Baden Marathon 2005: Kilometer 34

So on through the town we wound finally entering the castle (or palace) grounds in front of the Karlsruhe Palace (Schloss Karlsruhe). By the 34K marker my legs hurt so bad that I had to walk, I just couldn't seem to get the legs to work right. Here the route wound its way around the palace gardens to the back of the palace, I was in the back, almost no one around and I felt like crap. So I walked, maybe for a ½ kilometer or a kilometer, I don't know, just trying to get my head together. I was battling with thoughts about why I was doing this to myself. But on the other hand I knew I wouldn't quit, I had to finish this!

The central area of the palace forecourt gives you a clear view of the palace, enlivened, rather than obstructed, since 1988 by the small fountain at its centre. To the left and right, along the perimeter of this garden are statues of mythological, Baroque figures dating back to 1760, who, when viewed from the front, present just as delightful a picture as from the back. Next, behind these, and to the right and left of the extensive layout of the central axis are rows of lime trees. They encompass the real jewels of the palace forecourt, the gardens around the Najaden fountains (designed by Friedrich Dyckerhoff 1814 - 1816, built by Alois Raufer) in the English style with a multitude of rare trees from all over the world. The large sandstone figures, set in rows, depict the ancient gods Silus, Bacchus, Hygieia, Aesculapius, Heb or Hercules, Pan, Venus, Orpheus and Diana and were made between 1758 - 1764 by Ignaz Lengelacher, the court sculptor.

The two former sentry boxes still stand in front of the palace building. The objection that the palace courtyard is inconsistent in its design is certainly justified but this is its special attraction. Where else can you find another of its kind that holds so many surprises in such a small area?

The Karl Friedrich monument at the southern end of the palace courtyard is certainly worth mentioning. In his right hand, the margrave holds the document of the abolition of serfdom in Baden in 1782. This was six years before the French revolution and established Baden's reputation as a liberal state.

The four female figures around the plinth represent the major regions in Baden such as "Altbaden", the land on the Maine and Neckar rivers, the Black Forest and the Lake Constance region. The monument was created by the hands of the famous Bavarian sculptor Ludwig Schwantaler who erected it in 1844.

The palace was built by margrave Karl Wilhelm in 1715 in the middle of a forest and was the starting point of the city of Karlsruhe. First it was meant as a manor for rest and relaxation for the margrave, but later it became his residence and the political center of the state of Baden. All streets of the early Karlsruhe radiated from the palace into all directions like sunbeams and the tower of the palace was in the center. It is supposed that it was used as a sundial, because the spire casts its shadow every full hour onto another path. Nowadays the palace is home of the Badische Landesmuseum (Baden Land Museum) which exhibits collections about local history, greek and roman art, the treasure chamber of the margraves of Baden and temporary exhibitions.

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