Memorial of King Ludwig I

In the historical heart of Kelheim we encounter the statue of an eminent person: King Ludwig I of Bavaria, initiator of the construction of the “Befreiungshalle” (Liberation Hall). The city’s most important landmark was built to represent the victory of the alliance of various German rulers over Napoleon during the European Wars of Liberation from 1813 to 1815. Moreover, the Bavarian monarch was the driving force behind the “Ludwig-Donau-Main-Kanal” (King Ludwig Canal) that originates in Kelheim.

As a token of gratitude for his cultural legacy, Kelheim’s stonemasons and citizens decided to dedicate a memorial to the king. The statue was made from the famous “Kelheim marble”- a bright stone that Ludwig himself had always appreciated because of the reference to classical architecture. Kelheim marble can be found in many historical Bavarian buildings, such as the “Bayerische Staatsbibliothek” (Bavarian State Library) in Munich, but also the Walhalla near Regensburg. The memorial of King Ludwig I was created by the renowned sculptor Johann von Halbig and unveiled in 1863.

Today, the monument of the king is standing on the Ludwig square just in front of the “Weißes Brauhaus” (White Brewery); a busy spot that many cars and pedestrians are passing. The king wears his coronation robes and holds the architectural plan for the Liberation Hall in his hands. Besides quoting his name and date of death, the inscription in the plinth pays homage to King Ludwig’s character by stating: “Gerecht und beharrlich”. This brief characterization can be translated as “just and persistent” – and both qualities showed during the construction of the Liberation Hall. At that time, the married monarch abdicated due to his scandalous love affair with the Spanish dancer Lola Montez who had interfered with Bavarian politics too much. After a short interruption, the king continued with his ambitious project fully at his own expense in order that the monument could be finished in 1863- right for the fiftieth anniversary of the defeat of Napoleon.

To remember this important person once again, Kelheim in 2018 celebrated the 150th anniversary of King Ludwig’s death. If you follow his dignified gaze up the hill, you will directly look at the Liberation Hall.


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