Castle/Schloss, Heidelberg

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  • Castle/Schloss
    by GracesTrips
  • biggest wine barrel in the world !!!!!
    biggest wine barrel in the world !!!!!
    by jlanza29
  • great views of the old town
    great views of the old town
    by jlanza29
  • Trekki's Profile Photo

    Heidelberg's Castle – the highlight of a visit

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    Heidelberg Castle - from the Old Bridge
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    Heidelberg and its castle had a long and troublesome history. That is why we can see only a part of the castle’s former glory today – but for me this even adds to its charm, during all seasons.

    The castle is located on the hills south of town and quite easy accessible by foot (303 steps uphill) or by funicular.

    After picking up your admission tickets at the uphill entrance, you will enter the castle through the main gate tower with it’s massive trap-door. Look up, it looks quite dangerous. Then you arrive in the courtyard. From there you will see all the major buildings:
    Ruprechtsbau and King’s Hall to your left (west), Friedrichsbau straight ahead (north) and Ottheinrichsbau to your right (east).

    With the simple admission ticket you can walk around in the courtyard, visit the big wine barrel, the huge terrace overlooking the city and Neckar River.

    But I highly recommend that you also visit the German Pharmacy Museum and also book yourself on a guided tour through the castle's interior , because only then you will learn about the fascinating history of castle and town.

    Opening hours: 08:00 - 18:00 (throughout the whole year)
    Admission: 6 € (for funicular, courtyard, wine barrel and Pharmacy Museum)
    (Prices as of 2013).

    © Ingrid D., 2006.

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    Guided tour (4): Friedrichsbau

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    Friedrichsbau - southern fa��ade
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    During the guided tour we leave the King’s Hall building and go through the courtyard into Friedrichsbau, which is the only building that was rebuilt after the destructions in mid 18th century following lightning and fire. Keep in mind that most of the interior – ceilings, doors, floors, furniture, etc was made of wood, so there is not much of the former interior left in the building. All you see during the tour was either rebuilt (ceilings, wall paintings, doors, windows) or collected from different sources (furniture and decoration).

    Prince Elector Friedrich IV had Friedrichsbau built between 1601 and 1607. The southern façade, the one facing the courtyard, shows the ancestral gallery of Noble House of Wittelsbach to which Friedrich IV belonged in the four main rows. On top of the roof are statues of Spring (to the left / west) and Summer (to the right / east) and Justice in the middle.

    Due to destruction by air pollution, the statues on the façade are copies today. The originals are displayed inside of Friedrichsbau. But this makes it even easier to have a closer look at the statues and admire the sophisticated artwork of sandstone carving.

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

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    Guided tour (3): King’s Hall & gateway to the vat

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    The pump - to the wine barrel :-) (hicks)

    The King's Hall is located in what was formerly the Women's Quarters. These were destroyed by fire during the War of Palatinate Succession in 1689.

    The hall is the castle’s biggest room today; 34 m long, 16,7 m wide and 7,4 m high. It now provides space for nearly 500 visitors during elegant houses events and theatre performances. It can also be booked for private occasions.

    Next to the hall is the kitchen servants’ room with very important equipment: the pump to the big vat or wine barrel. This barrel is located in the room below. It is said that the daily consumption of wine during the castle heydays life was around 2000 litres! But on the other hand, wine or alcohol in general was the only “safe” liquid those days, considering that water usually was rotten and contaminated with dirt and bacteria.

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

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    "The only way is up" - Castle Path / Burgweg

    by JessH Updated Aug 25, 2010

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    The
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    History teaches us that the best fortresses & castles have always been built on a steep slope for military purposes. This made it difficult for the enemy to approach, and easier for the castle to defend itself (we all know of archers and the horror-stories of pouring molten-hot tar on the enemy, etc...) Heidelberg Castle is no exception.

    There are 3 ways of getting to the castle:
    a) take the "Burgweg" (=castle path). A steep cobbled path starting at the Kornmarkt (my favourite way to walk)
    b) take the stairs (over 300 steps)
    c) take the Funicular.

    WALKING is of course the healthiest & most traditional option... and just when you think you're about to collapse, imagine ascending this steep path every day in full knight's armour! Wear comfortable shoes and enjoy the sense of achievement when you've reached the top :-)

    The FUNICULAR railway line is 489 metres long & at its steepest point has a 43% gradient. The 2 split-level cars each carry 50 people & travels at about 4 metres per second.
    --> In 2007 the railway line celebrates its 100th birthday!
    --> For fabulous details on the history & legends of the castle, visit my friend Trekki's Heidelberg page!

    --> Click here for Waalewiener's video of the funicular railway to the castle (June 2008)

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    The Great Terrace of Friedrichsbau

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    Friedrichsbau (north) and Bell Tower
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    Leave the courtyard now to the north – through the tiny alley on the right (eastern) side of Friedrichsbau and step out onto the Great Terrace. The northern façade of Friedrichsbau has recently been renovated and the golden statues and ornaments are glowing and shining in the sun. However, it is not decorated with any statues as it is the case on the southern façade.

    Friedrich IV had the terrace built as a panorama terrace. The view from here is magnificent. I still smile when I think of the huge eyes my former colleagues and customers made when seeing this panorama during our castle visits. The terrace is flanked by the Women's Quarter and the building of the Great Vat on the western side and the Hall of Mirrors on the other side.

    In the middle of the terrace, towards the building, there is something rather mysterious: a footprint in the soft sandstone. Many legends about this footprint are being narrated. When I was a kid my parents told me that a prisoner, during a court hearing held in the upper floor of Friedrichsbau, just jumped out of the window to escape. Another story says that it was a knight, who jumped out in full armour during the big fire, a variation of this legend says, he jumped out of the bedroom of his mistress who was married to the Prince Elector :-) And another one says that it was Friedrich IV himself, who jumped on the terrace when drunk.
    Choose yourself which you believe :-)

    On a side note:
    The section below the Great Terrace is also the point where you arrive when you take the second path to the castle, called “Burgweg”.

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

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    The Bell Tower

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    HD Castle - the Bell Tower (north side)
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    From the terrace visitors can see the remains of the Bell Tower. Once it must have been a beautiful building, given the castle model in Ruprechtsbau. It was somehow the slender counterpart to the Thick Tower in the northwest.

    Bell Tower was originally built early 15th century, remodelled over the years. It served as residential quarters. As the name implies it was equipped with a big bell in the castle heydays.

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

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    Guided tour (1): Ruprechtbau and outside of it

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    Where they have powdered their noses :-)
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    Ruprechtsbau is the first station of the guided tour. As mentioned earlier, Prince Elector Ruprecht III had it built 1400 ff. Only the lower basement rooms exist today, the upper ones have been left destructed.

    Once inside the building, in the rooms on the left side is a permanent exhibition about the Palatine until the days of Reformation. On the right hand side is the room with the already mentioned castle models and some coats of arms of the Prince Electors.

    The tour continues to the outside, to what is left of the Library Building. From there, you have wonderful views to the west part of the castle’s moat, the destroyed English Building, the Thick Tower and the Elisabeth Gate.

    A funny detail are the toilets of the old days: simple oriels, built into the walls. The “residues” were collected and – in case of an enemy attack – spilled over the enemies with help of a little trap door. The one and only Monty Python have used this to illustrate the rough customs of knight ship in their famous movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail: in the “French Taunting” scene where Artus tries to enter a castle which was occupied by the French, the French open the “toilet” doors.

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

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    Guided tour (2): English Building & Thick Tower

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    English Building and Thick Tower
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    When Prince Elector Friedrich V married Elisabeth Stuart of England, he had built English Building and Elisabeth Gate for her early 17th century. The English Building was destroyed during the War of the Great Alliance and never rebuilt thereafter. On its left (northern) side the Thick Tower served as a bastion. It has a diameter of 28 m and a wall thickness of 7 m!
    During the heydays of the castle, the upper floor of the tower housed a theatre for Elisabeth Stuart.

    Photo 1: English Building and the Thick Tower,
    Photo 2: the remnants of the Library Building,
    Photo 3: stair entrance to the English Building, which we will enter, but then turn right (to the east) into the Hall of Mirrors and the former Women's Quarter.

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

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    An Exhibition about medieval times in the castle

    by christine.j Updated Mar 18, 2008

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    R2D2??

    An exhibition is being prepared about life at the castle in the middle ages. It is supposed to be open in 2007 but a few items are already on display. Apart from written contracts and cannon balls, you can see two full armours, which the knights had to wear.

    These items are in the Ruprechtsbau, the first door to the left. When you buy a ticket for the guided tour and have some time left, you can go in and look around.

    update 2008:
    The exhibition has been opened and is worth a short visit, either before the guided tour or afterwards. You need a ticket for the guided tour to go there. I tried to buy a ticket just for this exhibition and the romantic paintings. Apparently I was the first person to ask for this, as nobody could tell me if it was possible. In the end they decided that a ticket for the guided tour is needed, even if you want to skip the tour.

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    The Castle – and some history

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    Model of Heidelberg Castle - before 1764

    Heidelberg’s castle was built as a fortress around 1220, by the dukes of Bavaria. Heidelberg as a village however did not grow before 15th century, when the Counts Palatine (Pfalzgrafen) got the right to name their Prince Elector (Kurfürst). Prince Elector Rupert III became King of Germany and started to built the Ruprechtsbau and other buildings; Ruprechtsbau is considered to be the oldest building on the castle ground. In the following years continuous expansion took place to transform the castle into a modern fortress.

    In 1537, lightning destroyed the upper castle.

    In mid 16th century Prince Elector Friedrich II decided to transform the fortress into a representative residence. Ottheinrichsbau was built in 1556 and it is considered the first Renaissance palace in Germany. Then followed Friedrichsbau (1601) and the English Building (1614); the latter by Friedrich V, husband of Elisabeth Stuart. Friedrich’s granddaughter, Elisabeth Charlotte (nicknamed Liselotte von der Pfalz) married a brother of Sun King Louis XIV of France. When her brother, Charles II, Elector of Palatinate, died without heir in 1685, Louis XIV raised a claim upon Elisabeth Charlotte’s heritage, the Palatinate, and started the War of Palatinate Succession. The results were devastating for Palatinate: many towns were destroyed in 1688/89, among these Heidelberg and the much of its castle.

    1697, Heidelberg’s expelled inhabitants returned to their town and started to rebuild town and castle. Another lightning, followed by a big fire, destroyed the castle again in 1764.

    Rebuilding was not continued, because in the meantime Charles III Philipp, Elector Palatinate, decided to transfer his residence to Mannheim. This due to religious debates between Catholics and Protestants over the Church of the Holy Spirit.

    The castle remained a ruin, until early 19th century French emigrant Charles de Graimberg recognized it as a romantic ruin and protected it. Renovation plans never exceeded the rebuilding of Friedrichsbau though.

    I can only highly recommend booking a guided tour through the castle. The tour starts in Ruprechtsbau. In one of its rooms nearby the entrance are excellent models of the castle during the several construction phases. My photo shows the model of the years before 1764. Especially the vast garden – Hortus Palatinus – is shown nicely in the model.

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

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    Guided tour (5): ceilings inside Friedrichsbau

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    Ceiling - 2nd floor of Friedrichsbau
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    Once inside Friedrichsbau, the tour leads to the first floor. The ground floor is occupied by the castle’s chapel, which can be visited at the end of the tour. The hallway in the first floor is beautifully renovated with oak inlay doors in Renaissance style and even more beautiful lockers (see next review).

    The ceiling in the first floor is of beautiful wooden waffle grid style (photo 4). The one in the second floor it is a vault stucco ceiling with several coat of arms of Palatinate (photos 1 and 2).

    The third photo shows again a vault stucco ceiling, but this one is in one of the adjacent rooms in the second floor, the so-called Green Room.

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

    My photos are from 2006 when photography was still allowed during the guided tour inside of the castle. This is no longer the case since approx. 2010. In September 2013 I asked castle administration what to do with my photos and they kindly granted permission that I keep them in my three reviews because I didn’t take photos of the paintings. These are loan collections hence private and fall under copyright of the owners.
    Thank you, castle administration!

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    Guided tour (6): rooms inside Friedrichsbau

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    The White Room - in Friedrichsbau
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    The adjoining rooms in the first and second floor of Friedrichsbau have also been renovated early 20th century and equipped with furniture of the respective periods, kindly donated by various people.

    These rooms are called White and Green Room and Fireplace Room.

    The ceiling of the Green Room I already showed in the previous review. In addition this room also contains two beautifully and richly manufactured tiled stoves (photos 3 – 5). They were fired from the alley, through special doors.

    The White Room (photo 1) is equipped with Neo-Renaissance furniture in the style of a dining room.

    The Fireplace Room finally, with furniture of Historism style, was meant for relaxing.

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

    My photos are from 2006 when photography was still allowed during the guided tour inside of the castle. This is no longer the case since approx. 2010. In September 2013 I asked castle administration what to do with my photos and they kindly granted permission that I keep them in my three reviews because I didn’t take photos of the paintings. These are loan collections hence private and fall under copyright of the owners.
    Thank you, castle administration!

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    The marvelous façade of Ottheinrichsbau

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    Ottheinrichsbau (right)

    The guided tour ends with a visit of the castle’s chapel and brings the vistor back into the courtyard. On the right hand (to the east) is the beautiful Renaissance façade of Ottheinrichsbau.

    This building war constructed under Prince Elector Otto Heinrich in 1556-1559 and is said to be the first Renaissance palace on German ground. The building was destroyed during the lightning and big fire in 1764 and was never rebuilt.

    However, I liked that only the skeleton of the western façade is left and that the building was not restored: the open holes of the windows, the blue sky and some white clouds make it a very beautiful sight. In my opinion it is one of the best photo opportunities within the castle courtyard.

    The façade comes to life with the blue sky in between. On four levels, it shows 16 allegoric statues, reflecting Otto Heinrich’s idea of ruling :
    The lower level displays the symbols of political power (left to right):
    Joshua, Samson, Hercules and David;
    On the second level are the virtues of an emperor:
    Strength, faith, love, hope, justice;
    On the third level it is the deities of planets and weekdays:
    Saturn, Mars, Venus, Merkur and Moon,
    And finally, on top of the wall:
    Sun and Jupiter.

    Best to be photographed in the afternoon (with the sun in the back).

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

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    The Blown Tower

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    Exploded Tower and the blown-off wall
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    The Blown Tower, or Krautturm, as it was once called because cabbage was stored here, was built in 15th century as the bastion to the south-eastern side of the castle ground. The walls are 6 m thick, and, in addition of being storage for cabbage, it used to be the storage for the regent’s gunpowder. And that is the reason why it was so badly destroyed during the War of the Palatinate Succession end of 17th century. The exploding gunpowder simply blew off part of the wall, which then slid into the moat and was left there.

    Many years ago the Blown Tower looked quite romantic, with moss and ivy growing on the walls. But these have been removed because they enhance the destruction of the rock.

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

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    The Castle Garden - Hortus Palatinus

    by Trekki Updated Sep 26, 2013

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    View of the castle - from the castle garden
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    Between 1616-1619, Prince Elector Friedrich V, who was married to Elisabeth Stuart, commissioned the beautiful castle garden, or Hortus Palatinus (Palatinate garden) built southeast of the castle ground.

    The garden has been built on three levels: the small lower terrace, the main terrace (which is the one, visitors will arrive at when leaving the castle via the main entrance), and the upper garden with large artificial grottos.

    Although it was never finished as planned, it still is a beautiful French style Baroque garden. At one point in history time it was even considered to be the 8th world wonder.

    The garden was filled with herbs and vegetables, as well as beautiful trees, among them some very rare ones. Most of them survived until now and make the garden a beautiful place to walk around. The views of the castle and the city are also splendid from here. Benches invite for a rest.

    Don’t miss to walk up to the upper terrace and enter the big grottos: they have been beautifully styled inside, with little fountains.

    The website of Heidelberg’s castle below is in German only, but it gives you a nice view of how the garden should have been laid according to the original plans.

    © Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.

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