In July of 1999, as Debbie and I drove through Switzerland and Southern Germany on our honeymoon, we stopped for three days in Heidelberg. We had driven north from Switzerland and had spent the previous weekend in Freiburg im Breisgau, in the Black Forest south of Heidelberg. I had been to Heidelberg back in 1987 and again in 1989, however, this was Debbie's first trip here.
On Tuesday, July 20, we left Freiburg and drove north through the Black Forest to Heidelberg. One of Germany's most beautiful cities, Heidelberg is situated on the banks of the Necker River surrounded by forest covered hills. It is here that the Necker valley opens into the Rhine valley. Heidelberg has a very romantic setting on the banks of the Neckar, with its Gothic and Renaissance castle overlooking the old town, or in German "Altstadt" from 260 feet above the Neckar on the steep, wooded hill of the Königstuhl ("King's chair" or throne) mountain. In 1386, the oldest university in Germany was founded here by Elector Ruprecht I (Electors were the guys who elected the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire - so they were fairly important).
Heidelberg used to be in a region called the Palentine. The Palatinate (in German: Pfalz) is a region in western Germany on the border with France. Today, Heidelberg is in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany bordering Switzerland and France. They changed many of the borders after World War II.
Here is a photo I took looking south across the river of the town and the castle. The Königstuhl is a 1,860 ft. hill overlooking Heidelberg (top center of the photo). There is an two-section incline railway, called the Heidelberger Bergbahn, in the Kornmarkt that takes you to the top of the Königstuhl. From the summit of the Königstuhl are good views over the city of Heidelberg and the Neckar River. There is an astronomical observatory at the summit along with radio and television transmitters.
Though Heidelberg was almost totally destroyed during the Thirty Years' War, it escaped the destruction that was leveled on many German cities during World War II (its the largest German city never to have been bombed during the war) and therefore still has original buildings from the latter Middle Ages and early Renaissance periods.
Heidelberg lies on the river Neckar at the point where it leaves its narrow, steep valley in the Odenwald to flow into the Rhine valley where, 12.4 miles Northwest of Heidelberg, it joins the Rhine River at Mannheim. The Neckar River starts its 228 mile length in the Black Forest near the city of Villingen-Schwenningen and winds north through Baden-Württemberg. Before coming to Heidelberg, the Neckar passes through the German city of Stuttgart.
Mark Twain fell in love with Heidelberg, relating over its splendor in his book A Tramp Abroad. The old town, or in German "Altstadt," doesn't cover a particularly large area. The best starting point for an exploration of the old town is probably Bismarckplatz. From Bismarckplatz one can walk down the pedestrian's Hauptstrasse (high street). This is the main shopping street in Heidelberg and is closed to cars. In Germany they call these, "Fußgängerzone" or foot going zones. Curious thing about Heidelberg are the street names. Almost all of the streets that run parallel to the river end in "straße" pronounced strasse (the symbol ß, called an eszett, is also spelt and pronounced as 'ss'), the German word for street, and all of the streets that run towards the river are called "gasse" which is the German word for alley.
As a relic of the period of Romanticism, Heidelberg has been labeled a romantic town. This is used to attract more than 3.5 million visitors every year. In spring, the "Heidelberger Frühling" Classic Music Festival and the international easter egg market are conducted. In July and August there is a "Heidelberger Castle Festival" (Student Prince and others). On the first Saturday in June and September, and the 2nd Saturday in July – the castle and the old bridge are illuminated with lights and fireworks. The old town autumn festival in September includes a Medieval Market with 40 booths, an arts and crafts market and a flea market. During advent there is a Christmas market throughout the oldest part of the city.
History of Heidelberg
Approximately 600,000 years ago, Homo heidelbergensis, the "Heidelberg Man", whose jaw-bone was discovered in 1907, was the earliest evidence of human life in Europe.
In the 5th century B.C., there was a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of worship on the Heiligenberg, or "Mountain of Saints".
Heidelberg (Coat of arms at left) written history goes back to the year 40 A.D. when the Roman Army built an encampment and garrisoned it with two cohorts (a Roman military unit usually consisting of 480 soldiers) here when the area was part of the Roman province of Germania Superior (Upper Germania). The Romans built a signalling tower on the bank of the Neckar and a wooden bridge across the river. The first civilian settlements would develop under the protection of this camp. The Romans lasted here until 280, when they were overrun by a Germanic tribe called the Alamanni. The Alamanni continued to fight the Roman Legions for the next hundred years. The Alamanni ruled the area around Heidelberg until 496 (some historians claim it was in 506), when the Alamanni were conquered by Clovis I and the Franks at the Battle of Tolbiac. The area was later absorbed it into the Frankish empire, early in the 8th century by Charles Martel (Charlesmagne's grandfather).
Modern Heidelberg can trace its beginnings to the 5th century when the village Bergheim ("Mountain Home") is first mentioned in documents dated to 769 (Bergheim now lies in the middle of modern Heidelberg). In 863, the monastery of St. Michael was founded on the Heiligenberg inside the double rampart of the old Celtic fortress, and around 1130 the Neuberg Monastery was founded in the Neckar valley. At the same time the bishopric of Worms extended its influence into the valley, founding Schönau Abbey in 1142.
In 1155, Heidelberg castle and its neighboring settlement are taken over by the house of Hohenstaufen. Conrad of Hohenstaufen was made the "Count Palatine of the Rhine" (Pfalzgraf bei Rhein) by his half-brother Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, and the region became known as the Palatinate. The town is first mentioned in a 1196 document from the Schönau Monastery calling the town Heidelberch. This is considered the founding date for Heidelberg.
In 1225, Louis I, Duke of Bavaria obtained the Palatinate, and thus also the castle, which is mentioned in a document. In 1356, the Counts Palatine were granted far-reaching rights in the Golden Bull in addition to becoming Electors (one of the seven who elect the Holy Roman Emperors).
In 1386, Count Rupert I "the Red" (Ruprecht der Rote) founded Heidelberg University. Germany's oldest institution of higher learning. It played a leading role during the age of Humanism and the Reformation. Heidelberg's library, founded in 1421, is the oldest public library in Germany still intact. A few months after the proclamation of the 95 theses, in April 1518, Martin Luther was received in Heidelberg, to defend them. (the manuscript picture of Rupert I at the right is with his two wives, Elizabeth von Namur and Beatrix von Berg)
In 1620, the royal crown of Bohemia was offered to the Elector, Frederick V who became known as the "winter king", as he only reigned for one winter until the Imperial house of Habsburg regained the crown by force. This marked the beginning of the Thirty Years' War. Two years later, after a siege of two months, the armies of the Catholic League, commanded by Count of Tilly, captured Heidelberg. He gave the famous Bibliotheca Palatina from the Church of the Holy Ghost to the Pope as a present before destroying some of the castle and town. The Catholic, Bavarian branch of the house of Wittelsbach gained control over the Palatinate and the title of Prince-Elector. In 1648, at the end of the war, Frederick V's son Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine, was able to recover his titles and lands.
Things got worse for Heidelberg. In order to strengthen his dynastic power, Charles I Louis married his daughter to Philip I, Duke of Orléans, the brother of King Louis XIV of France. In 1685, after the death of Charles Louis' son, King Louis XIV laid claim to his sister-in-law's land. The claim was rejected, and war ensued. In 1689, Heidelberg and castle were taken by French troops, who brought about an almost total destruction in 1693.
In 1720, religious conflicts with the citizens of Heidelberg caused the Prince-Elector Charles III Philip to transfer his residence to nearby Mannheim, where it remained until the Elector Charles Theodore became Elector of Bavaria in 1777 and moved his court further away to Munich.
Over the next two hundred years, Heidelberg rebuilt itself - except for the castle. An attempt was made in 1740 before a lightning bolt started a fire in 1764 and worked was halted forever. Heidelberg became the favorite of an illustrious group of poets including Arnim, Brentano, Hölderlin, Eichendorff and Goethe, to name a few. No city was so beloved by the Romantic poets as Heidelberg.
In 1848, it was decided to have a German National Assembly in Heidelberg. In 1849, during the Palatinate-Baden rebellion, Heidelberg was the headquarters of a revolutionary army which was defeated by a Prussian army which resulted in heidelberg being occupied by Prussian troops until 1850.
During the Nazi regime (1933-1945), Heidelberg was a stronghold of the NSDAP (Nazi Party). Heidelberg was spared the devastation leveled on other German cities by Allied bombing during World War II. Since Heidelberg was neither an industrial center nor a transport hub, there was nothing worth bombing in Heidelberg and Allied air raids focused on the nearby industrial cities of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen. When the American Army advanced on the city in March of 1945, both the American and German commanders agreed to declare Heidelberg an "open" city and no fighting occurred in the city. On March 30, Good Friday, American tanks rolled in Heidelberg. The American Army made the city its headquarters after the war. After being involved in a traffic accident, General George Patton died of an embolism at the military hospital in Heidelberg on December 21, 1945.
Due to her enchanting location on the Neckar River amidst mountains, woods and sloping vineyards. Down through the ages this urbane and vital city has been a magnet for many artists – as it is today. Its opera, drama and ballet performances, for instance, are highly acclaimed throughout the entire German theater world. Especially worth seeing are the Schlossfestspiele, summer festivals of concerts and music theater. Behind her romantic settings, the facades of simple town houses and splendid palaces, bustles a forward-looking city with world-class scientific and economic institutions (the new city logo is above).
Today, Heidelberg's population has reached 135,000 people, including 32,000 students.
The most famous attraction in Heidelberg is the castle ruins above the town. On a beautiful morning, Debbie and I set out to hike up to the castle.
Heidelberg Castle (Heidelberger Schloß in German - there is that symbol ß again which is pronounced as 'ss') is one of the most important German cultural monuments. The structure, now largely in ruins, preserves numerous examples of medieval, Renaissance and baroque German architecture.
The picture here is of the castle from the Necker River. On the far left is the Bell Tower. Moving left to right is the Hall of Mirrors, Frederick's Palace, the English Building and the blown remains of the Fat Tower.
Heidelberg Castle was built originally back in the 13th century. It was added on through the years up into the 16th century. As a residence of the Palatinate electors from the 13th to the 18th century, it experienced a magnificent and eventful history. Periods of expansion were followed by those of devastation. The castle buildings with the greatest artistic importance were built during the Renaissance. Of particular interest are the four granite columns located in the castle courtyard, which were once part of a castle belonging to Charlemagne. Since the 19th century, Heidelberg has been famous the world over for the romantic appearance of its castle ruins.
In the 12th Century, the oldest castle and the settlement comes into the possession of the Hohenstaufens under Palgrave Konrad. The earliest castle structure was built before 1214, when Ludwig I of Bavaria, a Wittelsbach, became Count Palentine on Rhine. The first mention of a castle in Heidelberg ("castrum in Heidelberg cum burgo ipsius castri" - this is Latin which I was never good at) is in 1214, when Ludwig I received the castle as a fief from Bishop Henry of Worms. The Wittelsbach lands were divided in 1294 and Rudolph I, "the Stammerer" received the Palentine. It was during this period that the castle was expanded into two castles; The upper castle on the Kleiner Gaisberg Mountain, near today's Molkenkur, which was destroyed by a lightning-bolt in 1537 and the lower castle on the Jettenbühl (the present castle site).
The picture at right is of the crest above the entrance to the castle. It appears to be a crowned Wittelsbach lion holding a shield with flags, armor, helmets, cannons and stacks of cannonballs.
In 1356, The Golden Bull proclaims that the Palentine Count Rupert I "the Red", in German Ruprecht der Rote, (ruled 1353 - 1390) will be one of the seven "Electors" of the Holy Roman Emperor. The Golden Bull explicitly named the seven Kurfürsten or prince-electors who were to choose the King of the Romans, who would then be crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope later (the other six were the Archbishop of Mainz, the Archbishop of Trier, and the Archbishop of Cologne along with the King of Bohemia, the Duke of Saxony and the Margrave of Brandenburg). This gave Heidelberg, and its castle, a lot of prestige.
When Elector Rupert III (ruled 1398 - 1410), the grand nephew of Rupert I (pictured at right with his wife, Elisabeth of Nurnberg), became the King of Germany in 1401, the castle was so small sized that on his return from his coronation, he had to camp out in the Augustinians monastery, on the site of today's University Square in Heidelberg, while improvements were made to the castle. What he desired was more space for his entourage and court and to impress his guests, but also additional defenses to turn the castle into a fortress. He built the Ruprecht Building (Ruprechtsbau), the oldest residential building still recognizable. It's on the left as you enter the courtyard. Today it is a shell of a building with just walls and no roof. He also had the inner and outer fortress walls built.
After Rupprecht's death in 1410, his land was divided between his four sons. The Palatinate, the heart of his territories, was given to the eldest son, Ludwig III (ruled 1410 - 1436). Ludwig was the representative of the emperor and the supreme judge, and it was in this capacity that he, after the Council of Constance in 1415 and at the behest of Emperor Sigismund, held the deposed Antipope John XXIII in custody here before he was taken to Burg Eichelsheim, today Mannheim-Lindenhof (Antipope John XXIII was freed by Pope Martin V in 1418 and died in Florence, as cardinal bishop of Tusculum, in 1419 - he has a magnificent tomb in the Baptistery of St. John in Florence in front of the Duomo).
Under Elector Ludwig V (ruled 1508 - 1544), the defensive structures and domestic building were renewed. Apparently the strengthening of the castle had priority over any comfort. Ludwig had the Ladies Building (Frauenzimmerbau), Ludwig Palace (Ludwigbau), Soldiers' Building (Soldatenbau) and the Library (Bibliotheksbau) built. During his reign in 1518, Protestant reformer Martin Luther visited the castle.
The photo here is of the northeastern side of the castle looking north. In the foreground is the hollow shell of the Apothecary Tower which is in the center of the eastside of the castle. Beyond it is the Bell Tower. Between the two towers is the back of the Ottoheinrich Building.
The Ladies Building (Frauenzimmerbau) faces the courtyard to the left of Frederick's Palace. It is an intact building with plain walls, narrow windows and a simple roof. It was once four stories high, but only the ground floor remains. Inside is a hall called the "King's Hall" were they have ceremonies and banquets today. The castle tour ends here.
The Soldiers' Building (Soldatenbau) in the southwest corner of the courtyard is where you buy tickets for the tours. As the name implies, this was the building where the soldiers who guard the castle lived. It has been reported that the pillars outside the building where from Charlemagne's castle at Ingleheim and are of Roman origin. Testing of the material suggest it is possible.
The Library (Bibliotheksbau) is at the center of the western wall of the castle between the Ladies Building and the Ruprecht Building. The archives, the treasury, the mint along with the library were once located here. Today it is a ruin with only the ground floor being covered. Traces of wall murals can still be seen.
Ludwig Palace (Ludwigbau) was built on the foundation of an older building. Ludwig built a simple massive building in 1524 facing the courtyard. Ludwig's coat of arms is still on the building. However, nothing else remains of Ludwig's palace except its outside walls.
The Hall of Mirrors Building (Glaserner-Saal-Bau), which marks the architectural transition from the Gothic Period to the Renaissance, was completed under Elector Friedrich II (ruled 1544-56). This building, constructed in 1549, once has large Venetian mirrors on walls of its large hall. These were all lost due to wars and fires. It has arcades with arches and pillars facing the courtyard giving it a somewhat Romanesque look. Unfortunately the rest of the building, except the cellar, is open due to wars and fires.
Between the Hall of Mirrors Building and the Ottoheinrich Building is the three-tiered Bell Tower (it has the flag on top) on the northeastern corner of the castle. It is called the Bell Tower because a bell was once here back in the 16th century. The tower was built about the beginning of the 15th century. It has been re-built several times since then. Today the Bell Tower is just a hollow shell without a bell.
With the Ottoheinrich Building (Ottheinrichsbau) Friedrich II's successor, Elector Otto Heinrich (ruled 1556-1559), built one of the most beautiful Renaissance palaces north of the Alps. However, it was never completed. It has a highly decorated facade with 16 statues of people from the Old Testament, like Joshua and David, and mythology, like Mars, Saturn, Hercules and Diana. The statues you see on the outside of the building are replicas of the originals that are displayed inside. The lower floor is still intact and has the "Imperial Hall." The top two floors are just an open shell with no roof.
The statue at right is of Elector Frederick IV, Elector Palatine of the Rhine (ruled 1592 - 1610), the only surviving son of Louis VI, Elector Palatine and Elisabeth of Hesse. Called "Frederick the Righteous" (Friedrich Der Aufrichtige), he was an ardent Calvinist. In January 1592, Frederick assumed control of the government of the Palatinate and continued his anti-Catholic measures. In 1608, Frederick became the head of the Protestant military alliance known as the Protestant Union (a coalition of Protestant German states).
At Heidelberg, he had a large palace built between the Hall of Mirrors building and the Ladies Building called Frederick's Palace or Freidrichsbau (seen at the left in the picture below of the courtyard). His statue rest in one of the niches on the facade of the building. It is one of 16 elaborate statues of the electors and other monarchs, including Charlemagne, on the facade.
Construction of the Frederick's Palace began in 1601. It is very eye-catching when you first enter the courtyard. It is very ornate and even more impressive, very undamaged. Like the statues outside the Ottoheinrich Building, the 16 statues here are replicas with the originals housed inside. On the ground floor of the building is the Castle Chapel which was once consecrated to St. Udalrich. The original chapel was torn down by Ludwig VI and rebuilt. This also caused the moving of the main gate to the castle. The new chapel was built in the Late-Gothic style with ribbed-vaulted ceilings. Many of the royal rooms in here are decorated though there is not much furnishings. In here is also the castle museum.
One of the more interesting stories here is of Frederick V (1596 - 1632), who was Elector Palatine of the Rhine (ruled 1610 - 1623) after Frederick IV (pictured here at left). On February 14, 1613, he married Princess Elizabeth of England. She was the daughter of King James I of England and was named after his predecessor and aunt, Queen Elizabeth. The wedding took place in England. Frederick had a large stone arch-type gate built on the grounds of the castle for his new bride when they returned to live in Heidelberg Castle. Tradition says the gate was built in a single night as a surprise for the Electress.
Along with the gate, he had the world-famous palace gardens (Hortus Palatinus) created and the English Building (Englische Bau) constructed. His buildings are among the most original built at a German princely court at that time. In order to have sufficient space for his buildings, Friedrich V reduced the fortified character of the palace, for example by having the defensive trenches filled in.
Not much of the English Building (Englische Bau) remains except a roofless shell. The assume that it was richly decorated because of the remains of the Renaissance stucco work on the window walls.
The photo here is another one of the northeastern side of the castle taken from the Scheffel Terrace to the east. on the left is the hollow shell of the Apothecary Tower which is in the center of the eastside of the castle. On the right is the hollow shell of the Bell Tower. Between the two towers is the back of the Ottoheinrich Building. To the left of the Apothecary Tower you can see, partly obscured by trees, the red roof of the Economics Building. In the far right of the photo you can see the northern facade of Frederick's Palace with the Barrel Building next to it.
Frederick V and Elizabeth had thirteen children. Among them were Karl Ludwig I (future Palentine Elector), Prince Rupert of the Rhine and Prince Maurice (both of whom were Royalist generals for Elizabeth's brother King Charles I during the English Civil War) and Sophia of Hanover. Because of her popularity, Elizabeth was also called the "Queen of Hearts" (you see, Princess Diane was not the first).
In 1619, the Protestants in Bohemia (basically the western half of the Czech Republic) protested against the Holy Roman Empire. This was during the early years of the Thirty Years' War between Catholics and Protestants in Europe that devastated much of Germany. The Bohemians "invited" Frederick to become the King of Bohemia. Frederick and Elizabeth traveled to Prague and he was coronated Frederick I of Bohemia in November of 1619. However, things changed when Maximilian I, Duke of Bavaria regrouped the forces of the Catholic League. He sent an army of 25,000 led by Johan Tzerclaes, Count of Tilly straight to Prague. At the Battle of White Mountain (Schlacht am Weißen Berge) on November 8, 1620, Tilly's forces routed the Bohemian Army. Frederick, after one year as king, fled the country with Elizabeth to the Netherlands. They lost all their titles and possessions and lived the rest of their lives in exile. Because of all of this, Frederick V is known to history as "The Winter King."
Though they were only king and queen for a year, their daughter Sophia was the mother of King George I of England and their 11th decedent is the current Queen Elizabeth II.
Unfortunately, the Thirty Years' War continued to rage through Germany. With Frederick in flight and his army disbanded, the Palatine was undefended against General Tilly, the supreme commander of the Imperial and Holy Roman Empire's troops. On August 26, 1622, Tilly commenced his attack on Heidelberg, taking the town on September 16, and the castle few days later. When the Swedish Army captured Heidelberg on May 5, 1633 and opened fire on the castle from the Königstuhl hill behind it, Tilly handed over the castle. The following year, the emperor's troops tried to recapture the castle, but it was not until July 1635 that they succeeded. It remained in their possession until the Peace of Westphalia, ending the Thirty Years War, was signed. The new ruler, Charles Louis (Karl Ludwig) and his family did not move into the ruined castle until October 7, 1649.
The castle suffered most of the destruction seen today during the War of the Grand Alliance (1688 - 1697), which was a war that pitted France against almost everyone else in Europe; England, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and the Holy Roman Empire. On September 29, 1688, French troops marched into the Palatinate and on October 24 moved into Heidelberg, which had been deserted by Philipp Wilhelm, the new Elector Palatine. France's war council decided to destroy all fortifications and to lay waste to the Palatinate (Brûlez le Palatinat!), in order to prevent an enemy attack from this area. As the French withdrew from the castle on March 2, 1689, they set fire to it and blew the front off the Fat Tower. Portions of the town were also burned, but the mercy of a French general, René de Froulay de Tessé, who told the townspeople to set small fires in their homes to create smoke and the illusion of burning prevented wider destruction.
Here I am in the remains of another destroyed tower called Charles' Tower, at the northeast part of the castle below the Bell Tower, also blown up by the French. In the photo below, you can see what is left of the Powder Tower, at the southeast corner of the castle, that was also blown apart.
Unfortunately, the French were not done. Immediately upon his accession in 1690, Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine had the walls and towers rebuilt. When the French again reached the gates of Heidelberg in 1691 and 1692, the town's defenses were so good that they did not gain entry. On May 18, 1693 the French were yet again at the town's gates and took it on May 22. However, they did not attain control of the castle and destroyed the town in attempt to weaken the castle's main support base. The castle's occupants capitulated the next day. Now the French took the opportunity to finish off the work started in 1689. The towers and walls that had survived the last wave of destruction were blown up with mines.
At left is a picture of the Powder Turret, split by an explosion with one-third of its wall resting in the moat at the base of the tower. It was called the Powder Tower because that is where the gunpowder was stored. It was part of the original fortifications. The tower was exploded by the French Army in 1693. Today it is referred to as the Exploded Tower (Krautturm). It is one of the most photographed parts of the castle because the large chunk of the wall is in the moat leaning against the exposed part of the tower as if it just slid down.
French writer Victor Hugo summed up the whole disastrous history of the castle, "In 1619, Frederick V, then a young man, took the crown of the kings of Bohemia, against the will of the emperor, and in 1687, the Philip William, Count Palatine, by then an old man, assumes the title of prince-elector, against the will of the king of France. This was to cause Heidelberg battles and never-ending tribulations, the Thirty Years War, Gustav Adolfs Ruhmesblatt and finally the War of the Grand Alliance, the Turennes mission. All of these terrible events have blighted the castle. Three emperors, Louis the Bavarian, Adolf of Nassau, and Leopold of Austria, have laid siege to it; Pio II condemned it; Louis XIV wreaked havoc on it."
In 1697, the War of the Grand Alliance was over and peace came to Heidelberg. Plans were made to pull down the castle and to reuse parts of it for a new palace in the valley. When difficulties with this plan became apparent, the castle was patched up. At the same time, Karl III Philip, Elector Palatine played with the idea of completely redesigning the castle, but shelved the project due to lack of funds. In 1720, he came into conflict with the town's Protestants as a result of fully handing over the Church of the Holy Spirit to the Catholics (it had previously been split by a partition and used by both congregations), the Catholic prince-elector moved his court to nearby Mannheim and lost all interest in the castle and Heidelberg. He wished that "Grass may grow on her streets".
In the picture at right looking at the northwest corner of the castle from the town, you can see what remains of the Fat Tower and next to it is what's left of the English Building.
Karl Philip's successor Karl Theodor planed to move his court back to Heidelberg Castle. However, on June 24, 1764, lightning struck the Saalbau (court building) twice in a row, again setting the castle on fire. Theodore took this as an omen and decided not to move in. In the following decades, basic repairs were made, but Heidelberg Castle remained essentially a ruin.
In 1777, Karl Theodor became ruler of Bavaria (more on this below) in addition to the Palatine and moved his court from Mannheim to Munich. Heidelberg Castle receded even further from his thoughts and the rooms which had still had roofs were taken over by craftsmen. Even as early as 1767, the south wall was quarried for stone to build Schwetzingen Castle. In 1784, the vaults in the Ottoheinrich wing were filled in, and the castle used as as a source of building materials.
Here we are in the courtyard of the castle. Behind us is the Frederick's Palace on the right with it's 16 statues in niches in the facade. In the middle is the Hall of Mirrors with the Bell Tower, missing it's top, to the right. In the extreme right of the photo is the Ottoheinrich Building.
As the castle was decaying and the townsfolk were helping themselves to stone, wood and iron from the ruins to build their own houses, there was anger over the government's plans to pull down the ruins. However, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the ruined castle became a symbol for the patriotic movement against Napoleon.
The savior of the castle was the French count Charles de Graimberg, a refugee of the French Revolution, who in 1810 dedicated himself to the preservation of the Castle ruins.
The question of whether the castle should be completely restored or left as a preserved ruin was discussed for a long time. It was decided in 1890 that only the Friedrich Building (in the left of the photo at left), whose interiors were fire damaged, but not ruined, would be restored. This reconstruction was done from 1897 to 1900 by Karl Schäfer at the enormous cost of 520,000 Marks.
The castle ruins did not really become a tourist attraction until the beginning of the 19th century. The castle a pervasive subject for pictures which became forerunners of the postcard. At the same time, the castle was also found on souvenir cups. Tourism received a big boost when Heidelberg was connected to the railway network in 1840. Mark Twain, a visitor, wrote about the ruins in 1880, "Misfortune has done for this old tower what it has done for the human character sometimes − improved it."
At the left is the Gate Tower (Torturm). To enter the castle you must first pass through the Bridge House and cross the stone bridge over a partially filled-in moat. You then pass through the Gate Tower and enter the courtyard. This picture was taken from outside the castle across the moat. The main gate was built in 1528. The original watchhouse was destroyed in the War of the Grand Alliance and replaced in 1718 by a round-arched entrance gate. The gate to the left of the main entrance was closed by means of a drawbridge.
Despite of its Gothic interior, it was not until 1934, that the Kings Hall was added. Today, the hall is used for festivities, such as dinner banquets, balls and theater performances. During the Heidelberg Castle Festival in the summer, the courtyard is the site of open air musicals, operas and theater performances and classical concerts such as the famous "Castle Serenades" performed by the Heidelberg City Orchestra.
Heidelberg has, at the beginning of the 21st century, more than three million visitors a year and about 1,000,000 overnight stays. Most of the foreign visitors come either from the United states or Japan. The most important attraction, according to surveys by the Geographical Institute of the University of Heidelberg, is the castle with its observation terraces. Some of the visitors fall in love with the town, so they decide to get married at the castle. There are about 100 weddings a year at the castle's chapel.
The Wine Vat
One of the more interesting attractions on the tour of the castle is the Heidelberg Tun (Großes Fass). It is an extremely large wine vat contained within the cellars of Heidelberg Castle in what is appropriately called the Barrel Building or Fassbau. There have been four such barrels in the history of Heidelberg; the present one has a capacity of approximately to hold 58,100 gallons of wine and was made in 1751. It's almost 28 feet across and 23 feet high. 130 oak trees were reputedly used in its construction. This one is named after Karl Theodore (his initials KT are carved on the vat). It has only rarely been used as a wine barrel, and in fact presently enjoys more use as a tourist attraction and as a dance floor since one was constructed on top of the giant vat. There is a set of stairs on each side of it that lead up to the small dance floor on the top. Mark Twain was not so impressed with it since it was empty, "I do not see any wisdom in building a monster cask to hoard up emptiness in, when you can get a better quality, outside, any day, free of expense."
It's not very well lit in the cellar where they giant wine vat is. I included a picture of the entire vat I found online so you can get a sense of the size of it. The picture is of me leaning against the bottom of the vat.
When we took the tour of Heidelberg Castle, the tour guide told us of the story of Perkeo. He was the court jester who guarded the cask during the reign of Prince Elector Carl Philip. A Tyrolean dwarf nick-named Perkeo, he was supposedly known for his ability to drink large quantities of wine. According to the story, he got his nickname when he was asked if he could drink all the wine in the vat, he responded, "Perché No?" (in Italian: why not?). Others say the name was derived from his reply to every offer of a drink. Either way, the name of the guard Perkeo developed. Perkeo is said to have drunk 15 bottles a day from this supply. The tour guide told us that legend has it that he died when he mistakenly drank a glass of water. There is a statue (photo at right) to Perkeo on a pedestal opposite the enormous wooden wine barrel. You can see it in the photo above also. Cafe Perkeo in Heidelberg takes it's name from him. There is another statue of him on a building in town.
Outside of the castle there are gardens. There is a statue in a grotto fountain of a reclining "Father Rhine". I took this picture because I liked the fountain. Here is "Father Rhine" relaxing on some rocks with water spraying about him. I would have preferred a more relaxing chair to relax on, but I guess if I was a river god, the rocks would be fine also.
Germany loves water fountains. We have come across all different kinds around Germany. Heidelberg doesn't have as many as some other German cities, but it does have some. There is a huge one near the entrance to the AltStadt that shoots water into the air like fire hoses.
University of Heidelberg
The Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg is a public, comprehensive research university commonly referred to as University of Heidelberg. Established in 1386 by Ruprecht I of the Palatinate and chartered by Pope Urban VI, it is the oldest university in Germany. It was to provide faculties for the study of philosophy, theology, law and medicine. It acted from the beginning as a center for theologians and law experts from throughout the Holy Roman Empire. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries, three libraries came into existence that were part of the university. They consisted of the book collections of the liberal arts faculty, of the higher faculties and of the collegiate church (Holy Ghost Church). The core of the collections in the faculty libraries consisted almost solely of the books left to the university by professors. In this way by 1396 the university managed to build up a collection of over 600 books.
When Jerome of Prague, a friend of John Hus, introduced realism at the University, he was expelled by the faculty which, six years later, also condemned the teachings of John Wycliffe. Several distinguished professors took part in the Council of Constance and acted as counselors for Louis III who, as representative of the emperor and chief magistrate of the realm, attended this council and had Hus executed as a heretic.
Having gone into decline as a result of the Thirty Years' War, it overcame its fiscal and intellectual crisis in the early 19th century, becoming a hub for independent thinkers and developed into a stronghold of humanism and democracy. This all changed with the advent of the Third Reich in 1933. The university supported the Nazis like all other German universities at the time. It recruited a large number of pro-Nazi lecturers and expelled many students for political and racist reasons. Many students and professors had to emigrate. Some Jewish and Communist professors were deported and two professors became direct victims of Nazi terror. Members of the university took part in a book burning in the University Square. After World War II, it underwent an extensive de-nazification program.
One of the interesting aspects of the University is the Karzer or "Student Prison" on Augustinergasse 2 (picture at right). It was here that students would be placed for what was called "Town vs. Gown" offenses; such as disturbing the peace, womanizing, unruly drunkenness and setting the townspeople's ubiquitous pigs free. In use from 1712 to 1914 for sentences up to four weeks, its graffitied covered "cells" are now a tourist attraction (you might notice the wooden 'toilet' next to the table). Mark Twain was particularly fascinated with the students' obsession for dueling and their inevitable scars. Although no longer practiced by today's roughly 32,000 students (one-fifth of Heidelberg's population) you can still visit the dueling grounds which is today the site of a hotel and restaurant Gasthaus zur Hirschgasse.
The 1927 silent film The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, based on a novel by Wilhelm Meyer-Förster and starring Ramon Novarro and Norma Shearer, shows the story of a German prince who comes to Heidelberg to study there, but falls in love with his innkeeper's daughter. Having been very popular in the in the first half of the 20th century, it presents the typical student life of the 19th and early 20th century, and it is today considered a masterpiece of the late silent film era. MGM's 1954 color remake The Student Prince, featuring Mario Lanza, is based on Sigmund Romberg's operetta version of the story.
Across from our hotel stands Die Heiliggeistkirche (The Church of the Holy Spirit), the most famous church in Heidelberg. It stands in the middle of the market place in the old center of Heidelberg beneath Heidelberg Castle. The steeple of the church, rising above the roofs, dominates the old town. The Church of the Holy Spirit is first mentioned in a manuscript from 1239. In 1398, the foundations of the current late Gothic church were laid on the site of a late Romanesque basilica which, in turn, had been erected in the place of even an older church. Thus the current church is the third church standing on the site.
Old documents name Arnold Rype, who was also mayor of Heidelberg for a time, as the master builder. In the usage of the time, the term "master builder" referred not to the architect but the financial coordinator. The only known architects of the Church of the Holy Spirit are Hans Marx, who worked on the church until 1426 as well as Jorg, who was responsible until 1439. Both men probably supervised work on the nave. Under the reign of Prince-elector Frederick I (1429 - 1476) a specialist in the construction of church towers, Niclaus Eseler, came from Mainz to Heidelberg and was probably responsible for completing the primary work on the spire of the Church of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, the steeple was completed by Lorenz Lechler.
The construction lasted for some 150 years. The Choir was consecrated in 1411 and the nave was finished in 1441. Probably in the same year the construction of the steeple was started. The work was interrupted until 1508 and the tower was finished in 1544. In 1709, after the church had been set on fire by the French during the War of the Palatinian Succession, it was rebuilt and received a baroque spire.
In the 14th century, the Church of the Holy Spirit took over as parish church from St. Peter's Church, which became the university church for the University of Heidelberg. Originally, the Church of the Holy Spirit contained the tombs of the Palatinate electors but they were destroyed by fire during the War of the Palatinian Succession. Today only the tomb of Prince-Elector Rupert III, the founder of the church, is still preserved.
The famous Palatine Library, the Bibliotheca Palatina, was founded and at first kept in the gallery of the Church of the Holy Spirit, where good light for reading was available. During the Thirty Years War from 1618 to 1648, this collection of manuscripts and early printed books was taken as a booty by Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria and presented to the Pope. Of the approximately 5,000 books and 3,524 manuscripts taken, in 1816 a mere 885 were returned from the custody of the Vatican.
In the course of its history, the Church of the Holy Spirit was used by both Catholics and Protestants, even simultaneously. Starting in 1706, a partition was used so that both congregations could hold their services without any mutual disturbance. In 1936 the separating wall was removed by Pastor Hermann Maas and the church is now exclusively Protestant.
The old Karl-Theodore-Brücke is a stone bridge (brücke is German for bridge) which was erected from 1786 to 1788. This is one of my favorite bridges in the world. There is a medieval bridge gate on the side of the old town, originally part of its town wall. Baroque tower helmets were added as part of the erection of the stone bridge in 1788. This is the fifth bridge here since medieval times. The four preceding bridges were constructed of wood. They were destroyed by floods, fire or ice.
There is a plaque commemorating the defense of Heidelberg against French troops. On October 16, 1798, a brave Austrian regiment commanded by Prince Schwarzenberg succeeded in repulsing the advancing French Army.
The two towers at the southern end of the bridge, called the Brückentor (Bridge gate) can be seen here in the picture at left. The West Tower contains dungeons, whereas the East Tower holds a spiral staircase. A few steps east of it visitors will find the "Tränktor" (Drinking Gate). During the Middle Ages, cattle were driven through this gate to their drinking places.
There is a stone statue to Karl Theodore (seen in the right of the photo) who the bridge is named after. On the other side of the bridge there is a statue of the bridge's patron saint, St. John Nepomuk, guarding the bridge.
Karl Theodore (1744 to 1799), a member of the Wittelsbach royal family, was a Prince-Elector, Count Palatine and later the Duke of Bavaria. As reigning Prince of the Palatinate, he won the hearts of his subjects by founding an academy of science, stocking up the museums' collections and supporting the arts. When Maximilian III Joseph of Bavaria died in 1777, Karl Theodor also became Elector and Duke of Bavaria and moved southeast to Munich.
Unfortunately, Karl Theodore (above right) never enjoyed the popularity in Bavaria that he enjoyed in the Palatinate. This had something to do with the fact he kept trying to secretly trade land in Bavaria with the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II for land in what is today Belgium. This even led to a minor little war between Austria and Prussia that is nicknamed the "Potato War" (Kartoffelkrieg). They even established that Karl Theodore's descendants (he had no surviving legitimate children) would not inherit the throne of Bavaria. When he died of a stroke in Munich in 1799, the population in Munich celebrated for several days (and we all know how they celebrate in Munich). Karl Theodore, who should have stayed in Heidelberg, is buried in the crypt of the Theatinerkirche in Munich.
Fortunately, Karl Theodor was a great lover of the arts, including drama and especially music. He commissioned the Italian opera Idomeneo (King of Crete) from Wolfgang Mozart in 1780. Mozart quotes him as saying, "No music has ever made such an impression on me. It is magnificent."
The photo here is of the Karl Theodore bridge looking south across the Necker River. The spire of the Die Heiliggeistkirche is in the center. The center span of the Karl-Theodore-Brücke, along with all of the other bridges in Heidelberg, was blown up by German troops as the Americans advanced towards the city in the last days World War II. It was re-built after the war.
We crossed over the Necker River and took a walk on the Philosophers' Walk (Philosophenweg). This was built back in 1817 on the slopes of Heiligenberg at an altitude of 656 feet. This road offers a magnificent view, and photos, of Heidelberg and its castle. The "Philosophenweg" gets its name from the fact that Heidelberg's philosophers and university teachers are said to have once walked and talked here.
Next to the twin baroque towers of the bridge, just down the steps, is a bronze statue called the Heidelberg Bridge Monkey. Put here in 1979, it holds a bronze mirror up. Local tradition says there was a bridge monkey in Heidelberg as far back as the 15th century. Old drawings of the town show it next to the tower on the north end of the bridge. Sometime during Palatinian War of Succession, it disappeared. There is an inscription, “Was thustu mich hie angaffen? Hastu nicht gesehen den alten Affen zu Heydelberg - sich dich hin und her - Da findest du wol meines gleichen mehr” which translated says, “Why are you looking at me? Haven't you seen the monkey in Heidelberg? Look around and you will probably see more monkeys like me.” It is highly photographed because you are able to put your head inside. Next to the statue are bronze mice. Another tradition says the sculptor was instructed that the monkey's rear, and you can easily tell its a male monkey, was facing the opposite side of the river (I have no idea why).
The Madonna at the Kornmarkt
The Kornmarkt is the old Heidelberg Corn Market square. Today it is one of the squares in heidelberg that is surrounded by restaurants and cafes. In the middle of the square is a statue to the Madonna. The Madonna was erected by a Catholic fraternity. When the local sovereign officially declared Mary the patron saint of the Catholic belief in the Kurpfalz, the statue became a focal point of religious worship in Heidelberg. The Madonna of the Kornmarkt demonstrates three typical characteristics of this period: Mary is shown as the Queen of Heaven, as a virgin and as a victor.
The Prince Elector, in spite of his intentions to convert his "heathen" subjects, failed in changing their religious convictions. Many of the Protestants preferred to emigrate from Heidelberg. When, during the first half of the 19th century, citizens rebelled against the aristocracy and the clergy, the "Madonna of the Kornmarkt" lost much of her religious symbolic significance. At the same time, the statue was discovered and appreciated as real art work.
President Friedrich Ebert Memorial
In the final months of World War I and after the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Germany set up a Republican style democracy called the Weimar Republic. In 1919, a national assembly convened in the city of Weimar, where a new constitution for the German Reich was written and adopted. This government ran Germany until 1933, when they were supplanted by Hitler and National Socialism. The first president of the "new" German Republic was the son of a tailor from Heidelberg, Friedrich Ebert. This was a very tumultuous time in Germany's history as both Communists and National Socialists fought for control of the government. In 1923, a former military soldier, Adolf Hitler, attempted to overthrow of the Bavarian government in Munich in the infamous Beer Hall Putsch. During his five years as President he issued 134 emergency decrees. Ebert pulled Germany through this period until his death at 54 on February 28, 1925.
The city of Heidelberg has preserved his birthplace at Pfaffengasse 18 a couple of blocks west of the Church of the Holy Ghost as the President Friedrich Ebert Memorial. Their mission is, “to preserve the memory of the work of Friedrich Ebert, first president of the Weimar Republic, and to make a contribution to the understanding of German history of his time.”
Located on the corner of Lauerstraße and Große Mantelgasse, six blocks west of the Karl Theodore Bridge near the river is Synagogue Square (Synagogenplatz). This square is in memorial to the Heidelberg Synagogue that had stood on this spot since 1878 and was destroyed by Nazi Party members during Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) on November 10, 1938. The memorial is based on the original layout of the synagogue, with marble paving stones indicate where the walls stood and granite stones where the door and windows were. The twelve sandstone cubes, some are lighted, not only represent the location of the pews, but also the twelve tribes of Israel (photo at left).
Heidelberg, like all towns and cities in Germany had a thriving Jewish community before the Nazi's came to power. A Jewish community with a synagogue existed in the early 14th century, but was destroyed during the Black Death persecutions of 1348-49, with Elector Rupert I confiscating all of the Jewish property. A new Jewish community grew after this, before Elector Ruprecht II wanted to get rid of all the Jews in Heidelberg by forcing them to move outside of the city in 1390. Judengasse (Jewish Lane) was even renamed Dreikoenigstrasse (Three Kings Street). By the 18th Century, Jews started to return to Heidelberg. In 1724, Jews were admitted to Heidelberg University for the first time. During World War I and after, Jewish refugees from Poland settled in Heidelberg, founding their own congregation. The Jewish population reached a maximum of 1,421 in 1925 (it dropped to about 1,100 when the Nazi's came to power).
This would all change in 1933, when the Nazi's came to power in Germany. Immediately, Jewish professors were dismissed from the University. Jewish children were isolated in separate classrooms in the public school, and by the end of 1938 Jewish businesses had been completely "Aryanized" (taken over by non-Jews). In an attempt to destroy the Jewish presence in Germany, the Nazi government orgastrated anti-Jewish violence around Germany and Austria. Though it was intended to look like a spontanous act of anger by German citizens aganist the Jews, in reality it was almost entirely carried out by members of the SA (Nazi Storm Troopers) and the Gestapo (Nazi Secret Police). Kristallnacht saw the destruction in a single night of more than a thousand Synagogues, the ransacking of tens of thousands of Jewish businesses and homes and more than 30,000 Jewish men were rounded up and taken to concentration camps (most were later released).
In Heidelberg, the Synagogue, built in 1878 (photo above right), was torched and burned. As firemen, who were ordered not to put the fire out unless it spread to non-Jewish homes, watched the roof collapsed (Jewish homes and stores around Heidelberg were also heavily damaged). The next morning, there was only the four walls surrounding smoldering ruins (link to picture). The following day, 150 Jewish citizens were shipped to Dachau Concentration Camp outside Munich. Religious articles and Torah scrolls were subsequently destroyed by university students. About 800 Jews emigrated from Germany by the start of World War II. Almost 400 Jews were sent to concentration camps during the war where many died.
About 100 Heidelberg Jews were saved from the camps by the Evangelist pastor of the Heiliggeistkirche, Hermann Maas (who had already faced harsh criticism as a "Jew-lover"), who arranged to get them out of Germany. Later in 1943, Mass was forced out of his church for his activism by the Nazis. In 1944, he was sent to a forced-labor camp in France which was later liberated by the U.S. Army (He was recognized by Yad Vashem in 1967 as one of the Righteous among the Nations and was the first non-Jewish German to be officially invited to the newly formed state of Israel).
Heidelberg does not have its own football (soccer) franchise in the German Football League. However, the SV Sandhausen team is just south of the city. They play in the 11,544 seat Waldaustadion. The club was founded during World War I and has always played at a lower amateur level. After winning championships of the Baden-Württemberg football league in 1995 and 2000, they were moved up into the Regionalliga Süd (III), which currently is the fourth tier of football in the German football league system. Back in 2006, plans to merge SV Sandhausen with two other clubs to create FC Heidelberg 06 never materialized.
The closest professional hockey team is Adler Mannheim which is the city of Mannheim about 13 miles to the west. Die Adler Mannheim, or Mannheim Eagles (Adler is the German word for Eagle), is probably the most successful professional hockey team in Germany today. They started out as The Mannheimer ice and roller skating club (Mannheimer Eislauf und Rollschuhclub) on May 19, 1938. They started up again after the Second World War in 1948. Adler Mannheim were champions of the German Bundesliga, the predecessor of the Deutsche Eishockey-Liga in 1980. After the Deutsche Eishockey-Liga (German Ice Hockey League - the highest level in Germany) was founded in 1994, the Mannheim Eagles were able to win the championship five more times in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2007. They also won the German Cup in 2003 and 2007 and were the Vice-Cup winner in 2006.
Currently, the team plays at the 13,600 seat SAP Arena, one of the biggest arenas in Germany and one of the most modern in Europe, where they moved at the beginning of the 2005/06 season after having played at Eisstadion am Friedrichspark for nearly seven decades from 1938 till 2005. Adam Hauser, a goalie from Minnesota, is one of two Americans on the 2007-08 roster.
Eating and Drinking in Heidelberg
There are many places to eat and drink in Heidelberg. Many of the restaurants are along the Hauptstrasse (on the Fußgängerzone) or in the squares around the city. One place I enjoyed was the Vetted Alt Heidelberg Brauhaus. Its at Steingasse 9, not too far from the Karl Theodore Bridge and our hotel. They brew their own beer in large copper vats in the restaurant. It has old wooden floors, high ceilings decorated with massive bundles of dried hops and of course the two gigantic brew vats that are connected directly to the tap at the bar. Needless to say, Debbie did not try one. The place is usually very busy. The food is very good also.
They also serve a beer called the "Vetted 33" which I didn't try. It is a dark, malty beer that they claim is the strongest beer in the world with a 10.5% alcohol content (it has a 33 on the Plato scale which is used to measure the density of beer - this is mostly used in Europe - bet you didn't know that).
Another beer I had here was Palmbräu bier which is brewed by Palmbräu Zorn Söhne in nearby Eppingen. They served it at one of the restaurants we ate along the Hauptstrasse.
Here is Debbie enjoying one of Germany's famous
ice cream deserts - they love chocolate here also
Here is Frank enjoying a Palmbräu bier
at one of the outdoor patios on Hauptstrasse.
Hotel Zum Ritter St. Georg
When I first visited Heidelberg in 1980's, I was impressed with the Hotel Zum Ritter St. Georg. It is a beautiful old Renaissance age hotel on the Fußgängerzone, at Hauptstrasse 178, across from Die Heiliggeistkirche and the Market Square. When I came here this with Debbie, I wanted to stay here. So, I booked a room for us here.
The Hotel Zum Ritter St. Georg, then called the haus Zum Ritter, was constructed in 1592 for the family of a rich French Huguenot cloth merchant, Carolus Belier and his wife Francina who had come to Heidelberg to escape religious persecution. It is a five-story gable house made of sandstone. It is full of fluted columns and ornately carved window blocks. The inscription, “Persta invita Venus” are inscribed in gold letters on the gable of the facade, built in the German Mannerist style. The vaulted rooms on the ground floor and in the cellar were originally storage rooms for Belier's wares, which could then be laid out for sale on the folded-down window shutters on the ground floor. It is one of the few structures in heidelberg to have survived the destruction of the Thirty Years' War. In 1681, it was converted into a hotel. Being one of the few town houses that survived almost unharmed, it was used as the Town Hall from 1693 to 1703.
In front of the hotel is a bronze colored sign showing St. George slaying the dragon. The elevator here is interesting. It is very small and appears to have been built to conform to the architecture of the building. Our room was incredibly ornate. It was just what I expected it to look like. There are three separate restaurants in the hotel, the "Belier" or the "Ritterstube" (we ate in this one). Both are wood paneled and have old-world charm.
visitors since April of 2008
This website was created on April 12, 2008