Ludwigslust Palace. Courtly splendour and a splendid palace park.

Hidden away in the Mecklenburg countryside, this palace is full of surprises. Many of the wall and ceiling decorations, for example, are actually papier mâché and became known as 'Ludwigslust board'.

All the buildings are the work of Johann Busch, the Schweriner court architect, primarily a sculptor but also a brilliant architect. The E-shaped palace is a melange of late-baroque and classical styles. Made mainly out of brick, it was made to look more French by the addition of light Pirna sandstone. The palace interior – with its palette of gold and pale grey – oozes elegance and is the epitome of courtly splendour. The Golden Hall is truly stunning: extending over two floors, it combines aristocratic Louis XVI splendour with playful, effusive rococo elements. Golden Corinthian columns, crystal chandeliers and the opulently decorated ceiling are reflected by vast expanses of mirrors, creating a grand backdrop for enthralling festivals. Intriguingly, not everything in this palace is quite as it seems. Many of the wall and ceiling decorations are neither stucco plaster nor wood: they are actually made of papier mâché, also known as 'Ludwigslust board'. There are even vases and busts made in this way, the most amazing being a papier mâché Venus de' Medici – just one example of the many exquisite works of art and original furniture items adorning many rooms at the palace, which are now open to visitors as a museum. One special aspect of Ludwigslust Palace is the way in which it blends in with its surroundings to create a harmonious overall work of art. To stroll around the park, to discover the fountains, two mausoleums and the Swiss House, to pause on the Stone Bridge built in 1780 and to watch the fast-flowing water in the long canal is a sheer delight. Nearby attractions: neo-baroque Hasenwinkel House is set in idyllic countryside to the east of Lake Schwerin. The town of Grabow on the banks of the Elbe enchants visitors with its old quarter – a listed site of historical interest, its medieval town hall, Rathausmarkt square and horse market. Johann Busch was the architect behind the monumental town church in Ludwigslust. Its gable is decorated with a large monogram of Christ.

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