The Residential Palace
The present site of the palace marks the birthplace of Saalfeld, which was first recorded in 899 as the Royal Court of „Saalauelda“.From the 11th Century onwards, until it was stormed during the Peasants’ War, a Benedictine monastery stood here. Up until the Reformation this abbey was the wealthiest monastery in Thuringia.
According to the rules of the order, the monks were expected to be obedient, silent, reliable and humble. The greater part of the day was spent in combined or individual prayer, in silent meditation or spiritual learning. Otherwise one was engaged in manual work for the benefit of the community.
When Saalfeld was exalted in the 17th Century to the status of Residence in the region of Gotha, the monastery was demolished. The new residential palace was built according to the designs of an architect from Altenburg, and the stairwell was the work of a stucco artist from Milan. Because of the enormous financial difficulties and ongoing interruptions, the two wings of the horseshoe-shaped complex were not completed until the year 1720.
The palace chapel is in the north wing. The extravagant stucco decoration by Italian masters and the monumental painted ceiling which depicts the Holy Trinity, glorified with princes of the Church, apostles and prophets. Figures from the Old Testament such as Moses and David are recognisable in the medallions, and the whole composition is framed in acanthus leaves, a typical plant from the Mediterranean region.
Today the Residential Palace is the seat of the of Saalfeld and Rudolstadt district administration.
Please now make your way from the palace to the main street. Follow this to the right and, at the end, turn into the “Ziegelgasse”. From there you will see the Church of St Gertrude.