Everything radiates splendour, opulence and preciousness in the newly restored Johannisburg Palace in Aschaffenburg: thanks to transparent shading of the windows, the exhibition rooms with the princely picture collection are now much lighter and extremely colourful with new wall coverings. The renovation period lasted seven years. Now the State Gallery, the Princely Living Quarters and the Parament Chamber are accessible again.

Katharina Deschka

Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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The reopening was long awaited by the visitors. Thanks to its 52-metre-high corner towers, the castle is Aschaffenburg's landmark, visible from afar. Since 2015, the red sandstone building above the banks of the Main has been in a fairytale sleep. Or rather: a part of the mighty castle. In the first construction phase, the Main wing facing the river was renovated. In order to restore the facades of the wing of the building and the two adjacent towers, the Free State of Bavaria has invested around 15.7 million euros.

Architectural models made of cork

In the second construction phase, the other wings of the structure with side lengths of 2024.87 and 5 meters are to be repaired from 86 onwards and the Main terrace is to be rebuilt. For visitors, however, these upcoming construction projects may not be so important. Many of the castle's attractions, especially the Staatsgalerie, part of the Bavarian State Painting Collections, with its important Cranach collection, with the depiction of the Crucifixion of Christ by Hans Baldung Grien and with its Dutch and Flemish masters, are located in the newly restored Main wing.

For the new presentation, 253 paintings were conserved and restored, frames were reconstructed, and pairs of paintings were assembled. The collection of paraments with its precious chasubles and liturgical utensils from the collections of the Archbishops of Mainz will also be presented in a new way. The princely living quarters are also located in the renovated part of the building. In front of coloured silk damask walls, the classicist furniture, which was made by Electoral Archbishop Friedrich Karl Joseph von Erthal at the end of the 18th century, shines in new splendor.

The architectural models, made of cork since 1792, can be seen unchanged, with buildings from ancient Rome. The new path through the castle also leads to the gallery of the castle chapel, where you can take a seat like the Elector once did – with a view of the altar with alabaster figures created by the sculptor Hans Juncker between 1609 and 1613.

You can easily spend several hours in the Renaissance castle, which was built between 1605 and 1614. It was commissioned by Elector Johann Schweikard von Kronberg. He had the remains of the medieval castle demolished, which had previously stood there and to which Albrecht of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, had brought his art treasures in 1539 – like the works of Lucas Cranach the Elder.

The history of the castle, which served as the most important secondary residence of the Archbishops and Electors of Mainz until 1803 and was most recently the residence of Friedrich Karl von Erthal, who had to flee from the French troops from Mainz in 1792, can be learned during the tour. And also that at the end of the Second World War only the walls of the castle were still standing, until they began to rebuild it in the fifties.

Johannesburg has always been subject to change, at least inside, even though its defiant walls have stood almost unchanged in the landscape for centuries. Some of the fascinating views of Aschaffenburg painted by Ferdinand Kobell between 1785 and 1789 remain almost unchanged to this day. Like the view of the poplar avenue to Schönbusch. The penultimate Elector of Mainz, Friedrich Karl Joseph von Erthal, also had this landscape park laid out. Without the old curtains, you can see them in the distance from the castle.

For more information, see www.schloesser.bayern.de.