Heidelberg Castle is one of over 90 castles along Germany’s Castle Road. The castle sits 300 feet above the city on Konigstuhl Hill overlooking the Neckar River. The castle was first mentioned in 1214. It has experienced two wars and two lightning strikes. During the second lightning strike the residence caught fire and the castle was destroyed.
Heidelberg Castle was the subject of poets and writer’s in the 1800’s. In A Tramp Abroad Mark Twain described it as ‘deserted, discrowned, beaten by the storms, but royal still and beautiful’. Artists began to paint the castle ruins. Over the years Heidelberg Castle became a symbol of German Romanticism. Today it has over one million visitors a year.
The Palace Gardens
The Palace Gardens were constructed in 1693. They were built upon terraces and consisted of a grotto, ponds, waterfalls, sculptures, mazes and flower beds. The garden was so elaborate many considered it the eighth wonder of the world. It was destroyed during the war but continues to provide beautiful views of Heidelberg and the Neckar River.
The Barrel Room
The Heidelberg Tun is the world’s largest wine barrel. It was built in 1751 from 130 trunks of oak. The vat is seven meters high, eight and half meters wide and holds 220,000 liters of wine. There is a dance floor built atop the barrel and visitors are invited to climb the stairs for a quick dance. Farmers were taxed by wine; the wine was collected and stored in the vat. The vat was connected to the throne hall by a pump system. There was an endless supply for guests. Be sure to stop in the castle’s wine cellar and taste the regions Reislings before you leave.
You can reach the castle by funicular or take the steep footpath of 315 steps to top. Be sure to check the schedule of events when planning your visit. Castle Illuminated and fireworks occur every June, July and September. There is also a Castle Festival of theater and concert performances in the summer months.