Last year while spending a few days exploring Bavaria, I was surprised by one thing more than any other: There was an abundance of Rococo design. Here’s Wieskircke, a famous church and prime example:
Wieskircke, which was built in the 1700s, sits alone among grassy hills and rolling fields. When I visited, there were heavy clouds and a steady rain. It was cold enough to see my breath both outside and inside.
Rococo was an artistic movement that happened in the late 18th Century. It’s characterized by exuberance, emotion, color, and excess. It influenced everything from architecture to the visual arts, and Rococo buildings are typically filled with dazzling detail and frills.
There is a delightful frivolity to some Rococo works; if the style was a dinner course, it would certainly be dessert.
Though it probably shouldn’t have, seeing Rococo design in Germany surprised me. I’ve seen a number of Rococo buildings before in France, Spain, Italy, and Brazil. But all of those countries are Catholic and speak romance languages. They have a lot in common.
My preconceptions of Germany, on the other hand, were all about the Reformation and the cultural asceticism that came with it.
But there it was, the church on a hill and an interior filigreed to the hilt.
Here’s another example:
The picture above shows the interior of Ettal Abbey, a monastery in the tiny town of Ettal that is free to visit and (at least when I was there) quiet and uncrowded.
It was exciting to see all this Rococo work because I happen to be a fan of the style’s artistic excess. But it was also eye-opening; as soon as I saw these sites I realized there was a cultural and artistic connection between this region and other places I had visited before. I realized my preconceptions about Germany were too narrow, and I discovered an area where I needed to do more reading. It was, in other words, exactly the kind of thing I travel for.
— Jim Dalrymple II