We look forward to welcoming you to the New Museum Schloss Sayn and the Butterfly Garden. You may visit both locations with a single ticket. With the help of the „DigiWalk“ App we offer guests a free guided tour of the new Museum in four languages - German, English, French and Italian - optionally with audios, images, videos and texts.
Author: Neues Museum Schloss Sayn
Welcome to a virtual tour through the Neues Museum Schloss Sayn.
We offer guests a free guided tour in four languages: German, English, French and Italian. The text is spoken by Stephanie Paatsch from 2friendly (German), our sons-in-law Archie Akhavan-Kharazian (English) and Count Stefano Hunyady (French) as well as our daughter-in-law Princess Priscilla (Italian). In addition, you hear inserts spoken by us and by our daughters, the Princesses Alexandra and Sofia, and by our grandchildren Prince Ludovico and Countess Elisabetta Hunyady.
Download the DigiWalk app to scan the QR codes throughout the exhibition, and receive audios, images, videos and texts that you can read.
We look forward to welcoming you and wish you an unforgettable stay.
Alexander and Gabriela Sayn-Wittgenstein
Right at the beginning, Princess Marianne welcomes you looking down from a large photo. The 103-year-old lady is the mother of the present owner of this palace, Prince Alexander, married to Princess Gabriela.
Passing the cloakroom, you will spot Emperor Wilhelm's quote when he proclaimed after visiting Sayn Palace: “It truly is a fairy-tale castle”. Further on, you will find portraits of our two "Grandes Dames", the main actors of this exhibition: Princess Leonilla and Princess Marianne. “My great-great-grandmother Leonilla lived almost 102 years, from 1816 to 1918. My mother's life began immediately afterwards. Born in 1919 and still quite active, she too should soon have reached Leonilla's biblical age.”
In this exhibition, the two princesses will tell you the story of their lives lived in the past two centuries - from victorious battles over Napoleon in Russia that gave their family immense wealth and prestige, to social upheaval that forced their return to the ancestral home in Sayn. And also from their experiences in both world wars causing destruction, privation and reconstruction to a very active social life to the present day.
Here you will encounter our 1000-year-old family history. Our story begins with the first known ancestor in male line, Count Stephan of Sponheim. It explains which members of the princely family made their mark on history until today.
Among our more famous ancestors are Heinrich the Great of Sayn, Chamberlain Ludwig the Elder with his 23 children and Field Marshal Peter. But you will also encounter important princesses, such as the immensely wealthy Stephanie, the beautiful Leonilla and the much-celebrated Marianne.
A family portrait from summer 2019 awaits you towards the end of this passageway, taken at the wedding of Prince Casimir and Princess Alana. There you find Prince Alexander and Princess Gabriela surrounded by six of their seven children, their spouses and nine grandchildren. In the meantime, Alana's first child, Salentin, was born, making it a tenth grandchild – and hopefully there will soon be more! At such family celebrations, everyone misses Princess Filippa, who passed away much too early in an accident in 2001. A foundation was set up to commemorate her.
3: Show case with decorations and Filippa's Angel
Finally, a small showcase displays decorations and medals, awarded to both Princess Marianne and today’s princely couple Alexander and Gabriela for social and cultural work on a national and European level.
Princess Gabriela explains one endeavour close to her heart: “Filippa’s Angel Foundation, a charity was set up by our family to commemorate our daughter Filippa who passed away in a car accident in 2001. A few months after her death, we found her diaries and, after careful consideration, we published excerpts from them. The book "Filippa's Angel" became a bestseller, and the foundation was established from the profits. It honours young people who are extraordinarily involved in social, ecological and cultural areas, mostly on a voluntary basis.”
4: The historic staircase
You now are in the large stucco staircase, which, after the recent reconstruction, was decorated in a modern fashion, restored partially with stucco elements from the former ancestral gallery. The pictures on the information to your right give you a good impression of the former splendour.
To the left of the staircase, another portrait shows Princess Marianne, drawn by Birgit Knaus, sister-in-law of the racing driver Niki Lauda.
Today the staircase is dominated by a huge ancestral portrait of the war hero Peter - but more about this later when you reach the upper floor.
5: Building history of the palace
Along the wall on your left, five panels explain the 600-year-old building history of the palace, from its beginnings as a medieval manor house to the neo-Gothic redesign under the princely couple Louis (Ludwig) and Leonilla, employing Alphonse Girard, the Parisian chief architect of the Louvre, and from its destruction in World War II to its reconstruction by Prince Alexander and Princess Gabriela Sayn-Wittgenstein 25 years ago.
It is also interesting to see the considerable size of Sayn Castle above, destroyed by the Swedes in the Thirty Years' War. It was partially restored by the princely couple in the 1980s and made available to tourism.
The 103-years old Princess Marianne is a great photographer. Since her early youth, she has been known to always have a camera in her hand. She takes photos impulsively, nothing and nobody is staged. She pulls the trigger whenever she feels like it, and always at the right moment, as her friend Gunter Sachs once said - about 300,000 times in the past nine decades.
These black and white pictures of her time in Sayn, the 20 years she lived here with her husband Ludwig from 1942 to 1962, are particularly outstanding.
Princess Marianne’s portraits of people who worked with her on the reconstruction have been compared to August Sanders' photographic art. She has always been an amateur photographer, albeit with a lot of talent and an eye for a good picture.
7: Destruction and reconstruction
On the wall next to the window, you can see pictures of the accidental destruction of this palace by German units who were in great haste to blow up a nearby bridge before the end of the war. They show the situation in 1946, when Prince Ludwig returned from captivity and, together with his wife, decided to make a fresh start here.
Her eldest son, Prince Alexander, had his favourite picture made very large: the potato harvest. “We lived on a small farm and everyone had to help. My father “Udi” kneels on the left with a basket full of potatoes, my eldest sister Wonni is sitting on the plough horse, my other sister Li in the arms of the home-expelled uncle “Oschatz” - and I'm right in the middle of it all, between domestic staff and harvest helpers. A wonderful time!”
8: Social life
The princely couple was happy about the gradual revival of their social life: in Bonn with diplomatic friends, in the Rheingau, and increasingly also in their new villa in Sayn. They celebrated having survived the war, being able to leave all their worries behind and finally being able to meet relatives and friends from all over the world again.
Sports, hunting and partying played a big role again - but more on that later.
“We children went to boarding schools, as was traditional in our family at that time. All the greater was the joy of skiing or hiking in the mountains together with our parents during the holidays.
All that changed dramatically when a skidding truck trailer fatally hit my father on his way to the post office here in Sayn in January 1962. Still, life had to somehow continue for my mother and us 5 children.”
9: The hostess
After the death of her husband, Princess Marianne returned to her Austrian homeland, to Fuschl am See, where she and her husband had built a hunting lodge a few years prior to his death. Furnished with old rustic furniture, cosy tiled stoves and plenty of rooms, it became her new residence and for her children a beloved holiday home.
World-renowned artists, sports figures, and politicians attended luncheons, teas, and dinners hosted by Princess Marianne. Her house became a popular meeting place during the Salzburg Festival, where every Sunday "Manni" would host her legendary luncheons, often for 80 or 100 guests.
“She would offer her legendary game goulash and plum tart,” observed daughter-in-law Princess Gabriela, “cover the beer tables in colourful linen and decorate them with seasonal meadow flowers. Weather permitting, guests would sit in the garden in front of the barn. Everything was home-made and low cost, which was her trademark and inspired the high society, who were otherwise accustomed to luxury.”
10: The painted wooden cupboard
Princess Gabriela has wonderfully modelled the old farmer’s cupboard in the middle of the room from the original in her mother-in-law's drawing room in Fuschl.
“It reflects her life, her role as head of a large family as well as her joy in life, in interesting people and travelling around the world.
The left side is reserved for her large offspring. Here you can find photos of weddings of children and grandchildren alongside pictures of the little great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. In between there are also memories of meeting Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali and Jacky Stewart.
On the right, we see her parents and their nine children together with all sorts of celebrities who she entertained in Fuschl or visited on trips around the world. You meet Siegfried and Roy and Prince Charles, or Gunter Sachs, Curd Jürgens and the Holy Father. My mother-in-law had also taken her neighbouring farmers to her heart and immortalised them in her photographs.
At the bottom of the cupboard are her works, famous photo books, from “Mamarazza” to “Stars and Sportscars”, and from “SaynerZeit” to “ManniFeste”.”
11: ’Mamarazza’, the renowned photographer
"Mamarazza", as she was nicknamed by Caroline of Monaco, photographed everyone, her friends and guests, even in the evening after the Salzburg opera festival, when parties continued in Klessheim and Leopoldskron castle or the Hotel “Goldener Hirsch”.
Just a few days later, the pictures were already developed and placed in her large red photo albums, dated and labelled. She kept the negatives, to this day a few hundred thousand, just as orderly and neatly in card index boxes.
For a while, Princess Marianne earned her living with photography. She accompanied her friend Foreign Secretary Hans-Dietrich Genscher on political trips, shot cover pictures of Lilli Palmer for the German magazine "Bunte" in Bora Bora or visited Yves Saint Laurent for "Ambiente" magazine in Morocco.
She finally was persuaded by gallerist Beate Wedekind to have her first solo exhibition in Berlin. Many exhibitions followed, in Salzburg, Vienna, Zurich, Munich, London and New York. Steidl printed the photo book "Mamarazza" in the style of her red photo albums, teNeues published the "Sayn-Wittgenstein Collection" with Andy Warhol and Ira Fürstenberg on the cover, and Polzer printed "SaynerZeit" and "ManniFeste". “Stars & Sportscars”, by Delius Klasing, was even Motorsports Book of the Year.
On 9 December 2019, her 100th birthday, the still highly elegant princess was celebrated for her many achievements: Grande Dame of the Salzburg Festival, Mamarazza of photography, and of course as the matriarch of a large family, being a mother of 5, grandmother of 20, great-grandmother of 32 and great-great-grandmother of 4.
12: Once to be a prince or princess (alternating exhibitions)
Note: This room will also be used for special exhibitions! Info under https://www.sayn.de/aktuelles
Now we come to the "children's realm", designed by the agency 2friendly, Stephanie Paatsch and Heike Kamp, who have delighted visitors to the palace for years with their themed tours, plays and a magical children's book.
Let us let the two explain their concept for themselves: “In the children’s realm, we deliberately avoid modern media. Our motto is "Imagination is our hobbyhorse". And so, the young and old guests can slip into the magical costumes of the fashion designer Natascha Klein, which they find at the museum shop. When finely decorated with crowns, capes and chic uniforms, the souvenir photo on the “throne” is a very special experience.
You can also experience a lot with our cheerful poodle Disco. Nobody can talk him out of the fact that, despite his puffy mane, he is not the real Lion of Sayn. He sits enthroned in his little velvet basket and waits to lead the visitors through the palace rooms with his funny stories. He is accompanied by his best friend "Sugar", the little Jack Russel terrier of Prince Alexander.”
13: Children's portraits (alternating exhibitions)
Note: This room will also be used for special exhibitions! Info under www.sayn.de/aktuelles
“The portraits of the children are all taken by my mother. Wonderful snapshots of my brother Peter in the pigsty, my sister Teresa at the make-up table, as well as both, brother and sister, under the sun lamp.
The portraits of our seven children are also by her. She developed these herself in her darkroom in Fuschl and of course proudly showed them to her friends, who commissioned her for taking photographs of their families instead. These jobs allowed my mother to travel the world.
Please do not look at my school report, which is also displayed here. Just too embarrassing!”
Our little prince and princesses will now be escorted to the top floor by our “little lion” Disco and Childe Prince Peter dressed in a green blouse.
14: Prince Peter in Paris
Now we are in the foyer looking at Prince Peter zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, the "richest bachelor in Europe", dressed in white uniform as a Russian military attaché in Paris. He had inherited about 1.2 million hectares of land from his mother, Princess Stephanie Radziwill, richly endowed with towns and villages, palaces and castles. In Paris, Peter fell in love with the actress Rosalie Léon, a liaison out of keeping with his rank and title. They built two castles in Brittany and died childless. The rest of his fortune went to his sister Marie.
Now let us head upstairs - by stairs or elevator - to Peter's grandfather, the famous field marshal.
15: The staircase today
The first thing you see is the marble bust of Field Marshal Peter Sayn-Wittgenstein by Samuel Halberg. At some point, it fell from the pedestal and lost the tip of its nose.
The filigree neo-Gothic stucco that characterises the large staircase was exposed to wind and rain after the destruction of the palace during WW II and was severely damaged. It was masterfully restored on this floor, while the fragments above and below are reminiscent of the damage that was found when reconstruction began in 1995. Originally, this room with its double cast-iron staircase was an ancestral gallery with large-format paintings of the Sayn family ancestors and fire-gilded wall lamps.
We head past the bust of the Marshal’s wife Antonia, carved in marble by the famous Christian Daniel Rauch, towards the chapel wing.
16: A mighty portrait of a field marshal
A modern footbridge enables visitors with walking difficulties to reach the rear part of the building barrier-free, but at the same time forms a perfect grandstand for the view of the largest and most important family portrait in this palace.
Painted by Franz Krüger, the Russian field marshal is portrayed here as a celebrated hero. And rightly so: he was known as the saviour of Saint Petersburg and was the commander-in-chief of the Russian and Prussian Allied armies for a period in 1813. Ludwig Adolf Peter Count of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in Ludwigsburg and Carlsburg, his full name, quickly made a career in the Russian army and gained great fame in the wars of liberation against Napoleon. The Prussian King elevated him to the rank of prince out of gratitude for the liberation of Prussia. Tsar Nicholas appointed him field marshal.
17: Ossip the hero
The field marshal would never have achieved fame and honour, had it not been for brave Ossip, the dwarf servant of the family.
Count Christian Ludwig, Peter’s father, was fighting in the Caucasus when, on a winter’s night in 1771, his house near Moscow burnt down shortly after his wife Amalia Ludovika gave birth to a daughter.
Ossip rescued little Peter from the flames, as well as his newborn sister, Amelie. Their mother, however, died in the fire.
Depicted in the painting above is Princess Charlotte of Lieven, the wife of the Provincial Governor, who took the children into her care and later ensured that Peter was admitted to the Page Corps in Saint Petersburg. Amelie later married Count Keller, with whom she had many descendants, including Princess Leonilla. You shall hear more from her in a moment.
18: The new conservatory
Before the reconstruction, a narrow backyard here was supposed to keep the humidity of the adjacent castle hill away from the palace building. During the reconstruction 25 years ago, the architects Bingenheimer, Hädler & Schmilinsky from Darmstadt had the open space covered with a glass roof. By pulling in a ceiling, they created a passageway to the palace chapel, ideally suited for placing large, non-winterproof plants.
Conservatories have a long tradition in the Sayn family. Carl Ludwig Althans designed a „palm garden“ here in Sayn, the 1830 architect of the uniquely beautiful cast-iron foundry in Sayn.
Even more important was Karl Friedrich Schinkel's winter garden for our Werki Palace in Lithuania. The great Prussian architect was originally supposed to reconstruct the dilapidated middle building of the extensive three-winged complex for Prince Louis. Instead, he proposed to demolish it in order to open up a view into the park. Finally, he added a large conservatory to the left residential wing, which was directly connected to the princess' studio.
19: A powerful steam engine for the park’s fountains
Another technical masterpiece is a large iron pipe that mysteriously protrudes from the old quarry stonewall. Alphonse F. J. Girard, the architect of the 1848-50 reconstruction, had the rainwater from the roofs of the palace drained into a cistern. A powerful steam engine pumped the water from there into an underground basin on the castle hill. The park's fountains, including a large fountain in the pond, could thus spurt water into the air without the need of further pumps.
Two portraits on the right show Field Marshal Peter zu Sayn-Wittgenstein and his wife, Antonia, painted by Carl Begas.
20: A landscape garden was designed
Already during the Baroque period, there was a building in the palace grounds that served as an orangery and aviary, next to a formal garden, surrounded by a wall. The Butterfly Garden continues this tradition today. When the Saint Petersburg garden architect Karl-Friedrich Thelemann redesigned the park into an English landscape garden, non-winterproof plants were stored in the pineapple conservatory in the neighbouring palace nursery.
21: From trees to family trees
Before leaving this area, you will find a large family tree. It shows how the family has branched out over almost 1000 years, from Count Stephan I. of Sponheim to the year 2000.
You can see the influx of the Counts of Sayn and of Wittgenstein as well as the branching out into the three family lines: Berleburg, Hohenstein and Sayn. In addition, you will find further family trees of the Sayn family, which point to the relationship with ruling houses from different European countries.
Finally, a board provides answers to frequently asked questions about nobility today. There, today's prince also provides the answer as to how he would like to be addressed. "Instead of 'Dear Mr. Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn', I prefer, quite simply, 'Dear Prince Alexander'!”
22: The Russian field marshal Peter
You now enter a newly created room: the Ancestral Gallery. Here we would like to introduce the three most important personalities of the princely family of the 19th century in a little more detail.
You will already have met them during this tour: Field Marshal Peter, his eldest son Prince Louis, and Princess Leonilla, painted by Franz X. Winterhalter. The portraits, all in the family’s possession, are reproduced on acrylic.
Count Peter's career in the Russian military was steep, reaching the peak of his fame in the war against Napoleon1812-14. With his independently acting corps, he succeeded in keeping the French away from Saint Petersburg.
For a short time after Marshal Kutuzov's death, General Peter was even appointed commander-in-chief of the united Russian and Prussian troops.
23: The Kamenka winery
Opposite the Field Marshal’s portrait, you can see pictures of his Kamenka Winery in Transnistria, a breakaway state of Moldova. Count Peter had acquired the 6,000-ha property with endowments, received as part of his merits as a successful general.
In order to cultivate and manage the land, he invited hundreds of colonists from the Rhine and Moselle to Kamenka and built houses and a church for them. The wine was stored in cellars with a total length of 120 km and soon was ranked among the best in the Russian Empire.
24: The Prince’s Diploma
In a display case, we show the Prince's Diploma of 1834, the elevation of Count Peter to the rank of prince by the Prussian King Frederick William III, as a sign of gratitude for liberating Prussia from the yoke of Napoleon.
This allowed him, as well as his descendants, to bear the title of "Serene Highness".
Tsar Nicholas I declared his appreciation to "the saviour of Saint Petersburg" by appointing him field marshal in 1826.
25: Louis and Stefanie
Louis, the eldest son of the field marshal, married Princess Stephanie Radziwill in 1828, heiress of the "Radziwill Fortune", through the mediation of the Tsar.
Around 100,000 serfs lived on her numerous estates in former Poland. Louis, who was very much involved in a liberal secret society leading to the "Decembrists" uprising, strove with Stephanie for social reforms, emancipation of serfs and school education.
Stephanie died after only 4 years of marriage. Two small children, Peter and Marie, survived her.
You see Marie as an elderly lady towards the end of the gallery. She later married the German Chancellor Prince Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst. Her daughter Stephanie, wife of Count Arthur of Schönborn-Wiesentheid, is the great-grandmother of today's Princess Gabriela from Sayn.
26: Louis marries Leonilla
Only two years after Stephanie‘s death, Louis married a second time, again through the mediation of the Tsar. His new wife was the beautiful Princess Leonilla Bariatinsky, just 18 years old and a former maid of honour of the Tsarina. She was known for both her beauty and her wisdom.
The princely couple travelled all over Europe, met artists, had their portraits taken and acquired an important collection of mainly contemporary art. However, their relationship with the autocratic Tsar Nicholas I deteriorated noticeably due to Louis‘s liberal attitude. It was time to return to Germany.
27: From Russia to Sayn
In Germany, Louis endeavoured to acquire a large property corresponding to his wealth. Finally, he succeeded in settling in Sayn, where the family had its origin and lived until the Sayn line died out in 1604.
Count Clemens Boos of Waldeck, the district administrator of Koblenz, was prepared to sell his manor, the former manor houses of Reifenberg and Stein, whereas King Friedrich Wilhelm IV decided to hand back the ruins of the ancestral castle, situated just above Count Clemens’ manor, as a present to the returnees.
The Parisian Louvre architect Alphonse F. J. Girard was commissioned to convert the old manor house into a modern princely residence.
The intensive use of cast iron for stairs, fountains and, quite uniquely, also window jambs provided the cast iron foundry in Sayn with plenty of work and countless families a good income over the years, which was a boon to the locals as unemployment was rife in the revolutionary years 1848/49.
Princess Leonilla, with the help of the Dernbach sisters, founded the Leonilla Foundation next to the palace as a place of care for children, the sick and elderly.
28: The table culture of the 19th century
You have reached the Blue Hall, the largest room of this museum. This room is all about table culture in the 19th century and shows the various crockery and cutlery that was used depending on the occasion. Some of it is still used today for family weddings.
A head butler in livery guards a wall with dishes, displaying a most beautiful service, the “golden Feuillet" plates from Paris, which have been used for festive meals with up to 100 people until this day. The buffet below exhibits various other dishes, including blue Wedgewood ceramics. These are beautiful but unfortunately too fragile for everyday use.
Next to it, you will find part of the library, including a full series of the so-called “Gotha”, a genealogical directory for Europe’s royalty and higher nobility from 1763 to today.
On the long table, pictures printed on acrylic plates show how a table was set. Depending on the occasion, the table setting could be a little more or a little less elaborate.
Ask our guides to recount some old family recipes, or to demonstrate what you need to pay attention to to lay the table perfectly and accurately. On special occasions, the princely family still sets the table this way today.
A “children’s table” is set by Alana and Casimir for their poodle Disco.
29: Silverware and crystal glass
The silver display case shows cutlery and plates by Storr & Mortimer from around 1835 as well as vermeil dessert cutlery by Mortimer & Hunt, produced only a few years later.
The great London silversmiths maintained sales outlets at the important European courts at the time, including Saint Petersburg. Like the tableware, the silverware was made to order and was decorated with the coat of arms, the Sayn lion or the initials of Prince Louis.
Valuable blown glasses and carafes from the 18th and 19th century are displayed in the other showcase. The different initials and crown engravings on the glasses help distinguish which ancestors the pieces initially belonged to.
On the two tiers below, you will find two almost 200-year-old cruets made of crystal glass and the equally impressive travel toiletry set in a mahogany box, used by Princess Leonilla.
30: Leonilla’s beauty case
The mahogany chest in the bottom compartment is something particularly fascinating. It contains Princess Leonilla's travel toiletry set. The box includes 32 individual items that were useful for taking care of a lady who travelled a lot.
Here you will find flacons for various essences, facial tonic and perfume, in which Leonilla's favourite scent is preserved to this day, jars for powder, pastes, creams or blush, soap dishes, scissors and sewing utensils, as well as a washbasin with a water jug, candle holders and more items of finest silver and crystal glass. All utensils are engraved with Leonilla's monogramme and packed into the chest very cleverly in the smallest possible space.
The London silversmith Nicholls & Plincke, who at that time ran the Magasin Anglais for the St. Petersburg high society, was responsible for this masterpiece.
31: The princesses’ wedding dresses
Visibly satisfied, Princess Marianne observes the scenery of the Blue Hall. She is pictured here in a photograph taken by the Munich portrait photographer Sahm.
Aside from the beautifully laid table, she can also view the wedding dress Princess Alana wore for her wedding to Prince Casimir on 1 June 2019 in Sayn.
The dress was designed by the Spanish couturier Jorge Acuña, as was the evening gown with which Alana impressed the 250 guests at the festive dinner in the historic cast iron foundry hall in Sayn.
Prince Alexander enthuses: “Another wedding dress that my sister Yvonne wore to her wedding with Count Alfons Coreth in 1962 impresses not only the festively clad butler with its long train adorned with numerous organza flowers."
Now the tour leads you to the next rooms, past two walls with crockery designed by the famous Emile Gallé from Nancy around 1870.
Perhaps these were designed for the wedding of Prince Louis’s youngest son Alexander with Yvonne de Blacas.
As faience, it is too delicate for frequent use, so it is now only used on very special occasions.
32: Saint Petersburg
It is back to Russia once again. In this room, you will encounter a large-format print of a ball scene in Saint Petersburg, painted by Adolf Ladurner. In the center it shows Prince Louis with his wife Stephanie (dressed in pink) talking to Tsar Nicholas I (from behind) and Tsarina Alexandra, on the far left Grand Duke Michael and on the right Field Marshal Peter (from behind).
“Unlike Nicholas, his brother and predecessor Tsar Alexander I was quite liberal and always well-disposed towards our family," says Prince Alexander.
Left and right of the display case on the right you find portraits of Louis' firs wife Stephanie, the heiress to the huge Radziwill fortune, and Leonilla, his second wife. Both portraits are recent copies of well-known paintings from Saint Petersburg.
33: About nurses, mothers and their children
Above the display cabinet, a painting by Pierre Legrand shows little Leonilla Bariatinskaya on the lap of her Russian nurse.
Perhaps the bonnet she is wearing in this painting is the same as the one still being used for baptisms in the princely family today and found in the display cabinet next to a christening robe.
The charming bracelet with three medallions unites Stephanie's children Peter and Marie with Leonilla's first child Friedrich.
On the next wall, you see the copy of a large family painting by Horace Vernet. It shows Leonilla riding out for a falcon hunt. Behind her is Prince Louis, in front her stepson Peter and on the far left his sister Marie. You find it on Leonilla's portrait to your right.
Rarely found on portraits of princely families, a governess is holding, Leonilla's eldest son, Friedrich, on her lap. A few years later, a watercolour by J. S. Otto shows, quite differently, Leonilla now herself holding her daughter Antoinette in her arms. She, as a widow, spent happy years with Antoinette, who later became Princess Chigi-Albani in Rome and at Ariccia Castle.
Leonilla's sons gave her less joy. Friedrich, inappropriately, married an actress and his brother Ludwig the actress’ sister. When Alexander married the governess of their children after his first wife Yvonne's early death, he too had to forego title and inheritance.
34: Yvonne und Alexander
Passing a cast of Leonilla's foot, her gift of love to Louis on their 2nd wedding anniversary, we come to their youngest son Alexander, the great-grandfather of the current prince, and his lovely wife Yvonne. However, their happiness should only last a short time. The daughter of the Duke of Blacas d‘Aulps from the romantic "Sleeping Beauty Castle" Ussé on the Loire River died at the age of just thirty.
"The painter Hugo Crola depicts my great-grandmother very well in the picture above the showcase," says Prince Alexander, "but my favourite piece is her marble bust by the sculptor Samuel Beer."
Yvonne left behind some herbaria in which she had pressed flowers and personal souvenirs from her travels with Alexander. In the showcase, you will find memories of the golden wedding of Kaiser Wilhelm I and Empress Augusta in the Berlin City Palace as well as an invitation from the French president MacMahon to the Elysée Palace.
Next to it are letters from Yvonne to her beloved mother, one is written in two directions at the same time to save paper during the Franco-German War. What a contrast to the glamorous invitations!
35: Alexander’s descendance
Alexander's second marriage was not befitting, he retired as Count of Hachenburg in 1883 to his castles in the Westerwald. A pastel by Lambert shows him at the age of almost 70. We wrote the “Saynsche Chronik” and a library full of local literature, left us a large collection of Saynian coins and hundreds of his caricatures from an eventful life. Alexander died at the age of 94 and found his final resting place in Marienstatt Abbey near Hachenburg, with his Pekingese dog Rila sculpted in stone on the grave slab.
His eldest son Stanislaus had to take over as the 5th Prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn when he was only 10 years old. He died childless in 1958 and was followed by his nephew Ludwig, son of Prince Gustav Alexander and Walburga Baroness of Friesen. "Sandy", as Gustav Alexander was called, was Leonilla's favourite grandson. She took care of him and promoted his training as a diplomat.
“My grandparents had three sons, of whom only my father Ludwig, called “Udi” survived the last war. When in 1962 he died only 46 years old in a tragic accident, me, as his eldest son, became head of the house of Sayn at the age of 18.”
36: Upstairs and downstairs
Let us go back to Louis and his family in Russia. On his huge estates, a large number of people were concerned with the welfare of Louis's family. The relationship between lordship and servants must have been a particularly cordial one. Well-known painters who made portraits of Louis and Stephanie, and after her death also of Leonilla, were simultaneously commissioned to depict the staff "downstairs". This resulted in a unique album with drawings and watercolours of all servants.
Most of the drawings are by Jan X. Kaniewski, who also created Louis's portrait in the Ancestral Gallery. Adolf Ladurner, the painter of the Petersburg ball scene we looked at earlier, painted an old footman and Jakob Suter depicted the nurse of the eldest son Peter. The album also shows the governesses and chambermaids, the dressmaker and cook, the courier, coachman, colonists, chamber servants, musicians and steward, and twice our dwarf Ossip.
You will notice one drawing of Ossip: It shows him in a stately pose, as befits the saviour of the “Saviour of Saint Petersburg”. In this drawing, he stands before you like a tsar! No wonder, because George Dawe drew it, the painter of the Russian Emperor Alexander, whose portrait posing in the same manner you will see in the foyer next to the stairwell.
37: The Prussian Royal Family on visit in Sayn
The Prussian King enjoyed spending the summer at Stolzenfels Castle near Koblenz, which was rebuilt from ruins by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Our gaze falls on a watercolour that shows the visit of the royal family on the terrace of Sayn Palace. A wide flight of steps led the guests from the palace gardens up to the terrace, which was enclosed by a cast-iron balustrade. Franz X. Becker, who worked in product design for the iron foundry in Sayn, was the one to capture this occasion: Sitting at the table under the awning, you can spot, besides the hosts Louis and Leonilla, their friend King Friedrich Wilhelm IV with Queen Elisabeth as well as his brother Prince Wilhelm, the later Kaiser, with his wife Augusta and the Princess Louise. Among the king's great entourage was also the later chancellor Otto von Bismarck.
38: Princess Margarete of Thurn and Taxis, a lady with many talents
Princess Margarete of Thurn and Taxis, Archduchess of Austria, was both close to nature as well as artistically talented. Princess Gabriela recounts: "Already as a teenager my great-grandmother Margarete is said to have shown great talent in painting. That is why her father, Archduke Joseph Carl of Austria, had her take painting lessons with Olga Wisinger-Florian. In 1903 Margit, as she signed her paintings, published the “Atlas of Medicinal Plants of the Prelate Kneipp” with 186 coloured plant panels. Princess Margarete continued to cultivate her passion for painting into her old age despite her regular assignments as a surgical nurse in the Regensburg children's hospital.
I remember that as a small child I was allowed to go to her studio and was amazed at what she had collected for study purposes. I was particularly fascinated by the skeleton of a horse standing in the middle of the room.”
Matching the natural history collections of earlier times is the contemporary art installation of glasses with turquoise blue lacquer caps, in which the artist Anja Schindler, a close friend of the family, preserves all kinds of objects she discovered in nature.
39: The Palace gardens, cultural heritage and ecological habitat
Princess Gabriela recounts: “The wall opposite explains the various fauna and flora that can be found in the 10 ha park, which encompasses a landscape filled with ruins leading up to the medieval castle, as well as the English garden on the plain. Returning from Russia, the princely couple employed two experts in their field, Karl-Friedrich Thelemann as the garden planner and Heinrich Siesmayer for the execution. Together they formed from fields and vineyards a romantic garden landscape, with the neo-Gothic palace as the central element.
Above, a jay and a squirrel as well as a capercaillie trophy from 1890 tell of the richness of our native nature then and now.“
40: A butterfly research station
Now to our small research station, which not only our young visitors shall enjoy. Why not test your sense of smell on a number of smelling bottles on display here?
The sense of smell is of particular importance in nature. For instance, it helps our butterflies to find a partner. You can also admire butterflies on display through our magnifying glasses. The tiny scales on their wings or the filigree limbs will delight you, we are sure.
In addition, you will discover under glass bells fascinating aspects from the world of our native butterflies, such as the annual migration of tens of thousands of “Painted Ladies” in springtime from Africa across the northern hemisphere to us and further into the far north, and their return later in autumn.
41: The Butterfly Princess
To give you a feel for palace gardens, please take a rest on the cast-iron garden furniture, which was designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and manufactured in the renowned Sayn iron foundry.
“The oil painting above by the Düsseldorf artist Stephan Kaluza shows my wife, Princess Gabriela, with our 7th child, Christian Peter. Watercolours of native butterflies and various contemporary depictions of tropical species by different artists happily surround the founder of the Sayn Butterfly Garden.
The glass case between the windows holds a bizarre sculpture of our family by Klemens Pompetzki called "Return from the hunt".
To the left of the door leading into the next room you find a photo portrait of my wife with our eldest son Heinrich taken by Slim Aarons for Town & Country. On the right, there are two documents that show Prince Louis's attachment to agriculture and his interest in the animal world at the Cologne Zoo.”
42: Car racing, a fascination for Princess Marianne and her family
“As we already have dedicated a room on the lower ground to children, this room will hopefully make men feel particularly welcome. But not only men“, Prince Alexander is convinced; “all guests who are keen on sports should have fun here.
My mother’s photographs again take centre stage, and you will immediately realise just how much of a sports enthusiast she was.
While seated on the grandstand, enjoy films about car racing or my mother's life.”
The focus of her interest was, and still is today, automotive racing. Together with her husband, she never missed a race at the nearby Nürburgring, which was a very popular attraction after the war. The grandstands were overcrowded with racing aficionados. Everyone got a kick out of the deafening noise as well as the smell of ether that was released from the huge exhaust pipes and quickly filled the air. After the war, the new heroes were the daring and brave racecar drivers.
“Udi” and “Manni” were always in the thick of it. They personally knew all the "gentlemen drivers", who dominated the sport at that time and so they were allowed to stand at the pits during the races, providing co-pilots waiting for their turn with refreshments and keeping them company. In the evenings after the races, they often celebrated together at their home in Sayn.
43: The fascination is contagious
Prince Alexander recounts: “Luckily, we children were often allowed to join the races. On the left side of a photograph next to the display case, you can see me admiring Jean Behra and his Porsche racing sports car.
Occasionally, after the races, the drivers took us children with them in their cars on the way back home. There was no speed limit at the time, and the hairpin bends at Virneburg were tough!
That made me want to try racing for myself. At my very first try, I proudly finished third in my Porsche 911 at a hill climb in Sayn and was celebrated as a local hero. It was the day of our engagement, and I had to promise my father-in-law that I would never race again. However, much later my wife kindly gave me the permission to drive one last race: the Alfa Celebrity Cup in front of a large audience in Hockenheim.
The only races I have been allowed to participate in since have been the soapbox races at our local annual Castle and Park Festival in the palace gardens. Those, too, I must admit, are quite exciting!
You and your children are welcome to take a souvenir photo in the red speedster!”
44: Cups, drinking vessels and fine wines
In this display case, you will find the trophy for the hill climb as well as the engagement photo.
The drinks and drinking vessels exhibited are also very much part of a gentleman’s life. At the top, you will find a cognac aged for 50 years and made from wines from the family’s former winery in Kamenka.
It is named after Field Marshal Peter, the hero of 1812. 1812 bottles were filled and sold for $1,812 each. They are all numbered: Vladimir Putin received bottle No.1, and bottle No.2 went to Prince Alexander. Below, a schnapps made from tropical fruits of the Royal Gardens in Thailand, is made by a nephew of Prince Alexander, Maximilian Graf Coreth.
In the other display cabinet, you will see that the Sayn princely family still produces outstanding wines today. On the bottom shelf, you can spot a case of Sassicaia, probably the most famous red wine in Italy, from the family vineyard of our daughter-in-law Princess Priscilla and our son-in-law Stefano Count Hunyady. You also find Stefano’s wines from Hungary and his craft beer brewed in Tuscany. Next to it you will see some delicious Riesling wines produced by the Counts of Schönborn, Princess Gabriela‘s family, from their Rheingau and Frankonia vineyards.
45: Smoking, drinking and gentlemen’s sports in pictures by Princess Marianne
“In addition to a good drop, also the cigar is attributed to men, although this was much more the case in my father’s days than it is today. You can see him in the picture above, smoking a good Havana with his father-in-law, his brother-in-law and the Crown Prince of Egypt.
Also cigarettes were much more part of everyday life, such as the cigarette in the mouth of the Spanish Crown Prince Juan Carlos while he placed a candlestick on the roof of Prince Metternich's car in Sayn.”
The last series of pictures in this room show once again how great and varied “Mamarazza’s” interest in sports was. In addition to the racing drivers Michael Schumacher, Niki Lauda and Jochen Maas, depicted here in Monte Carlo with David Niven, you can also see the golfer Jack Nicklaus and the young tennis hero Boris Becker, framed by his coach Ion Tiriac and Princess Gloria of Thurn and Taxis.
46: Paintings shown at the upper foyer
Before we proceed to the chapel, let us take a quick look at the paintings in the upper foyer. On the wall above the elevator on the right and left, we see the parents of Field Marshal Peter, Count Christian Ludwig, who moved to Russia, and Countess Amalie Ludovika, née Countess Finck von Finckenstein. She died in the fire after the birth of her daughter Amelie.
Between her parents you find the portrait of Amelie saved by Ossip. She married Count Dorothéus Ludwig von Keller, a Prussian minister and diplomat. Her daughter Marie Wilhelmine as the wife of Prince Ivan Ivanovich Bariatinsky eventually became Leonilla's mother.
The portrait next to the window depicting Tsar Alexander I was painted by George Dawe. It can be found almost identically in the Saint Petersburg Hermitage and other palaces in Russia, because Dawe was the court painter to the imperial family. Incidentally, the picture of Princess Lieven in the winter garden was also made by him, as was the drawing of the dwarf Ossip mentioned earlier.
“Our family has, including me, existed for 25 generations now”, recounts Prince Alexander. “160 years ago, the painter Josef Miller tried to present my ancestors as realistically as possible for the ancestral gallery in the stairwell. The paintings unfortunately had to be sold again 60 years later. Luckily, my son Prince Heinrich was able to buy back two portraits, the 13th century Counts Johann of Sponheim and Engelbert of Sayn.”
Now you may proceed via the passageway and winter garden towards the chapel.
47: Count Heinrich the Great of Sayn and the relationship to Saint Elizabeth
At the entrance to the palace chapel, we would like to introduce Count Heinrich III of Sayn to you. He was called Henry the Great, not only because of his gigantic figure of more than 210 cm in height, but because he was one of the most powerful rulers of the Rhineland in the 13th century. Through his marriage to Countess Mechthild of Meissen-Landsberg, the Count and Countess of Sayn were among the closest relatives of Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia. When Elizabeth was widowed and decided to live in poverty, her daughter Sophie came to Sayn. Indeed, the later Duchess of Brabant called Heinrich "lebe Vader myn" (“my dear father”), as passed down in a lamentation of his death.
With Heinrich's death in 1246, the older Counts of Sayn died out. Title, name and dominion went to the descendants of Heinrich's sister Adelheid, who was married to Count Gottfried of Sponheim. Today, all members of the house of Sayn-Wittgenstein are in the male line descendants of the Counts of Sponheim.
48: The Miracle of the Roses
You are now in the vestibule of the chapel, facing a painting of Saint Elizabeth after Franz Ittenbach. It depicts the miracle of the roses, how bread turned into roses when the saint secretly wanted to bring bread from the Wartburg castle to the poor.
The three-part stained glass window next to it, created by Joseph Settegast, with the initials "LW" and the alliance coat of arms "Bariatinsky and Sayn-Wittgenstein" refers to the chapel's donor couple, Princess Leonilla and Prince Louis.
The view opens up to the polychrome designed, neo-Gothic church room with a deep blue starry sky. The double chapel, created in 1861 by the Koblenz architect Hermann Nebel, is a faint replica of the Sainte Chapelle in Paris.
49: Palace chapel and the reliquary of Saint Elizabeth
The stained glass windows in the choir, designed by Moritz von Schwind, show the Russian Saint Leonilla and Saint King Louis of France. The windows had been destroyed during the war, except for the upper medallion depicting the Madonna with Child. During the restoration, the remaining windows were reproduced according to the existing designs of the great Pre-Raphaelite painter.
The Madonna in white marble on the right hand side bears a golden wreath of stars with the initials of the children and grandchildren of the princely family. On the tapestry behind her, the Sayn lion alternates with the Russian eagle and the archangel Michael from the coat of arms of the Princes Bariatinsky.
The cast-iron choir screen, which was produced in the Sayn foundry, incorporates the founders’ initials. The mensa of the “Golden Altar” shows enamel rosettes with saints from the princely families: to the left Vladimir from Leonilla’s, and to the right Jutta of Sponheim from Louis's early ancestry.
You will find the reason for the construction of this charming church in the central display case in the mensa: the arm reliquary of Saint Elizabeth, a masterpiece of 13th century Rhenish goldsmithing.
When purchasing the Sayn palace in 1848, Princess Leonilla mentioned to the seller, Count Clemens Boos von Waldeck, that she was a direct descendant of the saint. Count Clemens happened to be in the possession of this precious arm relic, which was kept in the Altenberg/Lahn monastery, where Elizabeth's daughter Gertrud had taken it, until secularisation. Count Clemens generously decided to give this arm relic to the Princess.
50: Down to the crypt and goodbye
Before you end the tour, you go downstairs and pass the crypt, housed below the chapel.
On the way to the family burial place, you can find a collection of 27 lithographs of famous Renaissance paintings commissioned by Prince Louis in the 1830s.
At the crypt entry, a Madonna sculpture by the ceramicist Heinz-Theo Degen protects the children of Prince Ludwig and Princess Marianne, Yvonne, Alexander, Elizabeth, Teresa and Peter, with her coat.
Of particular importance inside the crypt is a medieval sandstone relief on the sarcophagus of Princess Leonilla, which depicts the burial of Mary. The two other sarcophagi belong to Leonilla’s husband Louis and her daughter-in-law Princess Yvonne.
At the end, you hear Prince Alexander again:
“My wife and I sincerely hope that you enjoyed this tour of our New Museum and that it has aroused your interest to come visit us more often.
Do combine your stay not only with a visit to the Butterfly House in the palace gardens but also to the many other sights of the Cultural Park of Sayn.
Our Sayn is always worth a visit!”