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Baroque and Rococo reached a triumphant fulfilment in the churches and palaces of southern Germany, and the styles are manifested in the region in some of the most uplifting and spectacular buildings in the world. It is astonishing that these marvels are not better known, but the artistic heritage of Germany continues to be sadly undervalued. Moreover, many of the choicest items on this tour are not easily accessible, being situated deep in the countryside.
Around the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries there was something of an economic miracle in the German lands, accompanied by a frenetic upsurge in building activity. This followed nearly a whole century which was blighted by wars and economic collapse. At the end of it the Catholic Church emerged revitalised, wealthier than ever and triumphant in its defeat of Protestantism. In the temporal sphere, the creed of absolutism, which imposed few constraints on the power of the prince or local lord, was at its height.
The Baroque style was the perfect expression both for the Church Triumphant and for the temporal ruler who, taking his cue from Louis XIV at Versailles, wished to overawe his subjects and impress on all visitors the might and magnificence of his person.
The Rococo, which arrived in Germany in the 1730s, was delicate and light-hearted by comparison with the imposing magnificence of High Baroque, but produced some of the most exquisite interiors in the history of art.