Why Heidelberg castle will make you fall in love?

Its all about poetic perfection…

Located about 90km south of Frankfurt, is a pretty little town, lucky enough to escape destruction by air raids in World War II, and luckier to have over $125 million invested for further restoration. Heidelberg is one of the hottest destinations in Germany, visited by three million tourists every year. So, if you haven’t been there already, add it to your list. NOW!

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We took our first breathtaking view of the picture-perfect town from the impressive Old Bridge, (Alte Brücke) spanning the river Neckar. In the middle ages, its arched gateway would have been the entrance to the ramparts of the Old Town. Today, though the original wood structures have been destroyed, the stone structure from the 18th century and the cylindrical Baroque-style tower helmets are still remarkably well preserved.

Crossing over to the opposite side of the river, we surveyed the magnificent sight…the medieval arches of the bridge, the crumbling facade of a castle standing tall high up on the hill, defying time and age, and the nestling of quaint houses punctuated by church towers. The most endearing image in all of Germany. River cruises slid silently past with tourists scanning the enchanting town, which had inspired innumerable poets and artists of the Romantic Era. It was here that Schumann’s pianist skills had bloomed and I could well understand why. Celebrated author Mark Twain once said: “I have never enjoyed a view which had such a serene and satisfying charm about it as this one gives.” I agreed…and even feel some kind of pride in the fact that I had shared a moment with Mark Twain. A moment separated by centuries, but a moment, nevertheless.

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The splendour of the castle against the Alte Bruck (Courtesy: Wikipedia)

We had saved a leisurely half-day exclusively for the imposing Heidelberg castle. A few minutes walk from the left end of Marketplatz took us to the spacious and picturesque square of Kornmarkt. Beyond the central statue of Madonna and baby Jesus, enticing us from atop Heidelberg’s local mountain, the King’s Chair (Konigstuhl) was the fairytale Heidelberg Castle and palace. The Bergbahn, a 100-year plus old funicular cable rail system whisked us up in a flash.

We took our time to gloat over the massive complex, containing the broken remains of the Gothic-Renaissance castle. This had been the glittering residence of the Palatinate prince electors of the Wittelsbach family for five centuries. At the tourist centre where we picked up our audio guides, posters announced various historical tours and music festivals. The royal family would certainly have not taken kindly to unwanted visitors…but in the interest of cultural preservation, tourism is a necessary evil.

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Our exploration began at the main entrance of the castle into the former gunpark, later converted by Prince Elector Frederic V into a pleasure garden for his wife Princess Elizabeth Stuart. The rambling ensemble of well- preserved, crumbling ruins overgrown with ivy, collapsed walls and gaping towers silently recounted past conflicts. Through dozens of glassless windows of a stand-alone brick wall, the sky made simple yet brilliant blue portraits.

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I let my thoughts run back to when the castle was bombed into oblivion in 1693 during the Nine Years War…it must have have been like 9/11! Surprisingly, the large inner courtyards and two magnificent palaces still project bygone wealth, power and sophistication. The resplendent sculptures of Roman gods and goddesses, decorative baroque elements and grandiose statues of Holy Roman emperors are in extremely good shape.

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We located the palace cellar housing the famous Heidelberg Tun, a whopper of a barrel, the largest in the world to have ever been filled with wine, with a capacity of 220,017 litres (58,124 gallons). Stairs lead up both sides to the small balustraded dance floor on top. I struck a pose with the plaque of Perkeo the dwarf on the opposite wall, thinking about the cellar master and court jester who drank 18 bottles of wine daily and apparently died from being tricked into drinking a glass of water. Hilarious!

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Outside, vast manicured gardens stretched out in the distance and huge shapely trees punctuated the green vision of perfection. We meandered along the seemingly unending walking paths…the serenity was overwhelming. I felt the desire to lie down on the grass under a shady tree and write a poem. A lone crow cawed from somewhere. A lady passed us from the opposite direction, rolling a pram covered with a plastic rain jacket…in the distance, a man relaxed on a bench, his head buried in a book…locals savouring a lazy morning in the multi-terraced pleasure gardens.

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To pause and to reflect
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Poetic inspiration unlimited
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The epitome of languorous luxury

‘Hortus Palatinus’, was one of the eight wonders of the world of the time, which were never completed. The remaining vestiges of the landscaped terraces, grottoes and fountains built into the hillside hint at the awe-inspiring scale of this earthly paradise. We halted at the bust of the German national hero, Goethe…that brilliant man, Jack of all trades, master of all…equally adept at poetry, writing and works of science and philosophy. I had a vision of him, composing and reciting some of his finest romantic poems to his pretty lady-friend, somewhere nearby under the azure skies.

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Planned layout of the Hortus Palatinus…sheer magnificence left incomplete

At the first sightseeing terrace on the left side, we stared silently at the stunning vista of the baroque Old City with its cluster of red roof houses and the towers and slate grey pointy dome of the Heiliggeistkirche standing proudly. Ahead, the languorous Neckar and the Alte Brucke. Behind us, the ruins of Heidelberg Castle. And all around, the mountains, forests, vineyards of the Rhine valley. This was poetic Germany. And I had a verse in mind!

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97 thoughts on “Why Heidelberg castle will make you fall in love?

  1. Although we were a bit rushed during our visit to Heidelberg Castle last year, I have fond memories of the castle and the view. I also have fond memories of the kebob we ate after our visit. Hopefully we’ll have more time the next time we’re in Heidelberg.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful castle. About a decade ago, I had the opportunity to travel north to south in Germany by car. It was still in the time of paper maps so I had my navigator looking hard for the villages on the map as we passed by. We never did locate ausfahrt despite Urban Urban Dictionary claim “Biggest city in Germany. Almost every Autobahn exit directs to it.” Our visit to Heidelberg was amazing and you have done a fabulous job capturing this incredible place.

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  3. Your pictures are stunning and with your descriptions, I feel like I am there! I’ll definitely add Heidelberg to my to-visit list to experience it for myself.

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  4. Absolutely agreed with you! I had a day trip to Heidelberg in 2013 after taking a short bus ride from Frankfurt. I love the castle and the view of the town as well! 😀

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  5. Congratulations on your 1000 top travel blogs award, in just 5 months that’s amazing and must have been hard work. I’d never heard of Heidelberg or the Heidelberg castle but I’ll make an effort to visit next time I’m in Germany. Your pictures make this place look amazing, you’ve found some great photo spots. It would have been incredible if the Hortus Palatinus was completed, it would have been one of the seven wonders of the world, never mind the 8th.

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    1. Thanks so much…yes, blogging calls for hard work and constant social media activity, its a very tiny step in the right direction, but encouraging for me.
      Heidelberg is truly stunning, and those gardens are really dreamy. You must add it to your German destinations list.

      Like

  6. My Ancestors come from around this region but I am ashamed to say I haven’t visited! But wow, looking at these photos and hearing about this history I really do need to get myself over there! I love Germany as it is, so I can fall back in love with it all over again!

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  7. Thats one beautiful castle. I am amazed at the extent of good repair the place is in. Surely that 1.25Million has done its job. From these amazing pictures it looks you had a blast in the sunny weather. 🙂

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  8. Such a picturesque town Heidelberg is, filled with rich history and architecture worth visiting! Reading your post we regret so much for not visiting Heidelberg during our trip to Germany! The palace looks so splendid..:)

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  9. For a city that gets 3 million visitors every year, I’m surprised I haven’t heard of Heidelberg. It looks like a beautifully charming city and the aerial shot/vantage point of the city looks really nice. The castle looks really impressive and in overall pretty good shape! I didn’t see when the castle was built, though the time period sounds like something in the 15th or 16th century.

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  10. Ah so glad the photo of the massive wine barrel made it. I was fascinated by this when I saw it. LOVED Heidelberg Castle. WE took my parents here as part of a trip. Visited here as we were making our way down the Rhine (in a motorhome). Such a stunning place.

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  11. Just last week I was searching online for the best German castles (I want to visit them all!) and Heidelberg kept cropping up quite a bit! Flights from UK to Frankfurt cost as little as £20 return sometimes so this is definitely a viable option some time soon! I love the view of the city from the Old Bridge!

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  12. I’m loving all your Europe posts for inspiration given I am planning 10 weeks there in 2019 )which sounds so far away lol). Germany will be on our list as The Hubs want to see the bike race in Sachsenring. Heidelberg castle Looks deliglightful and good to know that at only 90k’s from Frankfurt it can be done as a day trip.

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      1. Not 100% sure yet. I have been a few time la but it will be the first time for The Hubs so I want a balance of seeing something new for me and making sure he gets to see the big ticket items as well. So many wonderful places to consider!

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  13. I also visited this castle around 5 years ago, as spent in Frankfurt around 3 weeks for work. But it was in winter and didn’t look as awesome as in your pictures. Thanks for bringing me back some of those memories! Cheers,

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  14. This is a trip we must do! The castle seems full of history and mystery of old times, Germany has so many castles to get lost in and we just have to start looking for them. Thanks for sharing

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  15. Germany is quite beautiful, I have not been there in 15 years but it appears to be equally as charming as I found it back then! I have not been to Heidelberg, but these photo are just stunning. Castles and historical buildings are not something that I am normally drawn to, but somehow in Germany they all feel like places out of storybook.

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  16. You really made Heidelberg look poetic, i believe castles represent the romantic part of Germany. I like the gothic influence, the bridges, the stories, the history. I would love to go there one day, beautiful photos also.

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  17. This post made me want to go there immediately! You’ve shared a lot of trivia about Heidelberg castle but the one that stood out for me is that wine barrel. Wow, that’s really enormous and the story associated with it is definitely funny!

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  18. Liza and I traveled to seven cities in Germany in nine days, which was way too hectic but thank God for the great train system. Heidelberg is indeed beautiful but unfortunately we were there in November and missed both the greenery and the Christmas market. Can’t wait to see your article on the lovely town. We visited the signature chocolate cafe when they were closing for the day and the kind owner reopened just for us. Great memory.

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  19. OMG, I really miss Heidelberg right now. I miss walking around, taking photos, checking souvenirs, entering the shops, sitting beside the Neckar River. Also walking through Alte Brucke. Thank you for posting this. Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

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