New splendor for an old castle - The Baroque Bothmer Palace complex | DW Travel | DW | 21.05.2015
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New splendor for an old castle - The Baroque Bothmer Palace complex

The largest Baroque palace complex in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is located in the Klützer Winkel district on the Baltic Sea. Count von Bothmer’s 300-year-old brick ensemble has been restored and will reopen at Whit Sunday.

The painting, polishing, sawing, hammering and gardening carried on right up to the very last minute. Now, after seven years of restoration, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's largest Baroque palace complex, the Bothmer Klütz Palace near the Baltic Sea, will reopen. Restoration work on the main house and the east wing of the palace, which was built between Luebeck and Wismar between 1726 and 1732, has now been completed, while the west wing will be finished by the end of the year.

A modern exhibition is one new feature of the old stately pile, explains art historian Silke Kreibich. During a tour of the 22 reconditioned residential and state rooms, visitors can find out about the life and work of the castle’s builder, Hans Caspar von Bothmer (1656-1732).

Retirement home for a footloose diplomat

Count Bothmer was a diplomat in the service of the Hanoverian Electors and later the Kings of England. In London, Bothmer lived at Number 10 Downing Street, today the official residence of British Prime Minister. The house even once used to be called "Bothmar House." "The Count didn’t only make his fortune through stocks and grain and horse trading, but also thanks to an abundance of kickbacks," Silke Kreibich says.

Schloss Bothmer öffnet am Pfingstsamstag

The count is present - inside the palace

From 1721, Bothmer put his money into properties in Mecklenburg, and his castle in the hinterland of the Baltic coast was his crowning investment. Inspired by his travels, the Count loved Dutch and English architecture, which is reflected in his magnificent stately home. The vast ensemble was designed by the architect Friedrich Künnecke. Bothmer died shortly before it was completed and never set foot in it.

The Bothmer family lived in the property until 1945. Fleeing to the West, they took their furniture with them, but curiously left their portrait gallery behind. The paintings were later taken to the museum storehouse in Schwerin and given back in 1990. The family silverware - cutlery, candlesticks and serving jugs - was accidentally discovered in April 2012 during excavation work in the palace gardens. It was returned to the heirs as well. Immediately after the war, the castle was used as a hospital.

From nursing home to resplendent museum

From 1948 to1994, the red brick palace - with its 3,000 square meters of floor space - was used as an old people's home. After several failed privatizations, followed by years of abandonment and decay, the state took it over in 2008. It now houses a museum, concert and event rooms, and a café and restaurant.

Schloss Bothmer öffnet am Pfingstsamstag

A warm welcome - The palace and gardens after painstaking restoration work

The restoration cost more than 36 million euros, the bulk of it from EU coffers. The scope of the construction work was enormous: 740 tons of concrete alone were poured into the new foundations, project manager Siefert notes. Six thousand five hundred square meters of facade were renovated, 280 historic windows reconstructed, 1300 square meters of stucco restored and 1,500 square meters of wooden floorboards renewed.

The castle museum is open daily from May to October, except on Mondays. During the winter months there are guided tours on request. The bilingual exhibition extends from the ground to the upper floor with its grand ballroom and bears the Bothmer motto: "Respice Finem" - "Consider the End."