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A „porcelain palace“ to rival any in Europe
Rastatt Favorite Palace
Pen and ink drawing of the Favorite Palace facade, by Michael Ludwig Rohrer. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

The royal architectMichael Ludwig Rohrer

Favorite Palace was built based on the plans of Michael Ludwig Rohrer (1683–1732), a Bohemian architect whom Margravine Sibylla Augusta von Baden-Baden named her royal architect in 1707. Many of the rooms Rohrer created, such as the garden hall at Rastatt Favorite Palace, still display a very special charm.

Engraving of Schlackenwerth Palace with the garden house, by Johann Michael Sockh, 1716. Image: Schlackenwerth Palace General State Archive

Schlackenwerth Palace and garden, Johann Michael Sockh, 1716.

Who was Rohrer?

Like Sibylla Augusta, Rohrer was from Bohemia. His father worked as a master carpenter and fountain master at Schlackenwerth Palace, the margravine's childhood home. Her husband, Ludwig Wilhelm, is said to have strongly urged the father to instruct his sons in nothing other than the architectural arts. Michael Ludwig may have also received instruction from famous architect Christoph Dientzenhofer.

How did Rohrer come to Rastatt?

The Margraviate of Baden-Baden, destroyed in 1689, required a great deal of work, such as the construction of the new residence in Rastatt. So the Rohrer family moved. As of 1707, Michael Ludwig Rohrer designed all important buildings commissioned by Sibylla Augusta. Favorite Palace and the palace church in Rastatt were his two largest projects. In the residential city, however, this also included the Einsiedeln chapel and the pagoda castle, a small garden pavilion.

View of the sala terrena, Rastatt Favorite Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

The sala terrena, or garden hall, Rastatt Favorite Palace.

Do Rohrer's structures share similarities?

Rohrer frequently used octagonal shapes in his structures. The octagonal, several story high sala terrena, Favorite Palace's garden hall, was inspired by the garden at Schlackenwerth Palace. The hermitage in the Favorite Palace garden, the pagoda castle and the hunting lodge in Baden-Baden are also octagonal, hexagonal or similar. Rohrer also chose this shape for the hermitage in Waghäusel, which was commissioned by Cardinal Damian Hugo von Schönborn.

Where else did Rohrer work?

Beginning in 1723, Rohrer worked on Bruchsal Palace and other buildings for Damian Hugo von Schönborn, the prince-bishop of Speyer and Sibylla Augusta's friend. However, the relationship between him and his employer was not great. In 1728, he returned to Sibylla Augusta. He expanded her dower house in Ettlingen, and died there in 1732. His younger brother, Peter Ernst Rohrer, became his successor, and went on to complete some of his plans.