A Doric portico marks the way into the square building. The decor of the chapel matches the simple exterior. The coffins were lowered through the oval floor opening in the centre of the room. Clemens Wenzeslaus Coudray, architect and chief director of works in Saxe-Weimar and Eisenach, was responsible for the construction of the ducal vault. In 1824, once the work on the dome had finished, the rescued coffins of the ducal family after the city palace burnt down in 1774 were transferred to the ducal vault.
The first burial in the vault was the presumed remains of Friedrich Schiller on December 16, 1827. Only in 2008 it could be proved as part of a research project that the relicts supposedly belonged to Schiller actually came from several people and are not authentic. Friedrich Schiller's coffin is therefore currently empty. On March 26, 1832, Johann Wolfgang Goethe's remains were interred next to Schiller's sarcophagus.