Rötteln Castle has probably existed since the beginning of the 11th century. In the year 1102 is the first documented mention of a lord of Rötteln, the bailiff of St. Albans near Basel. This year is also considered the date of the founding of the city of Lörrach. In 1204 Dietrich III of Rötteln died, having amassed a large holding in the Wiese valley. The first documented mention of the castle itself is from the year 1259.
Luithold II von Rötteln died on May 19, 1316, and the passing of Rötteln to Hachberg-Sausenburg was an important step in the eventual formation of the Markgräflerland. In 1332 the castle was besieged by the people of Basel because the Margrave Rudolf II stabbed the mayor of Basel during an argument. The conflict was resolved at the last moment through an agreement to settle the argument. Arrowheads, crossbow bolts, and other finds near the castle attest to this siege.
The Basel earthquake of 1356 destroyed large portions of the city, and the castle suffered severe damage. In 1503 the castle came into the possession of the Margrave of Baden. In 1525 revolting farmers briefly took possession of the castle. From 1618 to 1648 during the Thirty Years War the castle was occupied by both Swedish and Imperial forces.
During the Franco-Dutch War, on June 29, 1678, the castles of Rötteln, Sausenburg, and Badenweiler were destroyed by the army of the French Marshall François de Créquy. Due to the extreme poverty after the war, the castle ruins were thereafter used as a source of building stone (quarry).
The Black Forest Society of Baden began to survey the ruins in 1884 in order to preserve it. Since 1926 this has been the concern of the Röttelnbund e.V. club based in Lörrach-Haagen. Today the ruins have been restored to approximately their condition after their destruction in 1678.
The site of the castle extends from northwest to southwest over a distance of almost 300 meters. The widely spread castle can be roughly divided into the fore-castle and upper castle. To the west a bastion-like point extends for the placement of light artillery. Passage from the fore-castle to the upper castle is by means of a drawbridge. The upper castle with its powerful keep is the oldest part of the castle. Archaeological finds from the castle and grounds are on display in the museum in the courtyard of the castle.
The 'Green Tower', at the highest point of the keep, offers a particularly fine view of Lörrach, the Wiese valley and several Swiss mountain peaks. The castle ruins are the most notable landmark of the border town. The Röttler Burgfestspiele, an open air live theater in the castle courtyard, has operated annually each summer since 1968.
The lower castle is open year round and the keep and museum are open in the summer and on weekends in the winter. Tours are available with prior reservations. In addition to the small museum, there is a Burgschänke or traditional restaurant / pub in the bailey.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.