History of Ladenburg

by R. Beedgen, B. Stahl and R. Ziegler

Ladenburg is probably the oldest town on the right side of the Rhein River in Germany, making it one of the earliest and most significant foundations of a town in the country. Today, Ladenburg is an very vibrant town that has every reason to be proud of its exciting history.


The Celts used a Neckar alluvial fan ca. 3.000 years B.C. to lay the beginnings of the current town. They also gave the settlement a name with a meaning that, while shrouded in the darkness of time, still survives in the roots of the current name. In a stroke of luck, the remains of a “Keltenschanze” – a four-sided trench probably used for cult purposes – were excavated in the southwest of the town. The centuries that followed are still mostly unknown. Ladenburg history comes to light once again around 0 A.D. A Germanic clan called the Neckarsweben wandered in from the Elbe river region.

The Roman Town Lopodunum

The roman empire was established around 70 A.D. One of its first actions was to build a castle to demonstrate military presence. Then, in 98 A.D. The Roman Kaiser Trajan elevated the status of Ladenburg to the headquarters of the Civitas Ulpia Sueborum Nicrensium. The prerequisites were thus created for Ladenburg to develop into a Roman provincial town. Around 200 A.D. The town the Romans called Lopodunum experienced a period of prosperity. The town was surrounded by a wall within which there were, among other things, a temple, a theatre, thermal baths, and even a forum with a neighboring Market basilica. Lopodunum was known far beyond its boundaries, and the highly developed civilization of the Romans impressed the resident population. But around 260 A.D., the Alemanni came from the north and east, pushing the Romans out, whose entire empire was experiencing signs of decay. Except for a short Roman episode around 360 A.D., the Roman era was at an end.

Medieval Ladenburg

Ladenburg experienced a mass migration, ending signs of Roman civilization. Around 500 A.D., the Franks built a royal court to show off significance in Ladenburg. Ladenburg became the capital of Lobdengau. A good 100 years later, the Frankish Ladenburg was bestowed upon the Bishop of Worms. It was the beginning of bishop rule that would last until 1705. This made it possible for Ladenburg to develop into a medieval town.

There are visible signs of the presence in the St. Gallus Church, the St. Sebastian Chapel, the Bischofshof (Lobdengau-Museum) and the Fürstenbau (The town Library).

The town built its first medieval wall during the ninth and tenth centuries which was extended around 1200 A.D. The masonry samples, the Martinstor (Martin’s Gate) the Hexenturm (Witches’ Tower) and parts of the Pfaffenturm (Cleric’s Tower) are all special features of this town wall and tourist magnets of the town.

The bishop’s presence was accompanied by a series of extended stays of German Kings and Kaisers, such as Heinrich II., Heinrich IV. And Maximilian I. The construction of the St. Gallus Church from the 13th to the 15th century emphasized the significance of Ladenburg. The Prince-elector of the Palatinate determined the town’s destiny in the 14th century.

Modern Times

The Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries brought substantial complications and destruction to the town This conflict-ridden time was shaped by the direct conflict between the Catholic Bishop of Worms and the Prince-elector of the Palatinate, who was an early follower of the ideas of the Reformation.

The era of Worms Bishops essentially ended in 1705, when an agreement of cession was made between the Prince-elector and the Bishop. The era of Prince-Electors was ended with the Napoleon’s conquest of the Electoral Palatinate (Kurpfalz). In 1803, the fate of Ladenburg was placed in the hands of the Grand Duke of Karlsruhe (Baden), with less-than-positive results for the town. The Revolution of 1948 brought soldiers from Mecklenburg to the town who fought and died on the side of the Grand Duke and were buried in Ladenburg’s cemetery.

Historic Figures

Numerous names of famous people are connected to Ladenburg’s history. In addition to the Bishop of Worms, Johannes von Dalberg (1445–1503), a known humanist, there is also Johann Friedrich von Seilern (1646–1715), The son of a local dyer, who rose to the rank of Chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, and who penned the Sanctio Pragmatica, which paved the way to heir the throne as Kaiser for the Hapsburg descendant Maria Theresia. Persons of Mention are also: The Italian composer and violinist Arcangelo Corelli (1653–1713), who bore the title of “Marques de Ladenburg” bestowed upon him by the Prince-Elector Johann Wilhelm, and Johann Christoph Sauer (1695–1757), who emigrated to North America in 1724 and printed the New World’s first bible written in German.

The inventor of the Automobile, Dr. Carl Benz (1844–1929), lived in Ladenburg in 1904 until his death. He and his wife, Bertha, received the town’s honors: Their grave site is located in the Ladenburg Cemetery The Benz House, the most likely world’s first Stone car garage, located in the Benz Park, and the Automuseum Dr. Carl Benz are among the most special tourist attractions in the town.
Further honorary citizens of the town are the great archaeologist Dr. Berndmark Heukenme (1924–2009), Who literally made the town’s history visible, and one-time-mayor Reinhold Schulz (1931–2008), who dedicated himself to the urban development of the town for 28 years. The town owes it’s current face to these two People and the civic voluntary dedication of the Heimatbund members.