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    The Main Complex

     

    The Wedding Tower and the main exhibition hall as it looks today. Designed by Olbrich and begun in 1905 and finished in 1908 the tower and Municipal Exhibition Building were the most monumental of the Mathildenhöhe's permanent structures. The Wedding Tower was a symbolic gift to the Duke and his bride from the city of Darmstadt.
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    Main Exhibition Hall

     

    The cubic horizontal massing of the Municipal Exhibition Building forms a strong counterpoint to the verticality of the Wedding Tower. Even today, Olbrich's interior design for the exhibition hall proves to be highly functional.
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    The Ernst Ludwig Building 1901

     

    One of the first buildings by Olbrich, the Ernst Ludwig House, housed the artist's studios. Called by Olbrich the "Temple of Work" it was changed early on in honor of the colony's patron, Ernst Ludwig, Grand Duke of Hesse. This building like most of those on Mathildenhöhe was heavily damaged during World War II. However, most of the damage was in the rear of the building and the beautiful main portal was left largely intact.
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    Main Portal

     

    The portal is an omega shaped entrance flanked by two large figures sculpted in raw tufa stone by Ludwig Habich. They are Man and Woman. Across the top of the arch is a motto that recalls the one used in the House of Secession in Vienna. This one translates as: "The artist shall show his own world, that never was or ever will be".
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    Main Portal Ornamentation Detail

     

    The entrance has a kind of "altar" feeling to it - especially in its heavy use of gold gilt. It's quite probable that Olbrich had every intention of referencing an altar in this regard. He did, after all, view this building as a "Temple To Work". His gold ornamentation probably owes a debt of gratitude to Gustav Klimt whom Olbrich knew well as another member of the Secession.
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    The Peter Behrens House

     

    The only house on Mahildenhöhe not designed by Joseph Olbrich was Peter Behren's house. Behren's was trained as a painter and this was his first foray into architecture. It would not be his last. His home pays homage to certain Jugendstijl sensibilities while still embracing traditional German architecture. This is especially true on the pediment fronts and curved pointed arches reminiscent of Northern German architecture.
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    Detail of the Behren's House Entrance

     

    The entrance, like Olbrich's portal for the Ernst Ludwig House, exudes a temple like quality. With a linear bronze relief and the beautiful articulated glazed terra cotta brick work, the main entrance implies that one is entering hallowed ground.
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    The Russian Chapel

     

    Built in 1899 by Russian architects, the chapel provided a place of worship for the Grand Duke's sister, Alex (Alexandra) and her husband Czar Nicholas II when they came to visit. It recently underwent major restoration and is an exquisite example, albeit on a small scale, of Russian Orthodox architecture.
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    Ornamental Pool Detail.

     

    Olbrich had always envisioned a pool of some sort in front of the Russian chapel. Albin Müller who joined the colony in 1906 realized the idea in 1914.
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    The Wedding Tower

     

    The top of the wedding tower as seen from behind the exhibition building. The tower is 160 feet high. A common belief is that the top of the tower symbolizes a raised hand, however, it's more probable that Olbrich is simply mimicing a Northern German style of architecture in which step gables are used to the same effect. In this tower, the edge of each pinnacle contour is faced with a violet glazed tile that further enhances the effect.
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    Wedding Tower Mosaics 2

     

    The majestic entrance hall mosaics face each other and were designed by Friedrich Wilhelm Kluekens. The tower honors the marriage of Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore von Solms-Hohensolms-Lich. This mosaic, full of symbolism like so much Jugendstil art, represents marital love. "The Kiss" is a recurrent theme in Jugendstil art.
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    Wedding Tower Mosaics

     

    Opposite the embracing angelic couple they are watched over by the Goddess of Luck holding a cornucopia full of red roses. Whiite doves carry the message of this union of love to all of Europe.
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