Donnerstag, 2. Juni 2016 | 19.30 Uhr
The prominently positioned chapel, constructed between 1820 and 1824, overlooks the Neckar Valley. King Wilhelm purposely chose this deeply symbolic location on the site of the former family residence of the dukes of Württemberg. Moreover, it was one of Queen Katharina’s favourite places.
The inscription above the entrance to the chapel can be interpreted as King Wilhelm’s promise, eternalised by this monument. Following the sudden death of his Russian wife on 9 January 1819, Wilhelm ordered the removal of the old Wirtemberg Castle and invited architects to submit plans for a mausoleum. He chose the design by Giovanni Salucci. Later, the King himself and his eldest daughter Marie Friederike Charlotte von Württemberg were also buried here. The tomb designated for his younger daughter Sophie remained empty – she married the King of the Netherlands and was laid to rest in Delft.
Along with Rosenstein Palace, the sepulchral chapel in Rotenberg is one of the most impressive examples of neoclassical architecture in the Stuttgart region. Inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, Salucci created a circular structure made from local sandstone with three pillared porticos and steps leading up to it. The entirely white interior has a domed roof. The arrangement of pillars and the colossal statues of the four Evangelists reflect the neoclassical preference for severity and purity of style. To this day, the chapel serves as a Russian Orthodox place of worship and boasts an iconostasis (wall of icons and religious paintings). The graves are located underground – the double sarcophagus of the King and Queen lies next to the tomb of their daughter. Both are made from the finest Carrara marble.
Just a stone’s throw away is a residential house that was also designed by Salucci. It was home to a chaplain and two choristers who were employed to regularly pray and sing for Katharina’s salvation.