Heidelberg Castle’s fate was closely intertwined with that of the Electors of
Palatine (a historical area in Germany within the Holy Roman Empire that had
influence in the election of the Holy Roman Emperor). The castle grew in
terms of buildings, wealth and stature as the Palatine Electors became
central players in the political scene of the time.
Ruprecht III, one of the Palatine Electors, became king of the German Empire
(The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation) in 1400. Ruprecht and his
successor Ludwig V were responsible for converting Heidelberg Castle into a
princely residence. A number of their successors added to or
modified the structure. In the early 17th century the Hortus Palatinus, the
garden complex next to the palace, was created and became an item of
considerable acclaim, even being billed at the time as the "Eighth Wonder of the World."
Later in the 17th century, the Castle became a flashpoint between the
of the Habsburgs and the desires of the French monarch when Karl II died childless in
1685. As fate would have it, the Imperial troops of the Empire were embroiled in battle
with the Turks to the east and the French were able to besiege, capture and
destroy parts of the Castle in 1689. However, the castle was taken for
a second time by the French in
1693 and it was at this point that the French attempted to demolish as much
of it as possible.
In the 18th century the center of political power in Germany was
transitioned to Bavaria (Munich) and the Wittlesbach dynasty.
During this transition, Schloss Heidelberg fell out of favor. It
was also around this time that a severe lighting storm damaged several
of the buildings at the castle, as well as igniting a fire that damaged
other buildings. These dual tragedies ended forever the storied
development of Schloss Heidelberg.
However, the symbolism that the castle ruins conveyed to visitors, far outshone the
importance of its builders. In later years it became a favorite of Goethe,
numerous other painters, poets, romanticists and writers from around
the world, including Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.
Today, Schloss Heidelberg has captured the public’s imagination and is
known throughout the world. For a number of years there was a great debate
in Germany over whether to rehabilitate and rebuild the castle, or simply to
preserve the ruins in the best manner possible. As is often the case with
historic monuments, the present day castle consists of preserved ruins and
some rebuilding (e.g. the Friederich Building, and other modest
renovations). Suffice it to say, the Schloss Heidelberg and its setting
provide for an exceptional exploration that is simply awe-inspiring.
If you have the opportunity to visit this area, a visit to Heidelberg Castle should be at the top of your list.
While you can see the castle on your own, we advise you to take a guided
tour of the castle, as the guides are informative and will provide insights
that might escape your eagle eyes without their help. The guided tour
included a visit to the museum, better known as the House of the Castle
History, located in the Ruprecht building
continues to the Library, English Building, Ladies Building and ends in the
Friedrich building with a tour of several furnished rooms and the Chapel.
An audio tour is offered in 7 languages. More information on the audio
tour can be found at this
official website . The audio-tours devices can be rented near the
ticket shop. The guided tours can be arranged at the booth on the
right (look for the sign) after you pass through the Gate Tower.
The Schloss Heidelberg is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Pharmacy Museum opens later (10 a.m.).
The Garden can be toured without charge.
A restaurant is available at the Fasskellar (the Barrel Cellar) and another at the Schlossweinstube, just inside the Castle Gate.
Views and details on Schloss Heidelberg
Views of the Interior of Heidelberg Castle
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