The Heidelberg Castle (in German language named: Heidelberger Schloss) is a famous ruin in Germany and landmark of Heidelberg. The castle ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps.
The castle has only been partially rebuilt since its demolition in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is located 80 metres (260 ft) up the northern part of theKönigstuhl hillside, and thereby dominates the view of the old downtown. It is served by an intermediate station on the Heidelberger Bergbahn funicular railway that runs from Heidelberg's Kornmarkt to the summit of the Königstuhl.
The earliest castle structure was built before AD 1214 and later expanded into 2 castles circa 1294; however, in 1537, a lightning-bolt destroyed the upper castle. The present structures had been expanded by 1650, before damage by later wars and fires. In 1764, another lightning-bolt destroyed some rebuilt sections.
Nestled in the hill 300 feet above the city of Heidelberg stands the breath-taking Heidelberg Schloss (castle). The castle is a combination of several buildings surrounding an inner courtyard, put together with a haphazard look. Each building highlights a different period of German architecture.
The castle has a history almost as old as the city itself. The first parts of the castle were constructed around 1300, but it wasn’t before Prince Elector Ruprecht III (1398 – 1410) that the castle was used as a regal residence. Until it was destroyed by lightning in 1764 leaving it permanently uninhabitable, the castle was the residence for most of the Prince Electors. In 1800, Count Charles de Graimberg began the difficult task of conserving the castle ruins. Up until this time, the citizens of Heidelberg had used the castle stones to build new houses.
Just as breath-taking as the castle is from the city, so too is the city from the castle. From either the Great Terrace or the gardens, one has an amazing view of Heidelberg, the Neckar River, and the Neckar valley far into the Rhine plain. On a clear day, Mannheim is even visible on the horizon.
On the lower floor of the Otto Heinrich Building (Ottheinrichsbau), is the Apothecary Museum. This unique museum allows the visitor to learn about the history of the pharmacy and of dispensaries. The collection includes a complete pharmacist’s office, a laboratory, pharmacopoeias, manuscripts, a wide array of vessels, mortars, and technical flasks, and over 1,000 raw drugs representing medicine from the 17th to 19th centuries.
“Eltz Castle is simply what a castle should be. Its solitude and the beauty of its situation stimulate the imagination.” So wrote Georg Dehio, a preeminent 19th century German art historian, about the majestic Eltz Castle or Burg Eltz.
Burg Eltz dates back to some time between the 9th and 13th century. One of the first references to it can be traced to an 1157 document where a gentleman named Rudolf zu Eltz bore witness to a deed of Frederick Barbarossa’s. He lived in the original version of what would become the historic castle, at this time, just a simple manor house in a particularly strategic location above the River Moselle.
Slowly over time, different fortifications were added. The shape of the castle is largely due to the craggy, irregular shaped rock on which it is built.
The Eltz residence was soon divided amongst several heirs, who lived together for a time before fighting each other in a bitter feud. The succession laws of the Holy Roman Empire allowed more than one rightful owner at a time, and none of them had enough money to build their own castle.
This law, along with some fancy Machiavellian marriages and diplomacy have ensured that the Castle has lived to see the modern day with very little change.
With over eighty rooms, forty fireplaces and primitive toilets that flushed with rain water, Burg Eltz was a luxurious getaway for its time!
Heidelberg Castle - Interesting Facts:
*The wine cellar of the castle houses the biggest barrel in the world, holding 55,345 gallons of wine.
*Mark Twain visited the Castle of Heidelberg; a boat trip on the nearby river Neckar allegedly inspired him to write a chapter of Huckleberry Finn.
*Being destroyed several times over the centuries and then partly rebuilt, you can still make out different architectural styles in the ruins.
Hohenschwangau is the older of the two castles (the other one being Neuschwanstein) near Füssen - Bavaria, Germany. Built in the 12th century, it was destroyed by Napoleon and restored by Crown Prince Maximilian 1832-1837 in romanesque style. Ludwig II spent his early years here. The interior is troubadour style, with wall-paintings of Bavarian knights and folk heroes.