Welcome to the Benrath Palace, or, as I would say, “Welcome to the Pink Castle.”
Located in Düsseldorf, Germany, the palace was built as a maison de plaisance. Oxford defines maison de plaisance as a term from the 18th and 19th centuries to describe rural and suburban houses designed as retreats for the wealthy and the nobility. It’s French for “country house,” and translates literally to “house of pleasure.” The Pink Castle was built as a summer residence for Elector Palatine Carl Theodor von der Pfalz (1755-1771), once a King of Bohemia. By all accounts, von der Pfalz rarely made use of Benrath Palace.
Not Your Garden Variety Palace
Benrath Palace’s 61-hectare park may be equally popular as the Pink Castle. I love that more than 300 species of beetles make their home there. I never realized that many species of beetles existed around the world, much less in one area in southern Germany. The beetles probably serve as a smorgasbord for the more than 80 species of birds who nest there. Landscape designers Maximilian Friedrich Weyhe and Peter Joseph Lenné created the Kurfürstengarten (Elector’s garden) in the 19th century. Rare North American shrubbery anchors the greenspace.
But Why Düsseldorf?
Düsseldorf certainly is a catchy name, but why build a Pink Castle there? The once King of Bohemia von der Pfalz also had the title of Lord of the Seven Counties, and Düsseldorf was one of those counties, which were sovereign territories.
The palace’s main building served as the residence with four floors and about 80 rooms. VIP guests stayed in one of the four quarters on the upper floor. Lavishly decorated, the visitor apartments followed the French layout tradition of foyer, bedroom, and cabinet. Plus, a butler was at one’s service. The butler stayed in a nearby room.
The two wings’ original functions included kitchen, housing for staff, and agricultural buildings. An underground tunnel from the wings to the main building enabled service employees to remain out of view.
Much More Than Eye Candy
Architecturally speaking, Benrath Palace’s reoccurring theme is Nature both inside and outside. Sunlight bathes the interior thanks to the many windows. One can’t miss the palace’s exterior as it is painted in pink. Almost Champagne pink, wouldn’t you say? It reminds me of a fancy dessert in a bakery case. The ornate white stucco is the icing on the Rococo exterior’s pink cake.
I was surprised at the quietness of Benrath Palace. It’s the perfect spot for hushed tones of lovers.
All the World’s a Stage
Not only does the Düsseldorf Theatre museum located on the grounds celebrate the performing arts, it serves as a history resource with its archive, museum, and library. This independent theatre is the only institution of its kind in Germany supported by municipal funds. Patrons enjoy a variety of performances on the studio stage, such as children’s theatre, improv, and classics.
I know I say this a lot, but definitely pack a picnic basket and take in their garden views. Summer is a particularly pleasant time, plus there are outdoor concerts. I look forward to being in the audience one day as soon as possible.
If you happen to be in the Düsseldorf neighborhood, make sure to check their 2020 business hours.
The Secret Is Out
Düsseldorf is not the traveler’s secret it once was. It’s a well-known fashion hotspot, as evidenced by its high-styling residents and visitors. I really can see how its reputation has spread since my first visit in December 2014. Nowadays, both the old and new sections of Düsseldorf are teeming with fashionistas of all stripes.
Read more on my Düsseldorf experiences here. I enjoy choosing a city where I can shop, eat, wander and explore simply by walking. For me, walking is the most intimate way to explore a city.
Also, Düsseldorf is so near and dear to my heart because that is where I had one of my career highlights — delivering a TEDx Talk. You can watch it here.
Let me know what you think of Düsseldorf and of the TEDx Talk.
Stay safe. Let’s keep that traveling bug alive. Tell us where you are exploring next.