. Inside the palace, suites of luxurious banqueting halls and apartments faithfully reflect the styles of three different periods. Dating from the baroque period are the toilet chamber, the staircase, the exquisite palace church and the games and hunting pavilion with its magnificent stucco marble. The young Duke Carl Eugen later changed the interior to suit his own taste, as the heavy ostentation of the Eberhard Ludwig era gave way to a lighter rococo style. Several rooms at Ludwigsburg Palace were then modernised in the linear classical and French Empire style by Friedrich I, the first King of Württemberg. Parts of the original baroque gardens were transformed into an English landscaped garden – the combination of strict symmetry and lavish floral planting is still very striking today. In a slightly raised position on the edge of the gardens is the 'Favorite' hunting lodge. This beautiful building is idyllically located amid 72 hectares of parkland and former hunting grounds – ideal for a leisurely stroll. Nearby attractions: The German Half-Timbered Houses Route runs for an incredible 2,000 kilometres throughout Germany offering a wealth of medieval charm. Pretty little towns steeped in history set the scene for captivating strolls down narrow, winding lanes. The Württemberg Wine Route has much to offer in the way of scenery, with miles and miles of walks through vineyards and glorious countryside. Close by is the medieval town of Marbach, the birthplace of Friedrich Schiller, which has a permanent exhibition displaying documents, portraits, everyday objects and personal effects belonging to Schiller and his family.