Bypass Repeated Content

A significant monument in the region's history

The Sepulchral Chapel of the Grand Duchy

Gruft der Großherzoglichen Grabkapelle Karlsruhe; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Urheber unbekannt
In the lower story of the chapel

The crypt

A total of 18 coffins from the period between 1830 and 1952 stand in the niches of the crypt. Members of the House of Baden were buried here, including all grand dukes of Baden since 1830. Other family members, originally buried in the city church of Karlsruhe, were moved to the sepulchral chapel after the city church was destroyed in World War II.

Interior view of the Sepulchral Chapel of the Grand Duchy in Karlsruhe. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

An imposing sense of space.

The interior design

Through a leather-covered door with iron fittings, visitors leave the transept of the main floor and descend to the lower story via a wide staircase. In front of the last step, wrought-iron bars close off the entrance itself. The crypt mirrors the floor plan of the main story: a central space with characteristic central columns, around which individual niches with the coffins are grouped. The capitals of the columns are decorated with stylized plant motifs, including poppyseed capsules, traditional symbol of grief, sleep, and death. In contrast to the main floor, the original colorful glass windows with plant motifs have survived in the lower story.

Hilda von Nassau, portrait circa 1885. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

Hilda von Nassau in her youth.

The first and last burials

On the very day after the dedication of the sepulchral chapel at the end of June 1896, Prince Ludwig Wilhelm's coffin was brought from the Protestant city church to the new crypt. His uncle, Margrave Wilhelm (1829–1897), died the following April. He was the father of Prince Max von Baden, the last chancellor of the empire, and founded the von Baden branch of the family, which lives in Salem to this day. His corpse was brought to Salem in 1953 and interred there. However, his coffin remains in the crypt. The last burial in the sepulchral chapel took place in 1952: Grand Duchess Hilda's burial was attended by a large crowd of mourning citizens.

Moving the coffins

After the city church at the Marktplatz was destroyed in World War II, the coffins of various family members were brought to the sepulchral chapel in Hardtwald forest in 1946. Since then, the last five of a total of seven grand dukes of Baden and their wives have rested here. The sequence begins with Ludwig I, followed by Leopold and his wife Sophie and their son Ludwig II, then Friedrich I and Luise, and Friedrich II and Hilda. Other family members who did not rule are also buried here.

Coffin of Prince Ludwig Wilhelm August von Baden in the Sepulchral Chapel of the Grand Duchy in Karlsruhe. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Helene Seifert

The coffin of Prince Ludwig Wilhelm August von Baden.

The coffins in the crypt

Almost all of the coffins are made in the same style: wood with black, red, or violet velvet covers, embroidered gold or silver braids, and silver-gilt name plaques. Gilded bronze fittings in the shape of griffins' heads serve as handles. The feet on which the coffins rest are in the shape of lions' paws or griffins' claws. A small, fragile child's coffin is particularly moving. It belongs to Princess Henriette von Baden, who died in 1834, when she was one year old.

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