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A „porcelain palace“ to rival any in Europe

Rastatt Favorite Palace

Pebbles on the exterior facade, Rastatt Favorite Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff
Creating the exterior wall

Pebbles

adorn the facade

Nothing but plain stones? Where other palaces are decorated with figures and elaborately chiseled sandstone ornamentation, Rastatt Favorite Palace uses an exterior plaster made of smashed red river rock and lighter pebbles.

Detail of the facade, Rastatt Favorite Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

A pebble-adorned facade.

Why pebbles?

The unusual pebble plaster on the Favorite Palace facade is explained by the following story: Margravine Sibylla Augusta von Baden-Baden is said to have asked poor children to collect pebbles from streams and the Murg river bed river while the palace was being built. She then paid for each basket of pebbles with her own money, and a chunk of bread. In the words of the bible, she literally turned “stone to bread” and subsequently had the pebbles incorporated in the facade.

View of the north facade, Rastatt Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

The pebbles are indistinguishable from afar.

How unusual was this facade?

Regardless of how the pebbles were collected from the area rivers, the idea to use them as decor was unusual, but not entirely original. Pebble plaster was used often in the Baroque style, but usually for artificial garden grottoes or garden halls. Schlackenwerth Palace, in Sibylla Augusta's native Bohemia, also had such grottoes. The pebble facade is one example of the many ways in which Sibylla Augusta combined modern designs with her personal ideas.

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