Brühl, Germany, home of the Brühl Palaces where we booked an optional excursion for the afternoon of the 6th day of our Viking River Cruise of the Rhine, is located just 18 km south of Cologne. After a short bus ride following lunch, we arrived at the Augustusburg Palace, one of the first rococo buildings in Germany. Rococo style, also called Late Baroque, is characterized by elaborate but light and airy ornamentation and pastel colors. Constructed beginning in 1725, the summer palace was a favorite residence of Clemens Augustus, Archbishop-Elector of Cologne. The palace took over 40 years to complete partly because Clemens Augustus’s brother didn’t think the first version was good enough so the palace designed by a German architect was completely demolished and construction commenced again under a French architect. Today, Augustustburg Palace, the formal gardens, and nearby Falkenlust Hunting Lodge comprise the UNESCO World Heritage site called the Brühl Palaces.
Unfortunately, photography wasn’t allowed inside the palaces so I can’t show you the jaw-droppingly lavish interiors. You can see several images, however, if you click on this link to the official website and then click on the photos in the picture gallery. Be sure to notice the magnificent marble staircase which is especially impressive.
The outside photos will give you an idea of the opulence, however.
As I looked at the interior of the palace and the surrounding formal gardens, I was reminded of Versailles which was built several years earlier in the ornate Baroque style, albeit on an even grander scale. After all, Versailles boasts 700 rooms whereas Augustusburg has only 120.
As you can see, the fountains weren’t operational in November but the gardens impressed us nevertheless.
I was fascinated by a colorful duck swimming serenely on the lake and, after some research, discovered it was a Mandarin duck. They are native to China and Japan but prolific in Britain due to their importation in the 18th century. More recently, rogue Mandarins have escaped and can be found in Germany and in other forested habitats as far away as California.
The orbs of foliage I spotted in the trees were even more intriguing. When I pointed them out to Jim, he claimed it was mistletoe which our guide subsequently confirmed. Mistletoe is actually a parasite that attaches to the host and literally sucks the life out of it. It’s very difficult to eradicate which, considering the abundance we saw, was quite alarming.
Although the hunting lodge, Falkenlust, is within walking distance, the tour bus delivered us directly to the gate. Too bad, as it would have been a lovely stroll through the woods. The hunting lodge wouldn’t have required visitors to rough it whatsoever. Take a peek inside here. The over 9000 hand-made Delft tiles surrounding the circular staircase were a definite highlight.
A small building behind the hunting lodge wasn’t open to the public but I did take a few photos through the windows of the renovations occurring inside.
If you’re in Cologne, take the time to visit the Brühl Palaces. As the first examples of rococo architecture in Germany, their historical importance is unquestionable. We were definitely impressed and we enjoyed a pleasant afternoon there.
As we sailed away from Cologne later that evening, Jim captured one last memorable view of Cologne Cathedral.
And, as we said goodbye to Cologne, we also said goodbye to Germany since our next port the following day would be in the Netherlands.
Based on events from November 2017.