History of the Castle: Stadt Roth


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History of the Castle

Ratibor Castle in Margraves Times

Georg the Pious
Georg the Pious

George the Pious

The former hunting castle of the Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach was erected by George the Pious (reigning from 1515 to 1547) between the years 1535 and 1538. A bronze plaque, the so-called list of donors, reveals some interesting details on the castle’s construction:

His Serene Highness, the Highborne Prince and Lord Georg (…) had this castle built on the basis of the income of the Silesian principalities and had it called Ratibor on the River Retzet in the year of 1535, when counting from the birth of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer.

Its strange-sounding name Ratibor is also the castle’s original name. As Georg, accompanied by his extensive entourage, was filled with hunting desire and thus regularly visited the area’s forests teeming with game, a hunting castle was erected in Roth. In the centuries after Georg the Pious, the castle temporarily fell into a deep sleep like Sleeping Beauty. The castle was serving as a seat of the margravial administrators and now and then it accommodated travelling princes. Margrave Alexander had the interior furnishing sold at the end of the 18th century. In 1791, after the abdication of Alexander, the Margravate Brandenburg-Ansbach fell into the hands of the Kingdom of Prussia.
The new administration sold the castle, apart from its northern wing (Royal Stables), to the Roth gold and silver braid manufacturer Johann Philipp Stieber the very year.

The Castle Held by the Stieber Family

Johannes Phillipp Stieber

Stieber moved into a flat in the south wing and established a manufactory in the other buildings, which was later expanded in the newly bought north wing in 1811. From 1856 to 1892, the Stieber family let the main building of the castle to the City of Roth to use it as a district court building. In the meantime, Wilhelm Stieber had taken over the firm and was leading it successfully.

In order to document his success he urgently needed an appropriate place of residence and this is why he was financing a new court building  from his own resources and swapped it in exchange for the main building of the castle, which was completely transferred to Stieber’s ownership then.

In the following years, he had it remodelled and refurbished from the scratch. In this way, an interior design was developed, which, although not yet completed by the time of Stieber’s death in 1915, belongs to the most remarkable spatial creations of the Bavarian historism. Stieber’s widow donated the castle to the City of Roth in 1942.

The Castle Owned by the City

In the 1970s, the castle underwent a mayor renovation. The Royal Stables were gutted and today houses the library, along with the so-called Margrave Hall, the meeting hall of the city council. The historic furnishings in the main building and in the south wing were subject to a comprehensive restoration. Since 1953 the castle has been housing the Museum of the City of Roth and it has been open to the public as the Ratibor Castle Museum since 1985.

Places of the Hohenzollern

Hohenzollern Family Coat of Arms
Hohenzollern Family Coat of Arms

The Hohenzollern with their two ancestors  "Buchardus et Wezil de Zolorin"  were first mentioned in a document in 1061. The original ancestral castle of the Swabian counts was Mons solarius, the Sonnenberg (Sun Hill) near Hechingen. And this is also explains their surname: solarous, zolorin, Zollern.

Learn more about other Hohenzollern places by visiting this Website.