Town History

1st-2nd century AD:

Evidence of Roman settlement in the Alb Valley at this time includes religious objects, tools, various vessels and coins.

The first written mention of Ettlingen, as `Ediningom´, appears in a deed of donation belonging to Wissembourg Abbey in Alsace. This year is considered the first date in Ettlingen’s history, even though the town surely existed well before then.

The affiliation with Wissembourg Abbey can be seen in an official seal showing a key, the symbol for Saints Peter and Paul. Above the key is the heraldic bend of Baden. This design can be found on the first storey (1. OG) of the town hall, in the crossover from the town hall to the tower.

The village of `Ediningom´ is granted market privileges by Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great, establishing its function in the region as a commercial center.

The market town of Ettlingen is made a city by Emperor Henry VI, son of Frederick I Barbarossa”. City rights include the right to establish fortifications. The wall surrounding the central portion of the Altstadt, which can still be seen today, is built in several phases.

The southern part of the Altstadt (between the Alb and the S-Bahn tracks) is secured by a double moat system, the northern Altstadt (between the Alb and Pforzheimer Straße) is given only simple fortifications, but towers, like the Lauerturm (“Lookout Tower”), are built at the corners for extra protection.

A substantial portion of the city budget was set aside for the maintenance ofr moats and walls. When the French managed to penetrate these defenses in 1689, the decline of city walls as effective protection against enemies was apparent. In the 18th century the moats were filled in and used as grazing land. Today they are the wide avenues around the Altstadt.

Margrave Hermann V of Baden becomes liege lord of Ettlingen; Lichtental Abbey, dynastic monastery of the House of Baden, takes over the patronage of St. Martin’s Church from Wisembourg Abbey starting in 1245. The Wissembourg emblem, the key of Peter, disappears from the city arms of Ettlingen, and the current arms are born: next to the arms of Baden (red bend on a yellow field), a white tower on a blue field.

Margrave Jacob I has Baden’s first paper mill erected, along with the city’s already existing saw, oil, and grist mills. This establishes a new industrial sector and secures Ettlingen’s role as a paper manufacturing centre.

The city is almost completely burned to the ground by the French troops of Louis XIV during the Nine Year’s War (In German the War of `Palatine Succession´, der Pfälzische Erbfolgekrieg). All city and church records are destroyed.

The next thirty years are dedicated to the reconstruction of public and private buildings. A stained-glass window on the first storey (1. OG) of the town hall captures a defining moment of this period: Margravine Sybilla Augusta receives the plans for the new St. Martin’s Church from the hands of master-builder Johann Michael Rohrer. After its destruction it is rebuilt as a Baroque hall church, the form it retains to his day.

The scene also includes other important buildings such as the town hall, the palace, and private buildings also built according to plans at this time.

Margravine Sybilla Augusta chooses Ettlingen as her widow’s residence. Court master-builder  Johann Michael Rohrer is commissioned with the reconstruction of Ettlingen Palace (Ettlinger Schloss). Rohrer gives the south wing Baroque features, and for the interior design employs  fresco painter Lucca Antonio Colomba and stucco artist Donato Riccardo Retti. At the request of Sybilla Augusta the palace complex is expanded to include a chapel. The chapel is dedicated to St. John of Nepomuk, a recently canonized Bohemian cleric and martyr. The Margravine’s motives are perhaps out of national pride, as she herself grew up in Schlackenwerth near Karlsbad (modern Ostrov near Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic). Sybilla Augusta also contracts the best fresco painter of her time, Bavarian artist Cosmas Damian Asam, to decorate the walls and dome of the palace chapel with scenes from the life, passion, and death of her favorite saint. Asam completes this enormous task within ten weeks in the summer of 1732. 

St. Martin’s Church, whose history dates back to Frankish times, is rebuilt, becoming a testament in stone to diverse western architectural traditions. In the same year, the citizens of Ettlingen are able to complete the construction of the new town hall. Designed by Johann Peter Ernst Rohrer, brother of Sybilla Augusta’s master-builder, its beautifully composed red sandstone façade and its unapologetically Baroque tower and cupola form the architectural counterpoint to St. Martin’s. Both buildings are among the city’s most important landmarks. 

The Catholic line of the margraves of Baden-Baden dies out; Ettlingen comes under the dominion of the the Protestant margraves of Baden-Durlach.

The Battle of Malsch, or as it’s designated on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, `Bataille d’Ettlingen´. Archduke Karl of Austria and the French general Moreau fight a battle just outside the gates of Ettlingen.

Napoleon briefly sets up his quarters in Ettlingen Palace during his campaigns in the region.

Philipp Thiebauth of Ettlingen plays an important leadership role during the `Revolution of Baden´, but goes into exile for several years after the subsequent failure of the uprising.

The period after the Franco-Prussian War is a time of great growth and progress for Ettlingen. Much of the credit can be given to Philipp Thiebauth, who after his return was elected to at least three consecutive terms as mayor after 1870. His era witnesses the construction of a running water system, a schoolhouse, and the establishment of non-commissioned officers’ school in the palace. Groundwork for the construction of the Alb Valley Railway (Albtalbahn) is also begun, which will go into service in 1897, about ten years after Thiebauth’s death.

 On the occasion of an erroneously celebrated city anniversary, today’s B3 is opened as Umgehungsstraße.

Hugo Rimmelspacher, executive and trustee of Ettlingen Engineering Works (Ettlinger Maschinenfabrik), is elected mayor. The city is home to 19,000 residents.

Ettlingen becomes twin town to Épernay in Champagne, one of the first German-French twinning agreements.

Ettlingen is promoted to the status of Große Kreisstadt, making it officially a major town within Landkreis (District) Karlsruhe.

The Belgian resort town of Middelkerke is also twinned with Ettlingen.

Following major communal organization reforms, the localities of Bruchhausen, Ettlingenweier, Oberweier, Schluttenbach, Schöllbronn and Spessart are incorporated into the community of Ettlingen.

Ettlingen begins a major urban redevelopment project of the Altstadt, attracting attention from all over Europe.

The Schlossfestspiele, Ettlingen’s summer theater series, takes place for the first time in the Baroque inner court of the palace.

The English town of Clevedon becomes Ettlingen’s third twin town.

Coinciding with the opening of the Baden-Württemberg State Garden Show (Landesgartenschau), the Palace Garden Hall, designed according to the plans of architect Freiherr von Branca, is officially dedicated. The end of the year sees the beginning of construction on the Wattkopf Tunnel.

Ettlingen enters into a German-German twinning areement with the city of Löbau in Saxony.

The Russian city of Gatchina becomes Ettlingen’s fifth twin city.

The Wattkopf Tunnel is opened. Ettlingen hosts the Heimattage Baden-Württemberg, a yearly celebration of local culture in southwest Germany.

Withdrawal of American troops from the Rhineland Barracks. A second town hall is built across from the Altstadt at Albarkaden.

Baden-Württemberg’s Landeskunstwochen (`State Art Weeks´) take place in Ettlingen with the motto `KunstRaumStadt´ (`ArtSpaceCity´).

The newly renovated Stadthalle, Ettlingen’s major civic centre for events, is opened in November.

Ettlingen hosts the State Literature Days (Landesliteraturtage). At the end of the year, Ettlingen is hit by `Lothar´, a major storm which devastes much of the Black Forest. Many buildings are heavily damaged, and large sections of forest are totally wiped out.

The Bismarck Tower is temporarily reopened as an observation tower. The `new´ city of Ettlingen is 25 years old. The immense damage caused by Lothar to the forest around Ettlingen becomes more apparent. A cinema is opened on the premises of the former Rhineland Barracks.

The Albgaubad bathing complex is given over to the public. Ettlingen’s partnership with Middelkerke is 30 years old.

A decision is made about the Buhlsche Mill and the sluice. Bruchhausen’s twinning with Fère Champenoise is 40 years old.

Ettlingen’s partnership with Épernay is 50 years old, one of the oldest twinning arrangements in the country. Ms. Gabriela Büssemaker wins the mayorial race against incumbent mayor Josef Offele.

A treaty of friendship is signed between Ettlingen and the Italian city of Menfi, which will become another twin city in 2007.

The photo shows Italian mayor Buscemi with his German counterpart Büssemaker in the palace’s Asamsaal.

District council elections see for the first time the election of two independent voters’ associations to the council.

Cornelia Petzold-Schick becomes mayor of Ettlingen and Robert Benz leads the jury for the International Competition for Young Pianists. The Market Fest is 25 years old.

The Schiller School and Sacred Heart Church are both 100 years old. Ettlingen celebrates 35 years of twinning with Middelkerke. Former forced laborers visit Ettlingen. Udo Schürmer becomes the fourth theatre manager of the Schlossfestspiele.

Translator: Chase Faucheux