The Landshut Residence is the earliest example of a Renaissance palace in Germany. It is a monumental symbol of the duke's role in the city.With the death of Georg the Rich in 1503 the male line of the Landshutbranch of the ruling Wittelsbacher family came to an end and the town was plunged into a war of succession. As aresult, Landshut lost its position as ducal seat and power passed to the family's Munich line: to Duke Albrecht and after his death to his oldest son Wilhelm IV. However, Wilhelm's younger brother Ludwig was to restore Landshut to some of its old importance: he successfully challenged the primogeniture law of 1506, which dictated that the kingdom could not be divided and that power must pass solely to the oldest male heir. Ludwig argued that asthe law was passed after his birth, it could not apply to him. He was awarded the right to co-govern and consequently established himself in 1516 in Landshut and remained responsible for the Bavarianlowlands until his death in 1545.
The middle ages passed into modern times. The ideas of the Renaissance, the “new birth" of interest in Ancient Greece and Rome, began to infiltrate Germany from Italy and with it the ideas Humanism and itsbelief in the benefit of learningfrom a wide basis in science and the arts. Ludwig X, who had been taught by the famous humanist Johann Turmair of Abensberg, became a follower of the architectural Renaissance. In 1536 he replaced several old Gothic buildings in the Altstadt with a new building quite in keeping with the times, built by German craftsmen. However, during a visit to Mantua in the same year, he was so impressed with the “Palazzo Ducale" of his host, Duke Federigo Gonzaga, that he employed Italian craftsmen to complete the work on the Landshut Residence. The result was the first Renaissance palace north of the Alps. This refers to the three rear wings of the building, called the “Italian Building" the original “German Building" is the wing in the Altstadt.
The Residence was the first intrusion into the previously homogenous Gothic architecture of the medieval Altstadt.
The master builder of the German Building in the Altstadt was Bernhard Zwitzel of Augsburg and the work was overseen by Niklas Überreiter. In the case of the Italian Building, the work was led by Master Sigmund “Walch" of Mantua with his foreman Bernhard “Walch" and between 15 and 25 Italian craftsmen who came over the Alps in spring and returned to their homes in autumn.
The decorative plaster work was also completed by Italian craftsmen between 1538 and 1542. In 1540 the painters began their work, firstly Master Herrmann who referred to himself as “Posthumus". Almost nothing is known about him, only the inscription on the red marble tablet on the outer wall of the chapel of St Martin"s throws some light on his sad story: “For God the best and greatest. For worthy, loving Petronella, my most loved and Christian Dutch wife, has Herrmann Posthumus, the painter of Duke Ludwig, created this monument while struck down in deepest sorrow. She left her home and followed me, with child and in mutual and unique love but died after her arrival with the sweet and innocent child Herculus. They were laid to rest here as strangers in the midst of unknown dead in 1540. They rest with Christ and await the resurrection. One lived for 30 years, the other for 18 days. That their unavoidable fate be remember in ensuing ages."
From 1542 to 1543 Hans Bocksberger “Painter of Salzburg" worked in the Residence and subsequently, the third craftsman to add his mark to the building was Ludwig Renfinger of Munich in 1543. In addition, potters, sculptors and other craftsmen were employed during the building work. At the end of 1543 the building was finally completed. The Duke, however, had little chance to enjoy his new domicileas on 22nd April 1545 he died and was buried in Seligenthal.
From 1780 to 1800 Duke Wilhelm of Birkenfeld-Geinhaus lived and held court in the Residence and had the building restored for this purpose. The rich Renaissance front on the side of the Altstadt was replaced by what today is a rather uninteresting neo-classical fassade. Several rooms on the first floor of the German Building, now known as the “Birkenfeld Rooms" were decorated in a reserved empire style, the rich Renaissance wall paintings in the Italian Room were augmented by the neo-classical painting which can be seen today. A fountain was added to the wall of the left arcade, decorated with a sculpture by Christian Jorhan: a cherub playing with a dolphin. For the rear arcade Jorhan made busts of the four seasons:fineexamples of early neo-classical work from around 1780 (currently in storage, restoration is planned).
As a former seat of the Wittelsbacher family, the Residence belongs to the State of Bavaria, as does Trausnitz Castle. It is managed by the Bavarian Department for Palaces, Gardens and Lakes.
April - September
9.00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.
October - March
10.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.
Closed on Mondays
24.12., 25.12., 31.12.
1.1., Shrove Tuesday
Approx. 45 minutes
Every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 2.00 p.m. extended tour of rooms on the ground floor.
March – December, every third Saturday in the month, open to the public without a tour.
2,50 Euro reduced