Würzburg Residence

The Würzburg Residence is a palace in Würzburg, Germany. Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt and Maximilian von Welsch, representatives of the Austrian/South German Baroque style, were involved in the construction, as well as Robert de Cotte and Germain Boffrand, who were followers of the French Style. Balthasar Neumann, court architect of the Bishop of Würzburg, was the principal architect of the Residence, which was commissioned by the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn and his brother Friedrich Carl von Schönborn in 1720, and completed in 1744. The Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, assisted by his son, Domenico, painted frescoes in the building.

Residenz Würzburg aerial photograph, Hans-Christian Esperer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Skulpturen Vier Jahreszeiten im Hofgarten Würzburg, Holger Uwe Schmitt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Interiors considered masterworks of Baroque/Rococo or Neoclassical architecture and art include the grand staircase, the chapel, and the Imperial Hall. The building was reportedly called the “largest parsonage in Europe” by Napoleon. It was heavily damaged by Allied bombing during World War II, and restoration has been in progress since 1945. Since 1981, the Residence has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chapel in Würzburg Residence, Holger Uwe Schmitt, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Interiors of Residence Würzburg, I, Sailko, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
South facade of the Würzburg Residence, Bavaria, Germany, Krzysztof Golik, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


The Residence was constructed on a baseplate of 92 × 167 meters. The main structure consists of a central wing with two side wings, the north and south blocks, each with two interior courts. On the town side the side wings extend 55 m from the main structure, partially enclosing the Cour d’honneur. Beneath the mansard roof there is a cornice, decorated with vases and trophies. The façade around the main portal in the Cour d’honneur is particularly richly decorated. It lacks the lower mezzanine floor (see below) but sports a large balcony above the three portals accessible from the Weisser Saal (White Hall). Above the entrance a large coat-of-arms of Friedrich Carl von Schönborn is located. The Hofkirche (court chapel) is completely integrated into the western part of the southern wing and barely distinguishable from the outside.

Würzburg Residence gardens, Sculpture: Johann Peter Wagner, Photo: Daderot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Originally, the Cour d’honneur was limited by a wrought-iron enclosure. This masterpiece of ironworks by Joh. Georg Oegg was demolished in 1821 and sold at auction,  because a member of the family of the King of Bavaria did not like them.

The square in front of the Residence today measures around 200 meters by 100 meters and is mostly used for parking. The Frankoniabrunnen from 1894 is located in the square.


The Residence has four floors, a high-ceiling ground and upper floor with a mezzanine floor above each. These served to enliven the façade and offered room for servants’ quarters, kitchens and administrative offices. The residence has almost 400 rooms.

Main staircase

In Baroque style, the staircase gained importance as part of a formal reception room. The staircase of the Würzburg Residence spans its vault, an area of 18 × 32 meters, without pillars. Beneath an unsupported trough vault, a masterpiece of construction with a maximum height of 23 meters.

The lowest part of the stair leads away from the reception hall, towards a blank wall and then splits into two stairs which double back. Thus, the host on the upper landing was able to see his visitors first who initially walked away from him. When the guests turned and approached, the vast ceiling fresco above was increasingly revealed to them.

Juni 1988 Würzburg Führung einer Besuchergruppe durch die Residenz

Some people despise the Rococo Movement. Their own tastes are maybe towards Impressionist or Pre-Modern art so we can understand why they hate Rococo art. For them, it is frivolous and unserious. But we love it. Yes, it is “pink and fluffy”, but we like it as it is. Learn more about Rococo in the video below.