Ever since writing my first book about Princess Carolina of Orange-Nassau, I have wanted to visit Kirchheimbolanden, where she lived, died and was buried.
The Palace of Kirchheimbolanden was built between 1738 and 1740 under Carolina’s father-in-law. Not all of the palace as Carolina would have known it survives to this day. Her son was forced to flee from Kirchheimbolanden in 1793 during the occupation by the French, which effectively ended its function as a Princely residence. It was sold in 1807 and the new owner had the central structure and the left wing demolished. Thus, only the right wing remains, though this suffered fire damage. After passing through several more hands, the other two wings were rebuilt in 2003 and you can now sort of see what the structure would have looked like.
It is currently in use a residence for seniors and when we visited the right wing was covered in scaffolding. It is not open to the public and I assume that very little original elements remain. Next to the palace stands the Lutheran Paulskirche where Carolina’s husband is buried. The plaque near the door mentions a family crypt but the tourist information had absolutely no idea what we were talking about. The church was closed, though we eventually managed to find someone at tourist information with a key. Carolina is buried just a few metres away in the Reformed Peterskirche. However, the Peterskirche was not open and not even tourist information could help us there. Their only advice was that we should have booked a city tour in advance, despite the fact that they couldn’t tell us if the Peterskirche was included in the tour. It was very disappointing to stand so close to Carolina’s grave and not being able to go inside.
The city of Kirchheimbolanden is not very interesting to visit, especially since everything appears to be closed to tourists. The city museum is only open for three hours in the afternoon and had the only few traces of Carolina that I could find. Hidden in a corner, there was a large cutout of a painting with her family and some of her personal items, including a piece of cloth taken from her coffin during renovations. I must say that the staff at the city museum were most helpful and that the staff at the tourist information also tried to help but some more work needs to be done if they want more tourists. It has the potential.
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