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One of Württemberg's late medieval palaces

Urach Residential Palace

Detail of a ceremonial sleigh, part of the exhibition at Urach Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Janna Almeida
Royal winter delights

The ceremonial sleigh

collection

The collection of ceremonial sleighs, curated by the Landesmuseum Württemberg, is located on the third floor above the Hall of Palms. It is the largest collection of historic ceremonial sleighs in the world. Many of the sleighs demonstrate the representational drive of princely rulers.

Stag sleigh, part of the exhibition at Urach Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Janna Almeida

Ceremonial sleigh with the figure of a stag.

One of a kind in the world

The impressive collection comprises 22 ceremonial sleighs, created at the request of Württemberg's dukes in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and is the largest collection of its kind in the world. The elaborate craftsmanship of the ceremonial sleighs on display convey luxury and exoticism. The ceremonial sleighs are decorated with ancient goddesses, mythical creatures and wild animals. However, they were more than just representative showpieces; they could also be pulled by horses and used as actual sleighs.

Example of a ceremonial sleigh, part of the exhibition at Urach Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Thomas Kiehl

Detail of a ceremonial sleigh.

On display for the people

The well-organized royal sleigh rides were an inherent part of winter celebrations. They also served as royal representation. The excursions were staged as veritable stage spectacles, with the prince leading the caravan of stately sleighs. The rides often took place at night and were announced for miles around with drums and trumpets. The impressive vehicles were presented to the public by torchlight and with musical accompaniment.

Ceremonial sleigh in the shape of a wild boar, part of the exhibition at Urach Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff

Out and about with the wild boar.

Ceremonial sleighs as works of art

They are works of art and no expense was spared in their creation. Sculptors, ornamental carpenters, wainwrights and gilders worked together to create them. They were fashioned by established court artists and craftsmen, who had previously worked on the residential palaces. The royal commissioners spared no expense or effort. Around 1730, Duke Eberhard Ludwig von Württemberg’s fleet consisted of nearly 25 ceremonial sleighs. Another ten sleighs were added by Duke Carl Eugen.

Detail of the Victoria ceremonial sleigh, part of the exhibition at Urach Palace. Image: Württembergisches Landesmuseum, credit unknown

Decorated with classical motifs.

An artistic highlight: the Victoria sleigh

Duke Friedrich II von Württemberg revived the tradition of royal sleigh rides and again used them for purposes of royal representation as an expression of his absolutist rule. The Victoria sleigh was artistically altered on the occasion of his elevation to the rank of king. The magnificent sleigh was originally from the early 18th century, recognizable by its Baroque cherubs. It was converted in the Classical style and decorated with flower motifs and geometrical patterns.

Detail of a ceremonial sleigh, part of the exhibition at Urach Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Janna Almeida
Detail of a ceremonial sleigh, part of the exhibition at Urach Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Janna Almeida
Detail of a ceremonial sleigh, part of the exhibition at Urach Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Janna Almeida

Imaginative and stately: the figures on the ceremonial sleighs.

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