The Würzburg Residence (German: Würzburg Residenz) is a palace in Würzburg, southern Germany. Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt and Maximilian von Welsch, representants of the Austrian/South German Baroque were involved in the construction, as well as Robert de Cotte and Germain Boffrand, who were followers of the French Style. Balthasar Neumann, architect of the court of the Bishop of Würzburg, was the principal architect of the Residenz, which was commissioned by the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn and his brother Friedrich Carl von Schönborn in 1720, and completed in 1744. The Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, assisted by his son,Domenico, painted frescoes in the building. Interiors include the grand staircase, the chapel and the grand salon. The building was dubbed the “nicest parsonage in Europe” by Napoleon. It was heavily damaged in World War II, and restoration has been in progress since 1945.
As a result of a devastating air raid on March 16 1945, the Residence was almost completely burnt out and only the central building with the Vestibule, Garden Hall, Staircase, White Hall and Imperial Hall survived the inferno, their roofs destroyed. From the attic the fire ate down through wooden ceilings and floors, and all the furnishings and wall paneling which had not been stored elsewhere were devoured by the flames. Much of the furnishing and large sections of the wall paneling of the period rooms had been removed in time and thus escaped destruction. Neumann’s stone vaults withstood the collapse of the burning attic. However, because the roofs had gone, further damage was incurred in the ensuing period due to dampness. In the Court Chapel, for example, the most of the ceiling frescoes by Rudolph Byss succumbed to the subsequent consequences of the fire in spite of the intact vault and had to be laboriously reconstructed. From 1945 to 1987 the building and its interiors were reconstructed to their current state. The rebuilding cost about €20m Euros.
The Würzburg Residence with its Court Gardens and Residence Square was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981. According to the Advisory Body Evaluation, the inclusion in the List was a “measure… so clearly desirable that the proposal of the Federal Republic of Germanydoes not require lengthy justification… The Residence is at once the most homogeneous and the most extraordinary of the Baroque palaces… It represents a unique artistic realization by virtue of its ambitious program, the originality of creative spirit and the international character of its workshop.”