Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg Castle is a famous ruin and one of the the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. The rich and eventful history of Heidelberg Palace began when the counts palatine of the Rhine, – later prince electors – established their residence at Heidelberg. The earliest castle structure was built before 1214 and later expanded into two castles circa 1294; however, in 1537, a lightning-bolt destroyed the upper castle. Until the Thirty Years’ War, Heidelberg Palace boasted one of the most notable ensembles of buildings in the Holy Roman Empire. The present structures had been expanded by 1650, before damage by later wars and fires. In 1764, another lightning-bolt caused a fire which destroyed some rebuilt sections.

The 19th century brought a new wave of admiration: a sight both terrible and beautiful, the ruins epitomised the spirit of the Romantic movement. Heidelberg Palace was elevated to a national monument. The imposing edifice and its famous garden, the Hortus Palatinus, became shrouded in myth. The garden, the last work commissioned by the prince electors, was never completed. Some remaining landscaped terraces and other vestiges hint at the awe-inspiring scale of this ambitious project. In the 17th century, it was celebrated as the “eighth wonder of the world”. While time has taken its toll, Heidelberg Palace’s fame lives on to this day.

Heidelberg Castle is located 80 metres up the northern part of the Königstuhl hillside, and thereby dominates the view of the old downtown. Set against the deep green forests on the north flank of Königstuhl hill, the red sandstone ruins tower majestically over the Neckar valley.

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Details

Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Nadine O'Donncha (37 days ago)
Beautiful castle on a hill just beside Heidelberg. From the old town of Heidelberg you can reach the castle by climbing the stairs, following a road by car or take a train/bus that brings you up there. Amazing view over the river and the town. You can take a tour through the castle rooms, there is a pharmacy museum which is very interesting. In summer the small café within the castle yard you can enjoy a glass of wine or beer, they also serve warm food. Absolutely a must see place when you are in Heidelberg. You can spend an 2 and more in there.
James Hollingsworth (38 days ago)
Amazing views of the city, lots of architecture to take pictures of from various timeframes. I recommend you park at the lift and just walk up. The lift was closed when we stopped by today.
Jacq van de Putte-Hage (39 days ago)
It's impressive and beautiful, parts are ruined because of old wars and because it's old, but that makes you feel the history. I also did the (paid) tour and found that very interesting. There are rooms with old furniture, impressive ceilings and woodwork, art, etc. The tour was in German, I think it's also available in English. I still have to work on all the photos I made and will post them later on. I walked up and down to the castle, which was quite a climb, but it's possible to buy bus tickets. The view over the surrounding area is beautiful, because it's quite high. It's nice to walk around the gardens, even though it was freezing cold and wet when i was there. I went there on a Monday morning, not during a holiday period, so it was really quiet. That was great, I was able to make a lot of photos, without being bothered by other visitors. It's probably quite crowded during holidays. There is a cafeteria and a souvenir shop as well. In my opinion it's worth the visit, especially if you like castles and are interested in castles.
Kerri Watkins (43 days ago)
We've been here several times. It never disappoints! The visitor center's staff is helpful and friendly. The bathrooms are clean and easily accessible. The views from the castle are spectacular! The signs inside the castle, museum area and the grounds are in English and German.
Amanda Healy (2 months ago)
Just beautiful - we visited on a light snow day so was extra magical. Parking not too bad €8 entry fee. Loved the beer hall, and the beer pretty good too. The view over the town and surrounding county is gorgeous on a clear day. Loved it!
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Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.