Visit the most romantic castle in Heidelberg

Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History

Heidelberg Castle on the hill
Heidelberg Castle on the hill

[ source: Wikipedia]

The Heidelberger Schloss, as it is called in German language, is situated high above the River Neckar. It is very famous in Germany and the landmark of the city of Heidelberg. They are a must see for any visitor, not only because the castle ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps.

The Heidelberg (Heidelberg vacation rentals | Heidelberg travel guide) Castle is located 260 ft up the northern part of the Königstuhl hillside, and clearly dominates the romantic view of the old downtown. The first representative building as a regal residence in the inner courtyard was erected by Prince Elector Ruprecht III (1398 - 1410). Opposite to the Ruprecht Building the Fountain Hall, another regal building was added. The Prince Electors of the 16th and 17th century turned the fortress into a castle and added two representative palace buildings to the complex. The two dominant buildings at the eastern and northern side of the courtyard were erected during the rule of Ottheinrich (1556 - 1559) and Friedrich IV (1583 - 1610). Today, they are considered to be two of the most important buildings in German architectural history. Under Friedrich V (1613 - 1619), the main building of the west side was erected, the so called English Building.

During the 30 Years' War the castle and its garden were destroyed, later rebuilt by Prince Elector Karl Ludwig (1649 - 1680), only to be destroyed again by French troops. Then, Prince Elector Karl Theodor who resided in Schwetzingen (Schwetzingen vacation rentals | Schwetzingen travel guide), tried to restore the castle to make it inhabitable once again, but in vain. Lightning struck the Castle in 1764. In the centuries that followed, the Castle was misused as a quarry - castle stones helped to build new houses in Heidelberg. This was stopped in 1800 by Count Charles de Graimberg, who made any effort he could to preserve the Heidelberg Castle. In spite of its Gothic interior it was not before 1934, that the King's Hall was added. Today, the hall is used for festivities, dinner banquets, balls and theater performances.

Have a look at the worldwide biggest Wine Barrel, the Great Vat! The first big barrel in the cellar of Heidelberg Castle was built in 1591. Today's tourist attraction, the barrel built in 1751, is even bigger: More than nine yards long and eight yards high, it has a capacity of 55,345 gallons of wine. In former times, the wine growers had to pay their share of taxes by delivering wine to the castle.

The Castle Gardens

In former times, the geometrically designed terraces of a Renaissance garden stood out against the wooded background of the Heidelberg Castle. Before the 30 Years' War, contemporaries even considered the Hortus Palatinus as being the Eighth Wonder of the World. In the south-east corner of the garden, you will find the remains of the Great Grotto. Rocks were blown up to create this romantic grotto, displaying musical water arts. The walls were abundantly decorated with rare polished stones, shells and corals. Left of the grotto, a pond contains the enormous sandstone sculpture of a resting Father Rhine. A monumental dimension is added to the Castle Gardens while strolling on the Great Terrace and enjoying the wonderful view of the Castle's east front rising dark into the sky as well as a view of the Rhine Valley. Before you leave the castle, visit the remarkable Pharmacy Museum.

During the Heidelberg Castle Festival in the summer, the courtyard and now also the castle garden is the site of open air musicals, operas and theater performances and classical concerts such as the famous Castle Serenades performed by the Heidelberg City Orchestra.

[ source: ]

About this Article

Monika Petra

This travel guide has been written by Monika Petra.

In her own words: When children are born they receive certain gifts to put them to good use or not. In my cradle there must have been at least music and the curiosity for the world we live in. Luckily I could combine those gifts eventually. My live as a jazz vocalist guided me to see and experience many places in Germany and far beyond. As in my music I like to dive in the historical background of given facts, simply to understand the present. During my travel, my circles got wider and wider and since many years I am now living in Thailand, very interesting to say the least. I grew up in Paderborn, lived and studied Jazz in Cologne's Musikhochschule and worked a while in Bayreuth and Kulmbach. My travels throughout Germany took me to all major cities and small towns. It was the people and local differences, be it language, food, traditions and customs, which made it a lot of fun. When finally the wall came down, I was one of those in Berlin posing on the rests of it for the camera. Off course I took the first opportunity to rediscover the new but old states of Germany and finally understood the impact the wall had on all Germans and in regards to the worst part in German history. Being a German living abroad, I discovered in years what I value most about Germany. Rest assured it is a country of rich cultural background still alive today. I visit my home country regularly and stay in touch with my friends, even those back from school. Another thing I always felt passionate about is writing and sharing my experience and thoughts. The internet provides us all with a great opportunity to connect, tell stories, read and learn from others and grow as a global community.

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Location, Map, and Driving Directions

Location: Im Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany

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Tip for 2010: This year the admission to the Castle Yard, Great Vat and German Pharmacy Museum will only cost 5 EUR - it is a COMBINED TICKET, including the 2-way funicular railway ride, starting/ending at the Kornmarkt in Heidelberg. No admission fee for the castle's garden.

Opening Hours

  • Courtyard 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM (last entry: 5:30 PM)
  • Big Vat 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM (last entry: 5:50 PM)
  • Pharmacy Museum 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM (last entry: 5:10 PM)

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