Christian Zais

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Christian Zais (1770-1820)
Christian Zais (oil on canvas, unknown artist, around 1815)

Christian Zais (born March 4, 1770 in Cannstatt , † April 26, 1820 in Wiesbaden ) was a German architect , Nassau construction clerk and town planner .

After completing an apprenticeship as a stonemason, Zais studied architecture at the Karlsschule in Stuttgart for four years . He was taught by Karl August Friedrich von Duttenhofer and Johann Jakob Atzel . He then continued his education with Friedrich Weinbrenner . In the spring of 1805 he was appointed from Cannstatt as a master builder to Hofheim and already in July as a building inspector from Nassau to Wiesbaden with the support of the Nassau State Minister Ernst Franz Ludwig Freiherr Marschall von Bieberstein , who was also from Württemberg and a graduate of the High Charles School .


Christian Zais was married to Maria Sybilla Josepha Zais, nee Schalch (born May 3, 1770 in Schelklingen , † June 13, 1844 in Wiesbaden), the daughter of Mayor Thaddäus Petrus Julius Schalch . His son Wilhelm Zais studied and did his doctorate in medicine, worked as a liberal politician and member of the Nassau state parliament, he continued to run the hotel "Vier Jahreszeiten" with his mother. Son Eduard Zais became royal building officer, son Friedrich Wilhelm Zais was building inspector in Nassau, he also had two daughters, Emilie and Mathilde. Son Ludwig Zais became a district veterinarian in Langenschwalbach .

Work in Wiesbaden

The Alte Kurhaus in Wiesbaden , built by Zais from 1808 to 1811
The former hotel and bathhouse "Vier Jahreszeiten" (left) and the Zais'sche house (right), on the former Theaterplatz (today: Kaiser-Friedrich-Platz) built by Christian Zais. Postcard around 1900

Christian Zais still shapes the city center of Wiesbaden with his overall planning. In addition, Zais designed and built a number of important buildings in the spa town, namely between 1808 and 1811 the former Altes Kurhaus Wiesbaden (which was replaced by the current building during the Wilhelmine era), in 1813 the Erbprinzenpalais on Wilhelmstrasse (today the Chamber of Commerce and Industry ) as well as the Hotel " Vier Jahreszeiten " , which was destroyed by Allied bombers in February 1945 .

As early as 1806, Christian Zais tried to make the building inexpensive by using Pisé stones . This is how the Gassenbacher Hof zu Idstein was built according to his plans. He also brought in Wilhelm Jakob Wimpf who, like him, was a pupil of Weinbrenner for this building. Also in 1813 there was an announcement to tender for such buildings in the Herzoglich Nassauischen Intellektivenblatt, which shows that this type of inexpensive building was still being promoted. In Niederelbert, several houses were built using the Pisé process and can still be seen today.

In 1818 Zais developed a general development plan for the growing capital, which expanded the "General plan for the enlargement and beautification of the city" presented by Carl Florian Goetz in 1806 . Zais enclosed the historic city center with new streets in the shape of a pentagon (now called the Historisches Pünfeck ) and thus determined the urban development in Wiesbaden until almost the end of the Duchy of Nassau in 1866.

Zais was anything but popular with the people of Wiesbaden at the time. When he came to Wiesbaden in 1805, there was already a modest spa system based on medieval and even Roman traditions, but the city was far from its later reputation as a "world spa town". Wiesbaden had barely 3,000 inhabitants at that time and - apart from the health resort - was mainly agricultural. Due to the newly emerging Nassau administrative seat, the Duke of Nassau expanded his residence in Biebrich ( Biebrich Castle ) into a residential city, often simply ignoring the old rights of the city and its citizens. There were bitter disputes between the city council , which was filled with influential citizens, and the royal house , which was sparked primarily by the town planning, which was thought to be unsuccessful.

Even with his first measure, the construction of the Kurhaus, Zais annoyed the Wiesbaden spa and restaurant owners in particular. Because he deliberately planned the building outside of the then city and the spa center in order to create a distance to the city, which was perceived as dirty and outdated. The new spa center was separated by a wide avenue, today's Wilhelmstrasse . Originally, the construction of the Kurhaus was to be financed by selling shares - but not a single Wiesbaden resident bought even one of the shares. The majority of the “shares” of the Kurhaus were finally taken over by the ruling house.

He particularly annoyed the Wiesbaden innkeepers and bathers with plans for their own gigantic and representative bathhouse for the highest demands on today's Wilhelmstrasse, although this was already planned when the Kurhaus was built. The realization of this original large-scale project failed due to the suspension of state subsidies for new buildings by the Nassau Estates' Assembly in 1818. However, he himself then built the luxurious one, which was completed in 1821 , with the support of Chief Finance Officer Julius Simon von Nördlinger in Stuttgart and his brother, the manufacturer Wilhelm Zais from Cannstatt Hotel and bath house " Four Seasons " with at least 140 rooms. The building almost ruined the Zais family. Seven years after the opening, the family still had debts of over 210,000 guilders , on which 10,485 guilders were to be paid interest. The Wiesbadeners put all conceivable obstacles in the way of the builder. When he wanted to bring a previously hardly used spring to his new bathhouse, the previous lines of the mineral spring were destroyed in an uprising on the night of August 13-14, 1818. The disputes escalated. When Zais later wanted to tap into another source, there were open threats with sheer violence, and the Dillenburg court was finally brought in.

The bathkeepers even tampered with their own sources so that they appeared to run dry, claiming the Zais excavations were responsible. This ultimately led to a riot about which details are not known, but which ended with the destruction of the previous work on the source version and put the Zais family in danger. Meanwhile, Zais fell seriously ill and died before the completion of the "Four Seasons", a few days after the destruction of his canals.

Christian Zais was first buried in the churchyard at the Heidenmauer , after which his body was transferred to the cemetery on Platter Straße in 1832 . His grave no longer exists, his grave slab can only be found as a replica in the wall next to the entrance.

Zais played a key role in establishing Wiesbaden as a spa town with a global reputation. The conflicts between him and the bourgeoisie also reflect the contradictions between supporters of the old law and those of the enlightened, modern principle of the rational, which Zais wanted to implement in the sense of classicism and as a student of Karl.


  • From the old Kurhaus in Wiesbaden , which was demolished in 1904 , only two columns have survived, which are located on the "Nizzaplätze" in the Kurpark . A crystal chandelier attributed to Zais from the old Kurhaus is now at the choir entrance of the Union Church in Idstein .

From Zais' works are preserved:

Zais' engineering structures also include:

  • the source version of the "Great Kisselborn", which was rediscovered in 2009 between Platte and Rabengrund . It is part of the planning submitted by Zais in 1812 for the Wiesbaden water supply, which was originally started to feed a fountain planned by him on the bowling green .


  • Wilhelm Sauer:  Zais, Christian . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 44, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1898, pp. 674-676.
  • Berthold Bubner: Christian Zais in his time (1770-1820). Wiesbaden 1993, OCLC 180659333 .
  • Clemens Weiler: Johann Christian Zais 1770–1820. In: Karl Wolf (Ed. On behalf of the Historical Commission Nassau): Nassauische Lebensbilder. 1955.
  • Heinz Hildner: Wiesbaden residential buildings of the classical period, with a comparative consideration of the model buildings in southwest German residential cities 17th – 19th centuries. Century. Dissertation. L. Schellenberg'sche Hofdruckerei, Wiesbaden 1931.

Web links

Commons : Christian Zais  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Friedrich Weinbrenner: Memories from his life, written by himself, edited and accompanied by an appendix by Dr. Aloys Schreiber, Heidelberg, printed and published by Georg Reichard 1829
  2. ^ Sigrid Russ, State Office for the Preservation of Monuments Hesse (ed.): Cultural monuments in Hesse, Volume II - The villa areas. P. 17.
  3. ^ State and address handbook of the Duchy of Nassau for the year 1840, Schellenberg'sche Hofbuchdruckerei, Wiesbaden 1840, p. 140. [1]
  4. Karl Heinz Striedter: Clay architecture in Weilbgurg an der Lahn.
  5. Wolfgang Fritsche: House building and government action in the Nassau parts of the country from 1465 to 1866. Dissertation. Verlag VDG, Weimar 1997, ISBN 3-932124-24-3 .
  6. ^ Wilhelm Schick: The Pisébau at Weilburg on the Lahn. 2nd revised edition. Citizens' initiative "Alt Weilburg" e. V.
  7. Schick, s. there
  8. ^ Wolf Heino Struck: Wiesbaden Biedermeier. Franz Steiner Verlag, Wiesbaden 1981.
  9. Faithful representation of the fable of the disappearance of the hot springs in Wiesbaden. Supplement to Nro. 134 of the Mainzer Zeitung. November 7, 1820.
  10. ^ H. Bremme: Later triumph. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. May 27, 1995, p. 46.
  11. Sigrid Russ, State Office for the Preservation of Monuments Hesse (ed.): Cultural monuments in Hesse, Volume I.1 - Historical Pentagon. P. 391.
  12. Gerhard Eimer: Sources on the political iconography of the Romantic period: Stein's Tower in Nassau, Frankfurter Fundamente der Kunstgeschichte. Volume 2, Art History Institute of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University; Sulpiz Boisserée, Diaries, Eduard Roether Verlag, Darmstadt, 1978.
  13. Martin Lauth: Nassauische Annalen 2011, Wiesbaden - City of Water. Pp. 29-30.
  14. Martin Lauth: On the origins of the Nassau water supply for the city of Wiesbaden . In: Yearbooks of the Nassau Association for Natural History 134, Wiesbaden 2013, pp. 117–136.


  1. Boisserée noted in his diary on August 6, 1815: Zais plagued me all morning with the tower he was building for Stein in Nassau. I have to say, God forbid you don't become a house builder - the best has to be a botch in front of all the demands that people make. But what should I think of a gentleman who erects a massive octagonal tower, wedging it between two modern buildings as a connection and again closure of the house and the farm buildings; and now 2 bathrooms and a small hall are to be installed in the tower, which has 22 m of light. The hall should be able to be used for dining, Wellington and Blücher and the Allied busts should be placed in it made of marble, and in winter it should serve as an orangery! An archive is also still required, but no advice can be found in the room. Then upstairs there is a study room, which can be pretty, and above it an octagonal one, which is supposed to be the archive, also serve as sleeping cabinets when many strangers come - the woman from the house would like to have it - etc.