Showing posts with label Rosenstein Palace and Park on the Neckar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rosenstein Palace and Park on the Neckar. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rosenstein Palace and Park on the Neckar

Rosenstein Palace (© Copyright 2012)
Rosenstein Palace, or Schloß Rosenstein in German, is the former country seat of Wilhelm I, second and longest reigning king of Württemberg. Yet, it is no longer really in the country. The city of Stuttgart has grown so, that Rosenstein today is well within the greater urban area. It is presently home to the State Museum for Natural History of Stuttgart, but upon its completion in 1829 and grand opening in 1830, Rosenstein was the favorite residence of King Wilhelm and is where he died in 1864. It remained one of several royal residences until 1918, when Württemberg became a Free State (republic) and joined the Weimar Republic. In 1919, following Word War I, its furnishings and paintings were sold at public auction.

Autumn at Rosenstein Palace  (© Copyright 2012)

The small palace sits on a bluff once known in German as Kahlenstein, or "bare rock", as there was little if anything growing there. When the palace was planned, the name was changed to Rosenstein, or "pink rock". Rosenstein Palace overlooks a bend in the Neckar River, which winds its way through the district of Stuttgart known as Bad Cannstatt. At the time of Wilhelm I's reign, Bad Cannstatt was an independent town before uniting with Stuttgart in 1905. Even today, Bad Cannstatt is still proud to call Rosenstein Palace its own.

Excursion boats on the Neckar River just below the palace.  (© Copyright 2012)

Court architect Giovanni Salucci designed the palace in the second half of the 1820s.  He was to design the Wilhelmspalais in the center of Stuttgart shortly thereafter. The classic design on the outside of the palace is still visible today despite the drastic changes to the interior following its devastating fire during the Second World War. 

Rosenstein affords not only a view of the Neckar River and the old town of Bad Cannstatt, but also the Wilhelma Zoo. The zoo was originally built as a private pleasure park and retreat by King Wilhelm where he could entertain all sorts of private guests. Exotic plants and animals were brought there as well. The moorish style of the buildings found within the park echoes that of the Alhambra in Spain. A number of those structures, used for a variety of personal functions in the king's day, still stand. The zoo and gardens are definitely worthy of a visit.

Rosenstein Park, which surrounds the palace, is filled with stately chestnut trees which fill the grounds in autumn with abundant quantities of their beautiful fruits which many Stuttgarters love to collect. In the fall, the colors of the trees mixed with maples and other species provide a beautiful walk, run or bicycle ride for visitors. In the summer months, the lawns are nice for picnics as well. 

The palace is part of the greater Stuttgart Schloßpark system which begins in the middle of the city at the New Palace, or Neues Schloß. The distance between the two palaces is a very nice walk through beautiful, tree-lined allées dating back almost 200 years. 

One of the legacies of King Wilhelm I was the establishing of the Royal Württemberg State Railways. Toward the end of October 1845, the first railway line was in operation between Bad Cannstatt and Untertürkheim, where the Rotenberg is located (see previous "Rotenberg am Neckar"). Soon after, a tunnel was dug directly under Rosenstein for the train which was to go into the city of Stuttgart. The tunnel is disused today, but the sealed entrance can still be seen following a little walk just below the main path between the palace and the river. A new tunnel has since been constructed not far from there.

Very close to the Rosenstein, also within walking distance, is the smaller Villa Berg, later home to King Wilhelm I's heir, King Karl I, and his Russian wife, the well-remembered Queen Olga. Two of the cities numerous mineral spas can also be found directly to the east of the palace grounds. The famous Cannstatter Wasen, or fair ground, is also within close walking distance.
In 1877, some years after King Wilhelm's death, King Karl I opened Rosenstein to the public to view the collection of paintings his father had purchased for the palace many years before. In addition to the art and furnishings of the palace, the gardens contain some interesting and beautiful plants and trees such as Sequoia as well as the rose garden which was created during the reign of King Karl.

Sequoia on the grounds of Rosenstein Palace  (© Copyright 2012)

Rose garden in late spring  (© Copyright 2012)

Rosenstein may not be a grand or opulent palace as many might expect a king's home to be, but it is stately nonetheless. Many foreign visitors to the city do not often make their way to the palace as there are no roads or parking lots leading up to it. It is all on foot with street car or local train stations and platforms within walking distance. Exploring the palace park on foot particularly from spring through autumn combined with the Wilhelma Zoo down the hill is certainly worth the effort.
One of two lions guarding the south entrance to the palace  (© Copyright 2012)

Rosenstein Park in the fall   (© Copyright 2012)


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rotenberg am Neckar: a tragic love story

Rotunda of the Royal Mausoleum of the House of Württemberg  

Rotenberg is the hill outside of Stuttgart on which sits the memorial to a beautiful but tragic love story that took place almost 200 years ago. Württemberg's second king, Wilhem I, had fallen in love with and married a lovely young Grand Duchess of Russia, daughter of Tsar Paul I. Katharina came to Württemberg and immediately took to her new role as consort, mother and patron of a number of lasting causes for the people of her adopted land.

Steps leading up to the chapel

Despite the fact that young King Wilhelm did love his wife, he was still a subject of the times and his station, and he took a mistress. Understandably to us today, Queen Katharina had a hard time accepting this and begged the king to stop the relationship. For whatever reason be it self-control or arrogance, the king could not find it within himself to end it.

On a January evening in 1819, the young queen, upon learning that the king was with his mistress at their rural retreat, decided she would confront them. In her haste, wearing only a shawl, she commanded the coachman to take her there. She ordered the coach to stop across the field from the house so that she might go the rest of the way on foot to surprise them. After confronting them, she ran from the house back through the damp and chilly field catching a cold in the process. Within one week, the popular and beloved queen was dead. 

It is said that she died of a broken heart. For his part, the king was completely stricken with guilt and grief. As a result, he chose the hill bearing the ruins of the castle seat of the House of Württemberg, which could be seen from his small palace of Rosenstein near Stuttgart on which to build a mausoleum for her. People have said that Queen Katharina had often admired the silhouette of the ruined castle from a distance. The king had the ruins dismantled and the present chapel was erected with a crypt for her marble tomb. He would be buried next to her 45 years later. With the chapel directly visible from Rosentein Palace, the king would be forever reminded of not only his beloved queen, but also of the guilt he bore in causing her early death. 

The Chapel on the Rotenberg

It is said that during the funeral procession from Stuttgart all the way to Rotenberg chapel, the king was heard crying the entire way.

The way to the chapel on the Rotenberg   

King Wilhelm I married once again, but despite the best attempts of his new consort, Queen Pauline, their marriage was never truly happy, and she spent much of her time trying to bring peace between the king and his heir, Crown Prince Karl. Toward the end, they lived apart. He left her nothing in his will and she died with very little.

As for his family life, King Wilhelm I was never really happy. The rifts between the king and his heir, as well as that between him and his own father were always problematic. Queen Paulina spent much time trying to bridge these differences. Yet, despite his unhappy private life, the king remained popular with his people. 

Wilhelm is buried next to his beloved Katharina on the Rotenberg, and visitors can see the crypt and chapel today.

                                                                             Wilhelm                                                                        Katharina
                                                                  King of Württemberg                                                               Pavlovna
                                                          born the 27th of September 1781                                      Grand Duchess of Russia
                                                [ascended the throne] 30th of October 1816                                  Queen of Württemberg
                                                              died the 25th of June 1864                          born 10th of May 1788, died 9th of January 1819

The vistas from the hill over the immense vineyards and the town of Untertürkheim below are splendid. The hike from the Untertürkheim train station up to the Rotenberg, which can be seen from the train, is worth the effort. It takes you through the vineyards, some of which are still owned by the present-day Dukes of Württemberg. The dukes are the descendants of the last kings. The village of Rotenberg which is directly below the chapel is lovely, with a nice restaurant which boasts a fantastic view of the vineyard lined valley beneath it. The 18th century church in the middle of the village is worth seeing due to its unique design and balcony for such a small church. It is not always open, however.

Village church of Rotenberg

Cycling to the village of Rotenberg, just behind the chapel 

One set of many such steps wending through the vineyards. 

How to get to the Chapel on the Rotenberg: take the S1 local train to Untertürkheim from the Stuttgart main train station. The trip is about 15 minutes.