The first Baroque residence on the Upper Rhine

Rastatt Residential Palace

Aerial view of the palace grounds, Rastatt Residential Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende
SYMMETRICAL ENSEMBLE

THE BUILDINGS

Typical Baroque: Rastatt Palace is entirely symmetrical. The interior is designed around two staircases and two-by-two mirrored apartments. But what's more, the entire complex is part of a geometric network of roads.

1697 hunting lodge, copper engraving circa 1705, Domenico Egidio Rossi. Image: Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe

Rossi first designed a hunting lodge in 1697.

CONSTRUCTION OF THE PALACE

In 1697, Italian architect Domenico Egidio Rossi had begun planning and building a hunting lodge for Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm. In 1700, there was a change of plans: The building should now become a new residential palace. Parts of the central structure was dismantled and replaced with a new, wider structure. Rossi situated the palace slightly above the town, which was possible because of the natural fall between the high and low floodplain terraces common throughout the entire region.

Aerial view of the town of Rastatt with the Residential Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

Many roads lead directly to the palace.

GRAND AXES

The palace's axial integration into its surroundings is still visible today. A road axis originating from the palace divides the downtown area, which is laid out as a sequence of squares. This axis once pointed at the French Fort Louis on the other side of the Rhine river. In the opposite direction, it stretches all the way to Ettlingen, where the margraves' older palace sits. In Rastatt, three roads lead to the palace, exactly like in Versailles.

Costumed tour guide on the staircase, Rastatt Residential Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Niels Schubert

Costumed palace tour guides point out hidden treasures.

ITALIAN ARTISTS AT WORK

The palace was decorated by Italian artists. Painter Paolo Manni and stuccoist Giovanni Battista Artario worked here after 1701. Two years later, after Manni's death, three Bolognese frescoists, worked on the palace under the supervision of Giuseppe Roli. Rococo stucco work was added in the 18th century. What these artists left behind is still impressive today, which is why, at any spot in the palace, it's worth looking up!

Representational stucco decor in the yellow drawing room in the margravine's apartment. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown
Cavetto in the regent's antechamber in the margrave's apartment. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele
Stucco figure of a captive Turk in chains on the wall in the ancestral hall. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

Impressive, detailed decoration can be found everywhere inside the palace.