WILLKOMMEN IN DER STADT ZWEIBRÜCKEN
Historical City Tour
1. History by the running metre…
From: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, From my Life: Poetry and Truth
Find out what Zweibrücken has to do with the Pinakothek picture gallery in Munich, Napoleon’s horse, the American War of Independence and the Hambach festival. Pick up the trail and follow a tour through the city’s history.
You will reach the ruins of Tschifflick via the 2.8 km „Rose Path“ starting from the Rosengarten Zweibrücken. The hotel and restaurant „Rosengarten am Park”, the restaurant at the camping ground and the Romantik Hotel Landschloss Fasanerie will offer opportunities for a repast along the way.
2. From Gardener’s Residence to Town Museum
Painting by Karl Kaspar Pitz, 1779
Court gardener Ernst August Bernhard Petri, shown here with his children grieving over his dead wife, had this representative building erected in 1768 to a design by court architect Hautt.
His initials AP are immortalized on the early Classicist balcony railings. The owner’s profession is indicated by the motifs of the balcony trusses and the inter-floor stairs.
The building remained in the ownership of Petri’s descendants until 1960, and has housed the municipal museum ever since then.
The “Petrihaus” building was fundamentally restored in the years 2004-06.
Self-portrait of Mannlich with his wife, 1778
Duke Christian IV., who had fortuitously won this house in his own building lottery, gave it to his court painter Johann Christian von Mannlich as a gift. Mannlich was a great painter and universal genius who would go on to also design Karlsberg palace for Charles II August.
He later saved the valuable art collection housed in Karlsberg palace from French revolutionary troops by taking it across the Rhine.
Mannlich subsequently used the over 2,000 paintings and 7,000 prints to establish the Munich “Pinakothek” art museum.
4. Building Lottery
Picture postcard, around 1900
The Herzogsvorstadt (ducal suburb), designed by court architect Hautt, today is the oldest architectural ensemble to survive in Zweibrücken – even the devastating 1945 bombings were unable to harm it.
The duke’s higher-ranking office bearers such as valets and court gardeners resided here in the vicinity of the palace from 1770. To provide financing for any gap sites remaining the duke came up with the idea of a compulsory lottery for all public servants, municipalities and guilds. The lottery winners then became proud homeowners.
5. Cradle of Liberty
Johann Georg August Wirth (1798 -1848), freedom fighter, two years in Zweibrücken unfreedom
It all started in the Westrich region. The heads behind the German freedom movement were active in Zweibrücken. The reason being that the supreme Palatine court of law was also Germany’s most liberal. The French Code Civil provided the legal and intellectual breeding ground for their uprising against the outdated principalities.
In 1832, Siebenpfeiffer, Schüler and Wirth were co-founders of the „Pressverein“, Germany’s very first free press organization. Without them there would have been no rally at the “Hambacher Fest”. But the champions of unity, justice and freedom paid with their own personal liberty.
6. Church History
Portrait of Charles XII. of Sweden
When two Protestant churches, Karlskirche and Alexanderskirche, are placed in sight of each other, an interesting background story is guaranteed.
The whole of Zweibrücken was Reformed in the 17th century. When the Swedish King Charles XII. sent his Lutheran officials to Zweibrücken, this minority lacked a church of its own. At the time, a combination of the Reformed and Lutheran denominations was as unthinkable as that of Protestants and Catholics.
7. Arsonist Unpunished
Built 1877 - 1879
There is nothing left of the great synagogue built in 1879 to remind one of the Jewish community that had once been an integral part of Zweibrücken life. Over 100 years of Jewish history were permanently obliterated in the night of the pogrom dated November 9/10, 1938.
Despite the presence of the fire brigade, the synagogue fire was not extinguished.
Neither did the Zweibrücken synagogue trial in 1951 bring any perpetrators to light.
8. Right at the centre for over 400 years
Town Charter April 16, 1352
The town hall stood here, in the heart of the city, for over 400 years.
Once the town charter had been granted on April 16, 1352, the citizenry’s self-administration arrived. The town hall’s destruction in 1677 by the french and the new building erected in approximately the same location in 1699 are documented. So even as long ago as that, life pulsated here, in the centre of the town, with traders offering their wares in roofed walks provided at the time. Following several relocations, the town hall has now been at Herzogplatz square since 1952, for the second time in its checkered history.
9. Immigration Policies
Even as early as 1700, the Swedes already showed an interest in furnishing Zweibrücken. Especially as the town was in a pitiful state. The Swedish King Charles XII, having inherited Zweibrücken, commissioned Count Gabriel von Oxenstierna with the administration.
A stroke of luck. Modern urban development activities such as draining the marshy soil, combined with an open immigration policy - encompassing many families from France and Switzerland – prepared the ground for the duchy’s flowering in the 18th century.
10. Sissi’s Zweibrücken Grandfather
Before the destruction in 1945
He was a true Zweibrücken Prince from the Wittelsbach dynasty, Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria - as well as being Elisabeth of Bavaria’s (Sissi’s) grandfather. Initially Duke of Zweibrücken and then, following his accession in 1806, the first King of Bavaria.
Until the 1945 bombings, the Alexanderskirche church had served the Wittelsbachers as a family vault. In 2001, Prince Alexander was interred here. He was the proud great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of the builder, Duke Alexander.
11. The two bridges of Zweibrücken
Model in the town museum
The Saarbrücken pre-history of Zweibrücken: If the Saarbrücken counts had not diverted the old salt route from Lorraine around 1170 in a cloak-and-dagger operation, then built a castle accessible by two bridges and made a son of theirs Count of Zweibrücken - then the first citizens would never have settled here under the castle's protection. Zweibrücken grew, replete with town wall and town gates. The Schwarzbach river island used to be located where the traffic island of the coach station is situated today.
12. Exile builds pleasure palace
Painting of the 9-year old Maria Leszczynska
This is where she used to play, the 11-year old Maria Leszczynska, daughter of an exiled family, who would later, in 1725, be afforded the opportunity to move into the palace at Versailles as Louis XV’s spouse and Queen of France. Her father, Stanislaus Leszczynski, fugitive king of Poland, rode out his Zweibrücken exile by building the pleasure palace “Tschifflick“.
Countless glittering feasts, numerous music and theatre performances injected cultural life and courtly splendour into the city – and stimulated the labour market.
13. Mystic basement tales
Objects of in-depth research
Used as a refuge underneath the town featuring a hospital, town administration and living quarters from 1944.
Excavation traces seem to indicate first beginnings in the middle of the 16th century. Their incorporation in a French fortress line by Vauban around 1680 is likely – technical architectural similarities with Bitche seem to suggest so.
14. White Gold
Admire the collection in the town museum
China, Meissen, Zweibrücken – thanks to the economic assistance provided by Duke Christian IV, who benefited from Joseph Michael Stahl’s alchemical skills, the Zweibrücken’s upper classes were able to set their coffee tables with Rococo-inspired crockery for eight years.
But a shortage of purchasing power enforced mass production of simple ceramics as early as 1775. The ducal porcelain manufacture was located here, at Schlossplatz square.
15. Gossip and Classics
Important historic assets
Page after page for bookworms, saved from destruction again and again. Besides Speyer, Zweibrücken was the only Palatine town to feature printing before 1500.
Jörg Gessler, our letterpress printer, was notorious for his popular scandal stories.
Whereas the Bibliotheca Bipontina, one of the pillars of Zweibrücken as a centre of learning and education, achieved fame in scientific circles. Scientists from all around the globe used to come to Zweibrücken for their research, and continue to do so today.
16. Princely Residence
Built in 1720 by duke Gustav Samuel Leopold
Clear lines, no frills – while Zweibrücken is characterized by Baroque architecture, this palace by master architect Jonas Erickson Sundahl was built in the style of northern Baroque. It used to serve the dukes of the Palatine Wittelsbach lineage as a residence.
Max I Joseph, who would succeeded to the Bavarian throne in 1799 and in 1806 become the first king of Bavaria, also spent a few years here in his youth. His memorial is situated in the palace gardens. In the 19th century, the palace was initially used as a church and court house; from 1867 on-wards it became a “palace of justice”. Destroyed in World War II and rebuilt according to original plans, the pa-lace since 1965 is once again the location of the Palatine Higher Regional Court and public prosecutor’s office.
17. Garden town
Garden Plan by Petri
The green heart of the town started beating when the physician and botanist Hieronymus Bock rose to fame by producing the first german herbarium in the 16th century. The art of horticulture reached its high point in the 18th century – with spectacular inner-city park facilities in a Baroque style. Only one of the Baroque green veins survives today. The canal and avenue still testify to the splendour of these times, a joy for strollers and joggers alike.
18. March in Time
Royal Deux Ponts regiment, Zweibrücken town museum
The march through history is accompanied by military over five centuries. Uniforms characterized the town’s landscape, brought temporary wealth, and played a part in public life. One regiment to be formed in Zweibrücken is the Royal Deux Ponts, which fought valiantly in the American War of Independence in 1781. Here is where Bavarian units were drilled from 1816, where French occupation troops marched from 1919 to 1930. Apart from Berlin, Zweibrücken used to be the only four-garrison city with Americans, Canadians, French and the German Bundeswehr, which is still here.
19. Blossoming Tradition
Picture postcard from 1916
Everything started in 1539 with the herb garden of famous „Kreutter-Buch“-author Hieronymus Bock. The later Baroque garden expanded to grand dimensions, extending from the palace garden right up to Niederauerbach in the 18th century.
The opening of the rosarium by princess Hildegard of Bavaria on the site of the former ducal court gardens was the last ceremonial event to be held before the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
20. On a High Horse
Poster section from 1913, Stadtmuseum
180 years at a full gallop. Not Munich/Daglfing, Baden-Baden/Iffezheim, Berlin/Marien-feld, but Zweibrücken/Rennwiese. The first horserace is documented in the weekly Zweibrücker Wochenblatt dated August 26, 1821.
Having included public entertainments in the beginning, the event’s fame in sportive and society terms had by 1876 already spread beyond the borders, attracting not only the officers and officials who socialized here, but also the general populace, arriving en masse by special trains.
21. Horse Whispers
Napoleon mounted on Fayoum at Austerlitz
The stud farm was founded by Christian IV in 1755. There is talk of Fayoum, the thorough-bred Arab horse Napoleon rode in the battle at Austerlitz, and includes whispered information about the animal’s qualities as a breeding stallion.
The Zweibrücken stock was held in high esteem by the cavalry and couriers, but regional agriculture also benefited from the breeding qualities of the stud farm.
The stud farm today rides into the future with fresh equestrian enthusiasm and by breeding horses for leisure pursuits.
22. House of Culture
Built in 1760 to a design by Pierre Patte
At the former location of the orangery, a building with an interesting use concept: In the winter months it provided a protective domicile for valuable exotic plants featured in the Baroque gardens – whereas in the summer, princely culture blossomed here and theatre events were held. It was the troops of the French revolution who destroyed the august architecture in 1793, while the houses of the commoners were spared.
The only elements to remain from the original orangery are the north-eastern stair turret and parts of the back wall, all of which were integrated in a residential building later.
23. Summer Residence
Country estate of Stanislaus Leszczynski
The valley virtually invited the design of a country estate featuring a unique garden landscape.
The terraces, water works and the „trumpet hill“ opposite merged into a synthesis of the arts, in Baroque open-air stagings. At Tschifflick, court society amused itself in attractive wooden pavilions.
By the way, in 1715 the exiled king didn't live in what is today a hotel: this was first converted from a restaurant in the 20th century.