The pleasure palace in the countryside. Twelve kilometres from the city's former gates, Elector Karl Theodor von der Pfalz had a maison de plaisance built by Nicolas de Pigage from 1756 to 1773 with generous gardens.
But the Elector visited the estate only once in his lifetime. Today, however, it does not suffer from a lack of visitors. Both Benrath Palace and the 61 hectare park are popular attractions in the south of Düsseldorf. The garden is equally popular with art and nature lovers: The park is home to more than 80 species of birds and over 300 species of beetles. Rare North American shrubs characterise the so-called Kurfürstengarten (Elector’s garden), which was created by outstanding garden artists such as Maximilian Friedrich Weyhe and Peter Joseph Lenné in the 19th century.
Elector Karl Theodor had the hunting and garden palace built in Benrath in 1755. It is a little gem. No other European monument from this period is so well preserved. The attempt to produce an overall composition of architecture, garden art and sculpture is typical of the late baroque period just before the transition to Neoclassicism. The architect was the “Intendant of the gardens and waterworks” at the Mannheim royal court, Nicolas de Pigage.
Those taking a tour of the palace are asked in the vaulted cellar to cover their shoes. That is why they put on roomy felt slippers on which they can glide elegantly around the palace. There’s a very good reason: the smooth floors are extremely valuable and wear-and-tear has to be avoided. And let’s not forget the fun factor of slippers on these surfaces! What will I see as I slide around? The rooms are richly ornamented with parquet, wall panelling and stucco. Please note that the palace can only be viewed on one of the guided tours. Lasting around one hour, they take place at 30-minute intervals.
In 1965 Queen Elizabeth II was given a suitably royal welcome to Düsseldorf South, inclusive in an open-top Mercedes 600. Queen Silvia of Sweden has visited not once but twice. The Shah of Persia came too, and the most recent royal guest was Prince Albert II of Monaco.
The palace park is open to the public and the palace and its park uniquely illustrate the history of European garden art because all styles are represented at Benrath. In fact, the world’s first Museum of Garden Art was opened here in 2002 in the palace’s elaborately restored east wing. The inner courtyard, with its collection of ancient lemon trees, is a lovely place to relax for a while, particularly in summer.