A fortress and widow's residence

Kirchheim Palace

Interior courtyard, Kirchheim Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Thomas Kiel
SIX WIDOWS IN FOUR CENTURIES

THE BUILDING

Of the many ducal family members who have resided at Kirchheim Palace over the past 400 years, two duchesses, Franziska von Hohenheim and Henriette von Württemberg, left the largest mark.

Kirchheim Palace corner tower. Image: (not specified)

Exterior of the corner tower.

ROYAL LIVING AREAS ON THE THIRD FLOOR

Württemberg's dowager duchesses have repeatedly resided at Kirchheim Palace since the 17th century. When, after the death of a ruler, a new sovereign moved into the residence, his predecessor's widow needed to be provided with appropriate housing. This was even stipulated in the marriage contract. The dowager duchesses were given use of an apartment in the south wing of the third floor, Kirchheim Palace's bel étage. Almost every widow had the rooms redecorated in the style of her period.

An enfilade of royal rooms

Rooms arranged like a string of pearls.

AN ENFILADE OF ROOMS FOR THE WIDOW

The former summer dining room and a polygonal room in the corner tower are situated between the stairwell and the actual living areas. A sequence of 13 rooms follows. They are arranged in two rows, with a small servants' passage dividing them. The rooms appear as if on a string, "enfilade" in French. Attendants and servants, however, made do with less luxurious accommodations.

Portrait of Duchess Franziska von Hohenheim

Duchess Franziska von Hohenheim.

FRANZISKA VON HOHENHEIM

After the death of Duke Carl Eugen in 1793, his widow, Franziska, moved into the palace rooms. She commissioned architect Reinhard Ferdinand Heinrich Fischer, who installed wider portals to create greater elegance. Two rooms were also added on top of the casemates, as well as a garden. Furnishings from Solitude Palace and Hohenheim Palace afforded the rooms glamor and recalled life with the duke. The impression of modesty and refinement were typical for Franziska.

Watercolor of garden room at Kirchheim Palace, Pieter Francis Peters, 1857. Image: Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Garden room at Kirchheim Palace, watercolor by Pieter Francis Peters, 1857.

HENRIETTE VON WÜRTTEMBERG AND HER LARGE FAMILY

The furnishings found in the rooms today primarily reflect Henriette von Württemberg's lifestyle. She resided at Kirchheim Palace from 1811, originally still with her husband and their five children. She also spent 40 years here as a widow. Several watercolors from the 1850s show what her residence looked like. These depict Henriette's rooms in a wealth of detail, offering a precise model for when the rooms were later refurnished.

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