Heidelberg Castle Ruins – Heidelberg


There is a bit of a hill climb (341 steps), our tour bus dropped us near the entrance. The castle ruins of Heidelberg sit at a great vantage point, about 80 meters up the northern part of Konigstuhl hillside overlooking the old town area. The Heidelberg castle has a long history with records dating back to 1214, many expansions,lightning strikes,wars,fires and rebuilds since then.


The Gate Tower 

The Gate Tower is the main entrance to the castle, still an impressive  structure.  Above the entrance arch is the remains of the coat of arms – two gate keepers and two lions (a missing eagle). There is an interesting view of the ruins from the Elizabeth Gate and piece garden. The Elizabeth Gate leads into the Artillery Garden.

Elizabeth-Gate - Heidelberg Castle Heidelberg

Elizabeth Gate-Heidelberg castle ruins in the background

Ruins of the Artillery Garden at Heidelberg castle

Ruins of the Artillery Garden Heidelberg Castle

The Elizabeth Gate – a romantic tale

In the year 1612 in London, Frederick V, Elector Palatine married  Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James 1st. of England.  The marriage, politically orientated to unify the protestant lines of England and the Palatinate, the Dutch house of Orange-Nassau and Denmark. Frederick and Elizabeth were both only 16 years of age, and from all accounts fell in love and remained so throughout their marriage.  The wedding was a very expensive affair, celebrations went on for two months after the wedding. Frederick,very enamoured with his bride, commissioned the Elizabeth Gate to be built for her homecoming to Heidelberg.

Stone relief of eagle-oldest building Heidelberg castle

Stone relief of eagle – oldest residential building Heidelberg castle

Ruprecht’s building – Heidelberg Castle

In inner courtyard area is the remains of the oldest residential building in Heidelberg castle, built around the year 1400. This is known as the Ruprecht’s building named after Ruprecht III who became emperor of Germany in 1401. There is a stone relief of a single eagle on the outside wall, the ensign of the Roman Kings and emperor-to-be. Ruprecht III and his wife Elizabeth lie entombed in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Heidelberg.

Left Frederick's building; Ruins of glass Hall building, Heidelberg Castle

Left Frederick’s building; next Ruins of Glass Hall building, Heidelberg Castle

Frederick’s building above, commissioned by King Frederick IV and constructed between 1601-1607 display a pure renaissance style. The facade is richly decorated with ancestral portraits in stone.  Next to it stands the ruins of the Glass Hall building (1549-1555) built during the reign of Archduke Friedrich II. The courtyard buildings added and joined on to one another with  little thought to overall appearances, however guess they stand as examples of the different periods of architecture through-out the centuries.

Renaissance style facade of the Ottheinrich building,Heidelberg Castle

Renaissance style facade of the Ottheinrich building

Ottheinrich building – Heidelberg castle

Above – the facade of the Ottheinrich building, constructed during 1556-1560 under the rule of Elector Ottheinrich (1502-1559) marked the start of the German renaissance style at Heidelberg Castle. The facade is elegant and adorned with magnificent sculptures and decorative elements. The Imperial Hall and Knights’ Hall maintained to display their original beauty and craftsmanship, are now mainly used for exhibitions and events.


Ruins of Heidelberg castle's terraced gardens-Heidelberg

Ruins of Heidelberg castle’s terraced gardens

Heidelberg Castle – Garden ruins

In their day the Heidelberg castle gardens were a magnificent achievement in landscaping and horticultural design,  particularly taking into account the difficulties of the steep mountain terrain. Known as Hortus Palatinus (Garden of the Palatinate), commissioned in 1614 by Frederick V, Elector Palatine for his new wife Elizabeth Stuart. A Baroque garden in Italian Renaissance style considered by contemporaries across Europe as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” at that time.  Following the start of the 30 year war Heidelberg castle and the magnificent gardens became severely  damaged and neglected over the years, eventually falling into ruins.

View from Heidelberg castle ruins to weir on Nectar river Heidelberg

View from Heidelberg castle ruins to weir on Neckar river

Views from Garden Terrace

One can still appreciate the wonderful view from the garden terrace across the hillside  ruins, to the red roof tops of the city, the weir, and the classical stone arched bridge over the river Neckar.

From Heidelberg castle Church of the Holy spirit-Heidelberg

From Heidelberg castle Church of the Holy spirit-Heidelberg

Old Bridge ove rNectar River Heidelberg

Old bridge over the Neckar river Heidelberg

Great Barrel of Heidelberg castle

Below ground, down a winding staircase brings us to the famous Great Barrel of Heidelberg Castle.  The Heidelberg Tun, constructed from 130 oak trees (legend has it),has a holding capacity of 221,726 litres. The best view of the barrel is from the dance floor balcony built over the barrel. Plenty of wine tasting to be had.

Heidelberg-Tun Heidelberg castle

Heidelberg Tun

Dwarf Perkeo keeper of the Heidelberg Tun

Dwarf Perkeo keeper of the Heidelberg Tun

Keeper of the Heidelberg Tun 

Elector Palatine Charles III Philip appointed his court jester, known as the dwarf Perkeo as keeper of the Tun and master of the castles wine production. A wooden figure of Perkeo stands nearby to keeps an eye on the Great Barrel.  Perkeo has since become an unofficial mascot of Heidelberg.

Entrance-Castle-Walls-Heidelberg castle Heidelberg

Impressive stone walls Heidelberg castle ruins

We enjoyed the wine tasting ever so  much. So glad we had a bus to pick us up, otherwise we may have just rolled down the hill. Once again we are skipping out on the 341 steps, our bus is picking us up near the castle gate. I understand there is very little parking for vehicles on the hill; it is simpler to get a local bus or the funicular from Heidelburg old town to the castle ruins.

Down to Heidelberg city now to have a walk through the old town and see what it has to offer. Another look at the castle from a different viewpoint….

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