What did it look like in Rastatt in the past? Which important events mark turning points in Rastatt's history? Visitors to the city museum can find answers to these and other questions on a tour of the permanent exhibition on the city's history. Chronologically structured, the history of the baroque city is presented from 1700 to the present. Emphasis is placed on the Baroque period, the construction of the Federal Fortress of Rastatt and the defortification at the end of the 19th century.
Outstanding events in the history of the town include the Peace of Rastatt (1714), the Rastatt Congress (1797-1799), the Baden Revolution of 1848/49 and the Rastatt Trials (1946-1954).
Rastatt's history at a glance
From the Bronze Age to the 16th century
The settlement of the Rastatt district dates back to the Bronze Age. The village of Rasteten, conveniently located at an important river crossing, was first mentioned at the end of the 11th century.
King Ruprecht granted the village market rights in 1404. The market developed into a preferred trading center for Alsatian wine. That is why the town of Rastatt has the wine ladder in its coat of arms.
The Palatinate War of Succession in 1689 completely destroyed the market town. This was followed by the reconstruction of the town as the new residence and model town of Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden-Baden.
Baroque city foundation
Slightly elevated above the city lies the imposing complex of the Rastatt Residence Palace . High up on the roof shines the golden figure of Jupiter, popularly known as the "Golden Man". It symbolizes the builder of the castle: Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden-Baden, who ruled from 1677 to 1707. Rastatt was the residence of the Margraviate of Baden-Baden from 1705 to 1771. Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden-Baden had decided in 1700 to build a modern baroque residence in Rastatt instead of his hunting lodge, which had already been started. The palace is one of the earliest German examples of the imitation of the architectural style of Versailles, in which the father of the country immortalized himself in architecture. The margrave also displayed his military merits in the palace - as an imperial commander he had been successful in the Great Turkish War, earning him the nickname "Turkish Louis." in 1705, the family moved into a side wing of the palace - but the margrave could hardly enjoy his new residence. Ludwig Wilhelm died in January 1707, and now his wife Sibylla Augusta ruled over the country - for 20 years as regent in place of their son Ludwig Georg, who was still underage. Sibylla Augusta completed the interior decoration of the palace and added further buildings to the residence. Her Favorite pleasure palace, located a few kilometers away, still bears witness to her exceptional taste in art. Neither palace was destroyed in World War II and both are still in their original condition.
1714: The Peace of Rastatt
In 1714, Rastatt was the scene where European history was written. It was here that the Peace of Rastatt ended the War of the Spanish Succession, in which all the major European powers had been involved since 1701. The castle provided the stage for the four months of peace negotiations that culminated in the Peace of Rastatt.
The Baden-Baden line dies out: The margraviate falls to Baden-Durlach
The last decade of the Catholic margraviate is marked by numerous initiatives to secure the religious freedom of the subjects: the founding of a convent for the education of Catholic girls, the completion of the Catholic city parish of St. Alexander, the rich donations of the princely house to the new city parish, and the beatification of Margrave Bernard. When the Baden-Baden line died out in 1771, the margraviate fell to the Protestant Baden-Durlach. Rastatt loses its residential privileges.
The Rastatt Congress 1797-1799 and the economic upswing
The new state government under Margrave Karl Friedrich took various initiatives to promote Rastatt's economy. These included hosting the Rastatt Congress in the former residential palace as well as founding a carriage factory. The Court of Justice and later the Middle Rhine District Government were established in Rastatt. In the first half of the 19th century, the town developed into a prosperous center of authority. Portraits of citizens and everyday objects provide evidence of this new civic culture.
1842 the federal fortress in Rastatt is built
The start of construction of the federal fortress in 1842 marked a break in the city's development. The cityscape and also life in the city changed fundamentally. The authorities moved away, economic development was henceforth very limited and heavily dependent on the military. The Federal Fortress itself was actually under siege only once. in 1849, it served as a last retreat for the revolutionary army.
The Baden Revolution
In 1849, Rastatt became the central scene of the revolutionary events that took place in Baden and the Palatinate from early May to July. From July 1 to 23, more than 5,500 men of the revolutionary army were trapped in the fortress, eventually surrendering to the Prussian besiegers. The federal fortress of Rastatt became a special symbol of the Baden Revolution. For the Prussians it was the site of triumph, for the Baden democrats the place of suppression.
From 1890 the ramparts fall
The defortification of Rastatt marked a decisive turning point for the development of the town and its economy. in 1890, the ramparts fell and Rastatt became an open town again. New industries settled in Rastatt and brought prosperity to the city. The construction of the new Rastatt synagogue also took place during this period. The First World War and the world economic crisis abruptly stopped the upswing. Unemployment, housing shortages and poverty characterized life in the border town in the coming decades.
Rastatt in the 20th century
The First World War and the Great Depression had an impact in the first decades of the 20th century. During the Third Reich, Rastatt once again became a garrison town and narrowly escaped destruction during World War II.
The Rastatt Trials were some 20 major criminal proceedings with a combined total of more than 2,000 defendants held in Rastatt Castle between 1946 and 1954 in the French occupation zone against those responsible for the German Reich during the Nazi era.
After the war, French soldiers moved into the barracks and shaped life in the town until their departure in the 1990s. With the opening of a Daimler AG plant in 1997, Rastatt became an important location for the automotive industry.
Today, the large district town of Rastatt is the seat of the district of Rastatt and a lively medium-sized center.
Direction: Iris Baumgärtner, M.A.
Thurs, Fri, Sat: 12 to 5 p.m.
Sun & Holidays: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Group tours by arrangement
Adults 3 euros, reduced 1 euro
Group tour 40 €, on weekends and holidays 50 € (max. 20 people)
Free admission with the Museum-Pass-Musée
Newsletter of the Rastatt City Museum: February 2023 (PDF) (323 KB)