Visit Birken Palace and Colmdorf Palace in Bayreuth.
Birken Palace (Schloss Birken)
From the hunting lodge . . .
Between the city center and the university is located on a small hill the castle Birken in the district of the same name. It was first mentioned in documents in 1459 as a house on the “Pircken”. Hereditary Prince Erdmann Augustus of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1615–51) built the Birken hunting lodge after 1647.
In 1686 Margrave Christian Ernst of Brandenburg-Bayreuth (1644/1661 – 1712) donated his hunting lodge Birken to his Oberhofmarschall Hans Wilhelm von Erffa, together with his estate and the associated lands.
He demolished the old hunting lodge and instead built a new building according to plans by the Margrave architect Charles Philippe Dieussart. The heavy baroque white stucco ceilings in the staircase and in the first-floor representation rooms were designed between 1689 and 1692 by the Italian Bernardo Quadri, who already created stucco ceilings in early margrave and aristocratic churches in the region.
Under Prime Minister Erdmann Freiherr von Stein, Schloss Birken experienced its heyday in 1724–39. During the summer months, the castle is the permanent residence of the Margrave Minister. In the Audience Hall he receives court officials, envoys and petitioners. In addition to large court hunts in the estates, splendid festivals take place in the Baroque Hall. Margrave Wilhelmine (1709–1758) and Margrave Friedrich (1711/1735–1763) were often guests. In 1740, Birken Castle was transferred to the Baron von Stein‘schen Stiftung, the days of hunting lodge were over. Margrave Friedrich prefers to ride along the extended Friedrichstraße past birches to the hunting grounds Thiergarten and from 1756/57 prefers the new construction of the hunting lodge in Kaiserhammer and the wild Fichtelgebirge.
. . . to the Stein’s Foundation and to the private property
Castle Birken remained in the possession of the Baron von Stein‘schen Stiftung until 1956. Baroness Christiane Charlotte von Stein decrees in the letter of foundation that: “from my intended wealth . . . always four poor noble widows or young lady are provided with accommodation, food and maintenance on the Birken, four other poor civic widows from the local town but also standing in the houses in front of the Birken Palace . . . are provided with accommodation and food . . . !”
From 1956 to 1975, the castle became the private residence of the von Hoesslin families and from 1975 it became the private residence of the Peter Rothenbücher family. Since 1979 it has been known nationally as the art auction house P. Rothenbücher KG.
Text: Peter Rothenbücher
Colmdorf Palace (Schloss Colmdorf)
After the death of Margrave Wilhelmine, Margrave Friedrich purchased the country palace, Colmdorf Palace, built in 1754/55 by the then court building inspector Rudolf Heinrich Richter on behalf of the Margrave Minister Freiherr von Reitzenstein. It first served as a gift and residence for his second wife Sophie Caroline Marie, an educated and attractive princess of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel.
Schloss Colmdorf or Carolinenruhe, as it is also called, experienced numerous different owners and had a correspondingly varied history. From 1901 to 1912, Isolde, the eldest daughter of Richard and Cosima Wagner, and her husband Franz Philipp Beidler lived in the castle on Königsallee, before it finally fell into a dormant sleep for decades.
2021 – Restored in new splendor
Since July 2021, Schloss Colmdorf has been perfectly restored and equipped with original furniture, as well as Schloss Birken, to the public as a baroque castle museum under the direction of the Rothenbücher family. In addition to valuable inventory from the time of the Margrave, guided tours also include the exquisite stucco work by Adam Rudolph Albini, who also designed the stucco work in the Old Castle of the Hermitage and in various Margrave churches.
Further information and guided tours: