Heidelberg Castle

Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History

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[ source: Wikipedia]

"A ruin must be rightly situated, to be effective. This one could not have been better placed. It stands upon a commanding elevation, it is buried in green woods, there is no level ground about it, but, on the contrary, there are wooded terraces upon terraces, and one looks down through shining leaves into profound chasms and abysses where twilight reigns and the sun cannot intrude. Nature knows how to garnish a ruin to get the best effect... Misfortune has done for this old tower what it has done for the human character sometimes−improved it." (Mark Twain on Heidelberg (Heidelberg vacation rentals | Heidelberg travel guide) Castle)

Considered by many to be the most famous castle ruin in Europe, Heidelberg Castle is still one of the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. Located on Koenigstuhl Hill above the historic city center, the oldest castle structure dates from the early 1200s, and it was expanded to two castles in 1294. Heidelberg Castle is not a unified structure, unlike many other castles in Germany; instead, it is a conglomerate of building projects pursued by the Paltinate ruling family over the centuries. The castle was, however, never really completed, as it went into decline fairly early in its history. In 1537, a lightning strike set the upper castle on fire. Although repairs and then further expansion were executed in the mid-seventeenth century, another lightning strike in 1764 destroyed some of the rebuilt sections. Besides natural disasters, further damage was wrought during the wars that waged in this area, including the Thirty Years' War and the Nine Years' War.

Due to the relocation of the ruling family to Mannheim (Mannheim vacation rentals | Mannheim travel guide) and later Munich (Munich vacation rentals | Munich travel guide), Heidelberg Castle became increasingly less important. By the 1780s, the complex was being used as a quarry for building materials used in other castle projects around the region. The site soon became a famous romantic ruin, painted evocatively by various artists, most notably J.M.W. Turner. Heidelberg Castle's increasing importance as a tourist destination in the early 1800s was facilitated by the first efforts to restore and stabilize the castle by the French Count Charles de Graimberg, starting in 1810. A partial restoration of the site was pursued in 1900. Over the past 40 years, the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg has invested the equivalent of 40 million Marks in the stabilization and promotion of its most famous ruin.

Besides continuing to attract tourists because of its romantic appearance, Heidelberg Castle also offers an array of events. Special lectures, musical evenings, and living history programs are geared towards adults, while an array of programs for children are also promoted. There are also spaces in the castle that can be rented for parties, banquets, and conferences. Furthermore, the Heidelberg Castle Festival attracts visitors to his open air concerts, operas, and musicals.

[ source: wikipedia.org ]



About this Article

Rachel Hildebrandt

This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.

Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).

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Location, Map, and Driving Directions

Location: Schloss 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany

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