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Munich Residenz, Munich

1 Residenzstrasse
Germany 80333
Tel: 49 89 290 671's insider take:

The seat of the Wittelsbach dynasty, Bavaria's ruling clan for 500 years, the Residenz was begun in 1385 and grew by fits and starts over the next several centuries. One courtyard, the Königsbauhof, juxtaposes three architectural styles on its three facades—Italian Renaissance, stern imperial Prussian, and Baroque each testify to shifting eras of construction and taste. The Renaissance facade looking onto Max-Joseph Platz gives no clue to the riches within: This huge complex, and its adjoining State Treasury with the crown jewels et al, could easily swallow whole days. Highly recommended are the Grottenhof, an early Baroque folly of a grotto featuring classical statuary and a fountain of Neptune encrusted in mussel and clam shells, and the gorgeous Antiquarium, a long, frescoed hall of Roman statuary that features buttressed ceilings and a hauntingly perfect sense of proportion and light. Much of the complex was destroyed in World War II and painstakingly restored subsequently at staggering expense, but trompe-l'oeil facades in some courtyards betray the budget limitations of rebuilding. Nonetheless, an over-the-top must-see.

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