A ducal residence with a southern flair
At the edge of Güstrow‘s old town, one of the most important Renaissance castles in northern Europe surprises with its unexpected southern European charm. Duke Ulrich of Mecklenburg began building a magnificent residence here in 1558 to replace a former medieval castle. In order to construct the new south and west wings he engaged Franz Parr as the master builder. Parr managed to achieve a synthesis of Italian, French and German architectural concepts that was unique for both the era and the region. This reflected both the duke‘s cosmopolitan attitude as well as his political claim to leadership.
Splendid stucco ceilings, regarded as among the most remarkable in Germany, have been preserved from when the castle was built. The quaint banquet hall ceiling is especially lavish, for the most part featuring exotic hunting scenes adapted from Dutch copper engravings.
With his lively frieze of red deer, around 1570 Christoph Parr already created the prototype for stately decorations featuring wild animals that subsequently found great popularity across Europe.
As the magnificently decorated court of Wallenstein, the princely residence was a focal point of European history for a brief period during the Thirty Years War.
In 1657, the last Duke of Güstrow, Gustav Adolf, entrusted the Huguenot Charles Philippe Dieussart with the modernisation of his residence. The main testimonies to this era are the Baroque gatehouse and the castle bridge. With the number of buildings on the grounds now reduced, the former ducal seat served as the Mecklenburg state farm worker house from 1817 to 1950. Following extensive restoration work from 1963 to 1978, its former splendour now shines once again in a large portion of the historic representational rooms.
The vaulted rooms of the basement house one of the most important medieval collections of northern Germany. Precious art chamber items and ducal hunting and ceremonial weapons attest to the splendid furnishings and fittings of courtly life. The Renaissance and Baroque paintings, as well as the sculptures and furnishings in the former dining halls, residential and reception rooms give new life to the glamour of the one-time ducal seat. Among the outstanding pieces on display here are works by Cranach, Maerten de Vos and Tintoretto. On the floor where the former chambers of the duchess once were, antique ceramic vessels and an extensive glass collection are on display. With a neon piece by François Morellet and exhibitions in the service buildings from the 19th century, positions from the 20th and 21st centuries are prominently presented.
The reconstructed garden terrace is an inviting place to wander at leisure between fragrant beds of lavender and along shady walkways and calm moats.