Stadtschloss Wiesbaden

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Wiesbaden City Palace (German: Stadtschloss Wiesbaden or Wiesbadener Stadtschloss) is a neo-classical building in the center of Wiesbaden, Germany. It was completed in 1841 as the principal city residence of the Dukes of Nassau. The palace has several wings, 145 rooms, and is architecturally integrated with a group of ancillary buildings constructed both before and after it was built. With ornate towers, gables and a slate roof laid in herringbone patterns, the three-story complex lends charm and its name to the central square of Wiesbaden: Palace Square (German: Schloßplatz).

The Palace has had a turbulent history. After withstanding the Revolutions of 1848 and annexation by Prussia in 1866, it has served variously as a second home of the German Emperors, a gathering place for soldiers and workers during the German Revolution of 1918–1919, a museum, and a military headquarters for both the Wehrmacht and Allied occupation forces. Damaged during World War II, the Palace has since been restored and portions modernized. Since 1946 it has been the seat of the State Parliament of Hesse (German: Hessischer Landtag). A new Parliamentary Chamber was added to the complex in 2008.

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The site where the City Palace now stands has been the center of political power in Wiesbaden for centuries. It was first occupied by a castle from the Early Middle Ages around which the medieval city developed. By 1236 the Counts of Nassau were already in residence, when there is a record of Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich II celebrating Pentecost in the castle church. During this time the city enjoyed the status of Reichsstadt (Free Imperial City), but only briefly. In subsequent wars Wiesbaden was completely destroyed and rebuilt at least three times. During the Renaissance the city became a notable spa town, and Philipp Ludwig III commissioned construction of a New City Palace, completed in 1599. This renewal was not to last, however. The lands of the House of Nassau were reshuffled in inheritances and as lines died out. The Thirty Years’ War again devastated the city, with chronicles recording that by 1648 it had barely 40 residents left. In the 1700s, Schloss Biebrich (the “Versailles on the Rhine” on the outskirts of Wiesbaden) became a principal residence of the line of Nassau-Idstein and the City Palace fell into disuse. Little is known about the extent of the old original Castle, but remains of a tower dating back as early as the Frankish period (481–800 CE) were discovered in 1952 during reconstruction of adjacent buildings damaged in the Second World War.

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After Germany’s defeat in World War I and the monarchy collapsed, the palace was used for a variety of purposes. It initially became home to the local Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council during the German Revolution of 1918-1919. Later it was used as the supreme headquarters of the French Occupation Armies during the Allied Occupation of the Rhineland. In 1925, the palace became the headquarters of British Army of the Rhine. After the withdrawal of occupying forces in 1930, the building came into the possession of the Prussian State Administration of Palaces (German: Preußischen Staatlichen Schlösserverwaltung) and was converted into a museum.

During World War II, the building complex became the Wehrmacht‘s General Headquarters for Wehrkreis (Military District) XII under the command of General der Infanterie Walther Schroth. This region included the Eifel, part of Hesse, the Palatinate, and the Saarland. After Germany’s victory in the Battle of France in 1940, Wehrkreis XII was expanded to include the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Lorraine Region, including Nancy. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the US Army used the partially ruined building as its headquarters.

 

Today the Hessian Landtag occupies the original Ducal Palace and several adjacent buildings aligned to the Schloßplatz. These include the Kavaliershaus and former Kaiser-Wilhelms Sanatorium, today referred to as the Wilhelmsbau. Inside the inner courtyard of the Castle is the Plenary Chamber of the Landtag, opened in 2008. All located in the Historical Pentagon.

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The Schloßplatz (English: Palace Square or Castle Square) forms the center of the historic Old Town of Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany. It gets its name from the Stadtschloss, the royal residence of the Dukes of Nassau located on the north side of the square. Other buildings surrounding the Schloßplatz include the Old City Hall, the New Town Hall and the Marktkirche. In the middle of the square stands the Marktbrunnen (Market Well) of 1753. Due to this unique building ensemble, and the fact that at this point medieval Wiesbaden originated, it is historically the most important part of the city. Occasionally it is referred to as the “market square”, its name before the palace was built.

The Schloßplatz is officially written as a proper noun using the letter ‘ß’ in the old German orthography. However, it is also correct to spell the word in new orthography as “Schlossplatz”, which it often is.

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