Celle Castle (German: Schloss Celle) or, less commonly, Celle Palace, in the German town of Celle in Lower Saxony was one of the residences of the House of Brunswick-Lüneburg. This four-winged building is the largest castle in the southern Lüneburg Heath region.
The castle still has a variety of rooms and halls that date back to the different period. The court chapel was converted after the Reformation and has been preserved almost unchanged with its renaissance architecture. The barock-style state rooms were created under George William and have also been preserved. In the Gothic Hall there are constantly changing exhibitions and in the East Wing is a section of Celle’s Bomann Museum, which is dedicated to the history of the Kingdom of Hanover. The historic castle rooms and the castle chapel, restored between 1978 and 1981, may be visited as part of a guided tour.
The court theatre of the castle, the Schlosstheater Celle, is well worth visiting as it is one of the oldest preserved theatres of its kind and one of the few barock theatres in North Germany. It still has its own theatre company today. The present Schlosstheater was built on the instigation of Duke George William, who before he came to power spent some time in Venice and came to know Italian opera whilst he was there. Construction work on the theatre began in 1670 and was largely finished by 1675. The duke hosted a succession of theatre companies, that he recruited, for example, from France, Italy and also nearby Hanover. On the death of the duke the theatrebecame orphaned until the short-lived stay of Caroline Matilda, for whom the theatre was given a second gallery. The theatre was conceived for the benefit of the court and was never intended to be open to the public, who were first allowed a moderate degree of access to plays at the end of the 18th century. The theatre was regularly used until the late 19th century, but was closed in 1890 and fell into disuse. In 1935 it underwent a thorough renovation.
Because the castle was never used for any military purposes, between 1785-1802 the outer bastions were dismantled and used as fill for the once deep, wide castle moats. In 1826 gardens were laid out in the vicinity of the castle by a levelling and removing the defensive embankments. In their place, trees and shrubs were planted and lawns laid. In the 19th century a landscape garden was created in the area immediately surrounding the castle. Since part of the park was give away for building residential accommodation around 1900, the park has had an area of about 7 hectares (17 acres). The castle still sits on an island today that is surrounded by moats. Outside the former defensive belt, but not far from the castle, George William had the French Garden (“Französischer Garten”) laid out in the late 17th century, a baroque park designed on French lines. This was also converted to an English landscape garden, but the former baroque layout can still be made out in certain areas of the park.
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