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:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.