The Castle Benrath with its park is situated in the south of Düsseldorf , Northrhine-Westphalia, Germany
Not only does it have a historical meaning, not even a mere ecological one, but plays a part in the everyday life of the nearby citizens. Here they can go on a stroll, visit the playgrounds with their children, relax from their working lives, everyday problems, take some fresh air and chill out.
But let’s have a look at its history:
When in the middle of the century the Elector Carl Theodor visited his residence in Benrath, he decided to have a new castle built because the old one was too damaged to make an effort of restoring it. The decision was made in 1756 and the architect Nicolas de Pigage, who was already in the elector's services since 1749, got the instruction to build a new hunting castle. The only part of the old castle that was left was the so-called orangery (in which you find a place for exhibitions and a public library nowadays).
Unfortunateley at that time the 7-years-war started and the works were interrupted, but already in 1760 they started the interior decorating, including a stuccoed ceiling and sculptures in the elector’s wife bedroom . The outbuildings and the gate lodges were constructed. Then the works on the stuccoed ceilings in the main room were finished. The building was finished in 1773.
What is most remarkable is the adjoining park, which was a hunting ground, but also had some lovely flowery places and a vegetable part. There are also some ponds, and a small river (the Itter) flows through it.
In 1795 French troups conquered the dukedom and damaged and robbed the castle of Benrath.
In 1799 Carl Theodor died in Munich. His successor, elector Maximilian IV. Joseph of Bayern, left the dukedom of Berg to his brother in law Duke Wilhelm. The duke and his family became the first permanent residents of Castle Benrath.
After the Vienna congress (where the successors over Napoleon distributed the countries anew) Castle Benrath came into the possession of the Prussian crown. In 1820 King Friedrich Wilhelm III. visited the castle and from 1821 – 1848 his nephew, Prince Friedrich Ludwig of Prussia came to Düsseldorf as Commander of the 20. Prussian Division. He and his wife, Princess Wilhelmine Luise, used Castle Benrath as summer residence. In the following decades a few dukes and princes spent some time here.
Even the Emperor Wilhem I. (the first German Emperor) had visited this place.
In 1911 the borough of Benrath bought the castle with all its buildings and the park, the contract included the obligation to tend it. The castle became a place for excursions with regular guided tours.
The west wing was being used first for flats and later as a fire department and the east wing was occupied by a school for boys.
After the borough of Benrath had been suburbanized to Düsseldorf in 1929, the city also took the castle into its possession.
During WW II the castle was bombed, but was restored later.
Since 1952 it is being used to host political visitors of North Rhine Westphalia.
In 1965 the restoration of the west wing began, later a museum for local nature and history was opened here.
In 1980 the school moved to another place. The east wing of the castle became to small. To be able to restore that part, the Rettet Torhaus und Ostflügel von Schloss Benrath (the society to rescue the east wing and gate house of Palace Benrath) was founded. Later a café opened here, and in the east wing a museum for garden architecture uses these premises. Also the former orchard with fruit trees has been re-instated on the east side.
Nicolas de Pigage (the architect) was in favour of the late baroque style, but he also was fond of modern architecture. So he built what was to become a perfect combination of a hunting place as well as a garden place – linked to the French Maison de plasir (house of pleasure). He put a great effort in the composition of the different houses (mayor house = Corps de logis, east- and west wing). He used stuccoes and sculptures to emphasize the effect of a place of pleasure.
What is also remarkable is the phenomenon that from the outside you think the castle has 2 storeys, but in fact it has 4. And everything is symmetrical.
The park shows a variety of scenarios that are composed in a very harmonic way.
You start in front of the castle, where there is a round pond. On its back there is the so-called Spiegelweiher (mirror pond) – which is rectangular and really mirrors the castle. A third pond in the park also invites to sit and rest.
The mayor house optically forms the highest and central point from which all the axis’ of the garden start. The different axis’ divide the garden into its smaller parts – like the English garden, the trumpet (another water place) and a vegetable garden.
In 2000, the Stiftung Schloss und Park Benrath (the 'Benrath Palace and Park Foundation) was founded, and the castle came part of it, since 2004 also the park belongs to this foundation.
In the beginning of this Century the Euroga, a European garden exhibition, took place in Düsseldorf and Benrath was part of it. Some of the old parts were reconstructed, like the vegetable garden and the electresses’ flower garden.
Especially in summer concerts are being given here – with water and light shows, and fireworks.
You can often find newly-weds taking their pictures here – who wouldn’t want to have a photo taken in the bridal gown in front of a beautiful castle?
When you want a lovely afternoon out in Düsseldorf you should go and visit the castle and its park, then go for a stroll in the nearby town center of Benrath, which is still called village these days.
How to get thereFrom the airport:
Take the train S7 or S1 (depending from which Terminal you start) to the Main Station then
From the Main Station:
Trains S6, RE 5 or RE 6, Stop Benrath S-Bahnhof
From Jan-Wellem-Platz (near the Altstadt):
Tram 701 to Benrath, Stop Schloss Benrath
16th April to 31st October
Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
1st November to 15th April
Tuesday to Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Museum of European Garden History is equipped with a toilet for the disabled as well as a lift
For more information have a look here: