The Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen (Bavarian Department of State-owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes), also known as the Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung (Bavarian Palace Department), is one of the oldest administrative departments in the Free State of Bavaria with a long-standing tradition. Created as part of the court administration of electors and kings, it is today the largest public authority for museums in Germany. It is also responsible for a very special historical heritage: the variety of magnificent court gardens, palace parks, gardens and lakes. The unique ensembles of European architecture with their sumptuous artistic interiors attract over five million visitors each year from all over the world.
The origins of the Schlösserverwaltung date back to the stewarding division, one of the four divisions of administrative staff at the electoral court - at the end of the eigthteenth century, it was already responsible for maintaining the residences and palaces in Bavaria.
In the Kingdom of Bavaria, the palaces and residences were declared an inalienable part of the Bavarian heritage and were included in the so-called "civil list", which means they formed part of the private funds of the king. Starting with 1908, the stewarding department also became responsible for the large Bavarian lakes and fisheries as well as the court gardens.
After the end of the monarchy in Bavaria on 8 November 1918, the former items on the civil list were declared state property. In 1923, however, following a proprietary dispute with the former dynasty, quite a few of the possessions came under the administration of the Wittelsbach Equalizing Fund, which was constituted to settle this dispute. Since 1932 the department has been officially known as the "Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen".
Today, the Schlösserverwaltung has a staff of around 850 people, including specialists for the restoration of valuable interiors, art historians for the professional support of museums, construction experts for supervising the reconstruction, restoration and extension of buildings in accordance with the principles of monument protection, and a garden department which is not just responsible for maintaining and preserving the gardens, but also for researching their history. The central department is responsible for personnel and budgetary matters, administrating the properties with their numerous leased restaurants and function rooms as well as the lakes, and it is in charge of all the Palace Department’s public relations.
Due to its origins, the Schlösserverwaltung administrates the palaces and residences of the civil list which remained in state possession after settling the dispute with the former royal family. In addition, it has gradually taken over quite a number of other properties, so that it currently has branches in six out of the seven Bavarian regions, administrating 45 palaces, castles and residences, 27 historic gardens and 21 lakes. Next to Ludwig II’s famous three palaces Neuschwanstein, Linderhof and Herrenchiemsee, other highlights like the Kaiserburg in Nürnberg (Imperial Castle of Nuremberg), the Münchner and the Würzburger Residenz (Munich and Würzburg Residences) and the Schloss Nymphenburg (Nymphenburg Palace) with its park complex are also world-famous tourist attractions of which the Schlösserverwaltung is in charge. The Residenz Würzburg and the Markgräfliches Opernhaus (Margravian Opera House) in the town of Bayreuth form part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.