The article below was published in Pinnable’s newsletter in .

Lake Constance

Meersburg New Palace

After the city of Constance joined the Reformation in the 1520s, its prince-bishops relocated to the other side of the lake, where they resided at Meersburg Castle. In 1710, Prince-Bishop Johann Franz von Stauffenberg commissioned a new admin building next door, which his successor Damian Hugo von Schönborn had converted into a royal residence — Meersburg New Palace — by Balthasar Neumann, the architect whom he had previously hired to design Bruchsal Palace. As in Bruchsal, Neumann built a grand staircase, and a chapel. The pile was further adapted by its original architect Christoph Gessinger, who added the columns to the facade, and Franz Anton Bagnato, who restored Neumann’s staircase, which had already become dilapidated, and restyled the interior. In 1762, Prince-Bishop Franz Conrad von Rodt was finally able to move into the new palace. The last ecclesiastical prince moved out in 1802, when the Prince-Bishopric of Constance was dissolved and its territory was annexed to the Margraviate of Baden.

Meersburg New Palace
The palace with the teahouse on the garden’s lower terrace

On the lake side of the palace, we see the original baroque facade & the terraced formal garden designed by Gessinger in 1712, with the lovely yellow teahouse that he built as a retreat for Johann Franz. Situated high above the shores of Lake Constance, the garden offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Alps. Bagnato gave the palace a contemporary rococo-style appearance in 1759, topping the facade on the front side with curved pediments, and scattering the place with rocailles. Although it’s a monumental structure, the palace makes a cheerful & airy impression, thanks to the typical Southern German baroque architecture, the original stucco by Carlo Luca Pozzi and the marvellous pastel frescoes by Giuseppe Ignazio Appiani on the ceilings above the staircase and in the ceremonial hall. The lavishly decorated state apartment on the main floor reflects the resident’s rank in every possible way, and offers visitors a glimpse of the residential & everyday living culture of the prince-bishops.

Reader comments


Balthasar Neumann made his fame with the Residence of the Prince-Bishops Johann Philipp & Friedrich Karl von Schönborn in Würzburg, which is considered to be among the most significant baroque palaces in Europe. (Guess what Mr Staircase came up with as the eye-catcher here.) Neumann’s masterpiece is the Basilica of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in Bad Staffelstein, which is an architectural marvel. Like the New Palace in Meersburg, this church is decorated with frescoes by Giuseppe Appiani.


After the French spoliation of the left bank of the Rhine in 1794, it took several treaties before, in 1801, everybody, including the Holy Roman Emperor, recognized French sovereignty over the territory. Baden had already done so in 1796, in a treaty whereby France, in secret articles, committed to the cession of the Prince-Bishopric of Constance & other ecclesiastical territories, so Baden could annex them as a compensation for its losses west of the Rhine; this was reconfirmed in the treaties of Campo Formio (1797) and Lunéville (1801). As a result, the secularization of clerical property took place in 1802, sanctioned later in § 5 of the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss (1803), the last significant law enacted by the Holy Roman Empire before its dissolution in 1806. Palace-wise, the Margrave of Baden was less excited with the New Palace in Meersburg than he was with the Imperial Abbey in Salem, which became the family seat of the House of Baden.