Having studied chemistry decades ago and having worked in this business for almost a quarter of a century I was and still am fascinated by pharmaceutical and chemical history. This is why I always end up in the German Pharmacy Museum on Heidelberg’s castle ground. But with its large fine historical collection of all kinds of pharmacies, equipment and explanatory showcases, I consider it a must for every visitor of Heidelberg's castle. Plus the entrance to the museum is included in the basic entrance ticket to the castle.
The superior collection is shown via a historical walkway through the days of pharmacy. It is housed in Heidelberg Castle since 1958 (before that it was located in Munich). In several rooms, four old pharmacists’ shops (called “Offizin”) of 18th and 19th century are being displayed. Then there is a large collection of the several working materials (vessels, mortars, instruments, lab equipment), nicely arranged in an old vault. An additional room is the “herb kitchen” where herbs used for medical purposes were processed. One room shows magnificent emblems of old pharmacists’ shops. The core of the museum for me is the so-called ”materia medica”, a room with showcases of every substance which had a curing value, arranged according to the origin: from animals, plants and minerals (materia medica = “medical materials”).
Photo 1: part of the showcases, which plants have been used as medical treatment,
Photo 2: an old “Offizin” of early 18th century,
Photo 3: an old travel pharmacy of 17th century,
Photo 4: the vault with old equipment,
Photo 5: herbal plant processing (sorry for the very blurry image!).
At the end of the tour is a little shop with very nice and special gifts in connection to pharmacy. My most favourite gift is a tiny mortar (gilded or brass) which I often bought for colleagues who are chemists of pharmacists.
In the off-path section I once added details about the exhibits and rooms of the museum. However, I will likely transfer these into travelogues and remove the photos because they are quite old and not of the best quality. I will receive directive from the museum administrators hopefully soon.
April - October: daily, 10:00 – 18:00,
November - March: daily, 10:00-17:30
There is no extra admission for the museum because entry is included in the basic ticket price for the castle courtyard.
The museum has an excellent website, also in English, including an extensive virtual tour.
Update, December 2008:
See Christine’s review for an exciting feature for kids in the museum.
© Ingrid D., 2006; update Sept. 2013: wording only.
(The Kurpfalz today describes the original "Pfalz" region of the roman empire, with Heidelberg as its capital)
This museum covers an impressive array of exhibits, including Archaeology (7 rooms covering over 1,500 square metres), Heidelberg's own history as a roman settlement & modern city, artistic sculptures & paintings from the 16th - 17th century, as well as an educational corner for children (I remember this from my school years...)
Another interesting fact about the museum's building is that it was built in 1712, and Maximilian Joseph von Chelius lived here from 1830-1876: He was a German eye surgeon that founded the first surgical clinic that immensely boosted the future of the medical faculty in Heidelberg University.
My mother and I weren't really in the mood for the museum on our last visit to the city, but we visited to relax with some lunch & coffee in the gorgeous courtyard garden, where you can escape the crowds (and in summer, escape the heat of the main street... see my "off the beaten path" tip)
The current exhibit was titled "Die Kurpfaelzer", depicting the lives & culture of my ancestors in the Heidelberg region (see photo... they weren't exactly attractive... haha!) and for many people in my area, our pride & joy is the copy of the lower jaw of the Homo erectus Heidelbergensis = The Heidelberg Man: this "newly discovered human ancestor" was discovered in 1907 in Mauer (near Heidelberg) and is said to have lived between 250,000 and 600,000 years ago all over Europe.
Opening Hours 2007: daily 10:00am - 06:00pm (Mondays closed)
Admission: Adults 3 EURO (students / senior citizens: 1,80 EURO)
Sundays: Adults 1,80 EURO (students / senior citizens: 1,20 EURO)
is worth visiting in Heidelberg. If you are interested in some background information, some archaeology and history of the city and the castle, go to the Kurpfälzische Museum.
Many people pass it, as the entrance is through a gate on main street.The gate opens into a small yard, with a reconstruction of the Four-Gods-Stone of Ladenburg in the centre. Tickets are bought in the building on the left, but the main entrance is straight ahead.
Something to look out for are the special exhibitions. Some time ago there was an excellent one about the Winterking, unlucky Frederic V of Heidelberg, whose love for his wife was greater than his prudence and eventually lost him the crown.
In December 2007 there was an exhibition about Christmas 100 years ago. Lovely toys,old advent calendars, letters to Santa Claus, old Christmas ornaments - it was a beautiful exhibition. It also showed me that Christmas must have been a wonderful time back then, provided you were born into the right family among the top 5 % of the people.
Apart from history the museum also shows paintings and silverware, fine china and some furniture from the princes' daily life.
In the Ottheinrich Palace building in the castle, the pharmacy museum has been since the 1950s when it moved here from Munich and then Bamberg after WWII. It has as its aim to show the history of pharmacies and has a huge collection which shows everything from vessels to the drugs themselves and also several pharmacy interiors from different times. As this was not what the 8-year-old wanted to do, having already trailed around the castle, we gave it a miss this time, but have a look at Trekki's Heidelberg page to see much more.
Located within Heidelberg Castle, is the GERMAN PHARMACY MUSEUM or Deutches Apotheken Museum. As the entrance fee is included with your ticket for the Schloss, Jessica took us all inside this wonderful museum. There was a display of a Pharmacist's Shop of the early 19th century, along with an exceptional collection of drugs used during the 17th to the 19th century. More than 1000 exhibits of materials, including long forgotten "miracle cures" and showcases of materials of medical value "materia Medica".
There was also a "Lab" on display.
Overall it was very interesting and worth the visit.
On the lower floor of the Otto Heinrich Building , is the Apothecary Museum.
This unique museum shows visitors about the history of the pharmacy and of dispensaries. The collection includes a complete pharmacist’s office, a laboratory, manuscripts, a wide variety of vessels, mortars, and technical flasks, and lots of raw drugs representing medicine from the 17th to 19th centuries.
It is indeed a worthwhile visit. Located in the castle grounds the entrance fee to the castle allows entry to this museum.
Built in 1712, same year as the Jesuit Church, is this Palais Morass (note how palace is spelt the French way in this region rather than in German) which was built for the University chancellor (imagine the importance of this post in the city!). Pride of place takes a copy of the lower jaw of a 600 000 year old "Homo erectus Heidelbergensis" which was found outside Heidelberg in 1907, but there are also great 16th century art as well as a lot of art from the Romantic period which of course was big in Heidelberg. Costumes and porcelain are als on display and there is a separate section on Heidelberg history from Roman days and onwards. Even if you won't visit the museum, I recommend that you visit the little garden as it is a really tranquil place.
We never had time for this docu-centre ourselves but I really want to mention it as it deals with the way that Roma and Sinti people (often bunched together under the name of "gypsies") have been treated in Germany, and especially during the nazi period when they were sent to camps. It also tells of the differences between the two and deals with prejudices around them. If you are into the social- and cultural history of Europe, this would probably be very interesting, although their homepage is in German only and I don't know what languages are represented in the exhibitions. If you DO understand German, there are also lectures now and again on various themes.
As soon as I found my self in Heidelberg I noticed that every second store there is a pharmacy. Are people that live there really that sick? :-)
Right at the castle you'll find the pharmacy museum, which is actually very interesting, and definitely worth a visit.
The "Kurpfalz" area around Heidelberg became a separate entity in the Middle Ages with a significance disproportional to its size, military power or economic strength as the local ruler became duke elector (one of the few nobles in charge with electing the Emperor of the Holy Roman German Empire).
The decline of the "Kurpfalz" began with the involvement of the local ruler in the devastating 30 Years War 1618 - 1648 and took another blow shortly afterwards when the French sacked the city of Heidelberg in the late 17th century and destroyed the castle.
If you are interested in the volatile history of the area, this interesting museum offers comprehensive information.
In the green Weimar Palace building, the Portheim Foundation of Science and the Fine Arts has its collection open to the public as an Ethnographical Museum. Originally, the collections included a lot more than ethnography but the palace was plundered during WWII and collections of minerals and religious icons amongst other things disappeared and were sold. The museum is closed Mondays.
If you read all the information in the museum you will be an expert of the history of German pharmacy and of special ingredients for medicaments.
The interiors of different old pharmacies are wonderful.
The German Pharmacy Museum is housed in the "Ottheinrichsbau" of the Heidelberg castle.
There are several complete old pharmacy shops on display, together with many ancient tools and more. Also an old medicin lab is on full display. Futhermore there's a shop with many items for sale.
The late 18th century saw the establishment of a students’ prison at the rear of the Old University, now a tourist attraction. Earlier, students were subject to the jurisdiction of their universities and special jails were set up for them, still in use in the early 20th century.
Admission is free with the Heidelberg Card. See Heidelberg Card tip in General info.
The University Museum is a window on the history of the University of Heidelberg. The spectrum of the three-room exhibition ranges from the foundation in 1386 to the 20 th century. The wide variety of exhibits illustrate the grand tradition of the University.
Admission is free with the Heidelberg Card. (See my General Information tips.)