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Birch House

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Designed by the Swiss court architect Francois Viollier, the Birch House was erected in the mid- 1780s, and from the outside it resembled a pile of birch logs that were stored for a long winter. It was conceived as a joke, an 18th century pastoral caprice, as its plain-l
ooking facades disguised the magnificent and sumptuous interior. Wall painting, gilded plaster work, and an abundance of mirrors gave this interior a particularly spectacular appearance. The contrast between the simple outer covering of the house and its exquisite interior never failed to astonish guests who encountered the “surprise-house” as they walked about the park.

In 1796, a monumental gateway that screened the Birch House, the Portal Mask, was constructed under the guidance of architect Vincenzo Brenna. In the second half of 1790s, a stone gateway was erected at the eastern end of the Palace Park. It was called the Birch Gate, named after the Birch House located nearby.