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Monument to eternal love

The Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill

Front view of the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill with its sweeping staircase. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth
PROMINENT CLASSICAL CENTRAL STRUCTURE

THE BUILDING

With this building, King Wilhelm I fulfilled his wife Katharina's wish to be buried atop Württemberg Hill. Today, the sepulchral chapel is one of the best examples of classical architecture in the Stuttgart area.

Cupola room design for the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill, in pen, 1820. Scan: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg

One of the submitted designs.

CONTEST FOR THE NEW STRUCTURE

A contest was held in 1819 to select the architect who would build the sepulchral chapel. Royal court architect Giovanni Battista Salucci won. The Italian architect presented at least three designs to the king, varying in their degree of ornamentation. In addition to a modest design, there was a very lavish design with a full colonnade and an imposing base. The design that was finally chosen was a compromise between these two.

Front view of the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill with its sweeping staircase. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Sven Grenzemann

Staircases and landings lead upward.

INSPIRED BY FAMOUS EXAMPLES

Salucci's designs were inspired by structures such as the Pantheon in Rome and Andrea Palladio's famous Villa Rotonda, built in the late 16th century in Vicenza, Italy. The sepulchral chapel is a free-standing circular building with three porticoes and four perrons, open staircases skirting the structure. Its monumental proportions serve solely to enhance its effect from a distance and are perfectly suited to its prominent position.

MODELED AFTER ANTIQUITY

A large staircase with three landings lends the structure a noble, monumental air. It leads to the circular walkway around the chapel and to its entrance. Each landing hosts cast-iron tripods for torches and offering bowls. They are based on examples from antiquity and indicate the chapel's function as a mausoleum. The portico columns are crowned with Ionic capitals and are based directly on those in the Italian Villa Rotonda.

Columns at the entrance to the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff
Tripod on a staircase landing at the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Roland Rossner
Ionic column capital at the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

The structure boasts excellent stone masonry.

Golden inscription at the entrance to the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Roland Rossner

A proclamation of love completes the structure.

"LOVE NEVER DIES"

The foundation stone for the sepulchral chapel was laid as early as May of 1820. The king pushed ahead with the construction intently, so that the interior design began in 1821. With the inscription "love never dies", a bible verse used in the queen's eulogy, construction on the building finished in spring of 1824. Bible verses can also be found above the north and south doors. The queen's inscription can be found on the east side of the building, behind which the sanctuary interior is located.

Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill, dedication to Queen Katharina. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

The dedication on the Sepulchral Chapel on Württemberg Hill demonstrates quality stone cutting.

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