Alamanicus

Badenweiler Castle Ruins

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Old Alamanicus got a bit excited as he walked through Badenweiler Kurpark (Spa park) when he came across the ruins of Aqua Villae - the old Roman baths that he helped put into the very state one can see them in today, i.e. rubble. He and his mates were having a little party after kicking some Roman butt and, well, one thing led to another, and before they knew it, the ceiling caved in and the walls fell down. He was, however, on his way to another set of ruins - Baden Castle (or Burg Baden as they say locally) - so did not linger at the scene of past misdemeanours.

Badenweiler CastleBaden castle is located in prime castle position, which is to say on top of a hill, and entrance is free. It was the Romans who first built there, to protect Aqua Villae, and a fat lot of good it did them. Alamanicus was interested in visiting because he spent a bit of time here, building a castle to secure the territory he recently won from the Romans in the 3rd century A.D. It's a good spot for a castle because it looks out over the Rhine plain, where Alamanicus' enemies always come from. Unfortunately for Alamanicus' ongoing quest to learn the fate of his people, the castle does not reveal anything.

Badenweiler castle seen through the Kurzentrum buildingAccording to the rather sparse information posted on site (which Alamanicus is pleased to translate, after a fashion, into English for his Anglo-Saxon cousins) the current structure is first mentioned in 1122, well after Alamanicus' time, as a stronghold of the Dukes of Zähringen (the local nobility). In 1147 it became the property of Henry the Lion (a powerful German prince), before being acquired in 1158 by Frederick I (Holy Roman Emperor and King of Germany). By 1190 at the latest the castle was again in the possession of the Dukes of Zähringen. Between 1398-1415 it was pledged to the House of Habsburg (the great Austrian royal house that provided 3 centuries of Holy Roman Emperors), and between 1404-1406 it was the residence of Catharine, Duchess of Burgundy (wife of Leopold IV, Duke of Austria).

The view from Badenweiler castle across the Rhine Plain towards the Vosges mountains in FranceThe current state of repair, which might best be described as "manicured rubble" dates from the Dutch War of 1672-1678 when, on 6th April 1678 retreating French forces destroyed the castle in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of Holland's German allies. Subsequent restoration work has secured the site for tourists, though there are stern warnings in German that indicate that the castle is particularly susceptible to lightning strikes and people should not, therefore, enter during thunderstorms.

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Alamanicus is wandering his old Alemanni haunts, revisiting the places where once he used to drink, carouse, and beat up the odd Roman legionnaire or two. Things have moved on since his day, and the old Alemanni country now lies across south west Germany, French Alsace, and northern Switzerland. Cut through by the mighty Rhine, it is an area of great beauty, and a lot has happened there since Alamanicus last walked this land.

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