Heidelberg Castle and the largest wine barrel in the world


Heidelberg Castle - the main residence of the rulers of Kurpfalz until the end of the 17 century. It is built on the slope of Mount Königstuhl near the city of Heidelberg. The castle has become one of the masterpieces of medieval architecture and a popular attraction of the city. Its basement still houses the largest wine barrel on the planet.

Where is

Heidelberg Castle is located in the eastern part of Heidelberg, in the southwestern part of modern Germany.

Heidelberg castle
Heidelberg Castle. View from above

A bit of history

The city of Heidelberg is mentioned in the 1196 year. But the castle only in the 1225 year. Then Ludwig I received it as a feudal plot.

It is noteworthy that in the 1294 year it is said about one castle, and in the 1303 year it is about two. They were divided into upper and lower. According to historians, the first built the upper castle. But what we call the Heidelberg Castle is already the bottom. And it was supposedly built in 1294 - 1303 years.

At the beginning of the 17 century, Roman troops captured the castle. The Swedes conquered it in the 1633 year. I must say that during the fighting, the castle was badly damaged.

One of the towers of Heidelberg Castle
One of the destroyed towers of Heidelberg Castle

From 1689 to 1693, Louis XIV troops repeatedly attacked Heidelberg. In 1693, the French laid powerful charges under the walls of the castle, which almost wiped it off the face of the earth.

They tried to restore the castle, but the work was slow. 24 June 1764 year, a lightning strike set fire to the building and actually stopped the restoration process.

In 1777, the ruler of Bavaria was Karl Theodor. He moved his residence to the new Mannheim Palace. By this time, Heidelberg Castle was badly destroyed. The remnants of the castle, after Karl left, the townspeople began to disassemble for their own needs.

Interesting fact - The famous Roman Coliseum in the time of his oblivion.

Now Heidelberg Castle is partially restored and is one of the state historical monuments of Germany.

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Who saved Heidelberg Castle

The castle is in relatively good condition. It is worth saying thanks for this to the French Count Charles de Gremberg. It was he who helped preserve the remains of the castle for posterity. He opposed the government of Baden, which considered the castle "tasteless ruins." If it were not for the count, then most likely the castle would have been completely destroyed.

Arriving in Heidelberg at the beginning of the 19 century, the Count stayed here and voluntarily and gratuitously looked after the castle ruins until the end of his life. He contributed to the creation of the first castle guide, attracting tourists.

Discussing the restoration of the castle, at the end of the 19 century, they decided that its complete reconstruction is impossible. But the remaining buildings were strengthened as much as possible. Work took place from 1897 to 1900 year under the leadership of Karl Schaefer.

Heidelberg Castle Ruins
Not all is well preserved to this day.

Features and attractions of the castle

Ruprechtsbau - one of the oldest buildings in the Heidelberg castle. It was built during the time of Ruprecht III at the beginning of the 15 century.

For a long time it was believed that the history of Heidelberg Castle began with this building. But, during archaeological research of the late 19 century, fragments of Romanesque and early Gothic architecture were found. Thus, the construction of the castle dates back to the 13 century.

Ruprechtsbau - the building of the times of the ruler Ruprecht III
The building of the times of ruler Ruprecht III

Friedrichsbau - the first palace of the castle. On its ground floor there is a small church, which is still well preserved. The upper floors of the building were used as living space.

After the devastating fires of 1693 and 1764, this part of the castle was severely damaged, but not destroyed. From 1890 to 1900, Friedrichsbau was restored in a medieval style. But his rooms were no longer used as housing, but functioned as a museum.

Friedrichsbau - the building of the times of Frederick V
Palace of the times of Frederick V

Garden of Eden

Frederick V, taking Elizabeth Stewart as his wife, ordered the Garden of Eden to be set up at the castle. He was called "Hortus Palatinus."

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It was believed that the garden should be a copy of the Garden of Eden from the Bible. There were beautiful fountains, beautiful alleys and many trees, some of which were very rare for the local climate.

Heidelberg Castle Fountain
The surviving fountain of the Garden of Eden

Heidelberg Wine Barrel

A huge wooden barrel is stored in the basement of the castle. This is the largest wine barrel on the planet and one of the most interesting objects of the castle. Its volume is 219000 liters (according to other sources 212000 liters). But in the 18 century, when it was created, the volume was even greater. For a couple of centuries, the barrel has dried out by about 2 700 liters. In fact, the Heidelberg barrel was empty most of the time. That is why its volume has decreased.

Heidelberg Wine Barrel
Heidelberg barrel

This colossal barrel was made in 1751 by order of Karl Theodor. In those days, the construction of huge wine barrels became fashionable. Many German cities and villages competed in the production of such extraordinary vessels. To create the largest wine barrel, master Michael Werner used over 130 oak trunks.

Interestingly, the first large barrel in Heidelberg appeared back in 1591, provoking the Duke of Ludwig from neighboring Württemberg to build an even larger barrel in the Ludwigsburg Palace. Ludwigsburg barrel was the largest in the world. But Karl Theodor surpassed him with his Heidelberg barrel. It was already the fourth wine barrel of Heidelberg.

Initially, the Heidelberg keg was used to store wine that wine growers in the region paid as taxes to the Bavarian ruler. But after 10 years the barrel began to flow. After several attempts at repair, they decided not to fill it with wine. In fact, it has become one of the attractions of the castle.

Heidelberg Castle and the largest wine barrel in the world
On the other side of the Heidelberg barrel there is a staircase leading to its upper part

Legend of the heidelberg barrel

It is believed that when French soldiers occupied Heidelberg Castle, a giant barrel attracted their attention. They tried to open the barrel and try the wine. But no matter how hard they tried, they did not succeed. They say that on the barrel there are traces of attempts to open it. The only small “but” spoils the whole story. The French captured the castle in the 1689 year, and the barrel itself was built only in the 1751 year.

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Heidelberg Castle in Tourism

Since the 19 century, both the city of Heidelberg and its castle have become popular tourist destinations in Germany. The booming tourism has been observed here since the 1840 of the year, when a railway was laid to the city.

Each year, Heidelberg (with a population of about 150 000 inhabitants) is visited by up to 1 million tourists. Most of the visitors are Japanese and Americans.

Heidelberg Castle inside
Inside Heidelberg Castle

In the old part of the castle from the time of King Ruprecht, you will see a Renaissance fireplace. There are also sculptures of angels.

Of considerable interest is the restored house of Frederick. Its facade is decorated with many statues of former rulers.

Sculptures of the palace of Heidelberg castle
Sculptures of rulers on the facade of the palace of Heidelberg castle

The castle can host wedding events. To do this, you need to agree in advance with the administration. More than 100 couples marry each year in the territory of Heidelberg Castle. It is worth remembering that the ceremony is held according to Catholic canons.

An interesting fact - Heidelberg Castle is often called the "most legendary ruins" in Germany. At different times he was visited by Martin Luther, Mark Twain and Victor Hugo.

Address: Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.

Opening hours: daily 8.00 - 20.00 without booking service.

Detailed information about the opening hours and the cost of visiting can be found on the official website of the Heidelberg Castle at schloss-heidelberg.de.