Schloss Gottesaue

Karlsruhe, Germany | C.1094

Photo Credit: Fouad H. Sleiman

Schloss Gottesaue (Gottesaue Palace) has had a very lively existence. Destroyed and rebuilt multiple times over its 420 years, the castle has taken on many forms and functions, from summer house to fruit store to music school.

Margrave Ernst Friedrich commissioned the palace as a summer residence around 1584, based on a design by Johannes Schoch, Strasbourg council’s chief architect at the time. The 5-towered building featured a chapel on the second floor and a large ballroom on the third. 

But war was to play a huge role in the history of the palace. Though it survived the Thirty Years war largely unscathed, it was almost entirely burned to the ground during the Palatinate War of Succession. What remained was shabbily repaired and used by the government, but was again burned down in 1735. Afterwards, the palace was reconstructed in a different, smaller form and used as a fruit market. 

In 1818, the military moved into Gottesaue, and over the next several years it served as a military barracks, commercial business, and police school. However, the palace was almost completely gutted by air raids during WWII, and lay in ruins once again for nearly 40 years. 

Rebuilt from 1982-1989, today’s castle looks a lot like it did in the 16th century, and even features visible parts of the old structure in its exterior walls. Architect Barbara Jakubelt won the Hugo Häring Prize for her redesign of the castle, which ingeniously blends old and new elements on both the exterior and interior. The Palace has been the home of the Karlsruhe University of Music since its reopening in 1989.

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