When we have visitors at our home, they usually stay for a few days at least. We like to take them to interesting places while they are here. Castles are always a good choice. Castles with indoor tours are a better choice in bad weather. On those wet, cold days, a great destination to visit is Heidelberg castle.
What is Heidelberg castle?
Heidelberg castle is one of the more famous historical sites in Germany. It was first referenced in 1196 as a single castle. In 1303, two castles were referenced for the first time. Martin Luther came to the castle in the 1500s to defend one of his theses.
The thirty years war were fought from 1618 to 1648. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history. The war was mostly fought in what is now Germany. Heidelberg fell in 1622 during the war. Over the following years, the castle was sieged by three emperors, condemned by Pio II and destroyed by Louis XIV, the Sun King.
In 1688, French troops occupied Heidelberg. The French war council ordered all fortifications destroyed to prevent any attacks from this area. On March 2, 1689 they set the castle on fire and blew the front off of the Fat Tower. Four years later, the French were back and finished what they started in 1689. The towers and walls that had survived four years earlier were blown up.
In 1764, lightning struck the lit the castle on fire. In a few hours, the castle was in ruins. There is a legend that near the end of World War II, the Allies diverted bombs from Heidelberg and the castle as they had picked out Heidelberg as a future headquarters after the war.
Visiting the castle
The inner courtyard has a small entrance fee and the tour is another fee, but both are well worth the price. There are frequent tours in English throughout the day. The inner court has an apothecary museum that I always find interesting.
The tour is quite good and takes you through many rooms in the castle. One room has a stage. My son, who was about 9 years old, got up on stage in the banquet hall during the tour. The tour guide said, “oh, we have a new court jester!” I’ll never forget that. One interesting fact about that room is it had a method to bring wine up from wine cellar for serving during meals.
How was the wine?
Wine was a used as a form of tax. Farmers would bring in a percentage of their crop to the castle. It was all mixed together in one giant wine vat. This vat holds 220,000 liters of wine. It is so big, they built a dance floor on top of it. Because the wine was a mixture of many grapes, the quality was not high. What the wine lacked in quality they made up for with quantity. After the tour, you can wander around the castle grounds and see the garden
The castle garden was famous
Salomon de Caus of London created the garden in 1614. In 1620, Salomon de Caus published an essay on the garden that preserved the details of his work. The French destroyed the gardens in 1693. Today, only fragments and restorations of the garden can be found.
Heidelberg is one of the historic landmarks you don’t want to miss. They have a wonderful tour and seeing that wine vat is worth the trip alone. About 100 couples get married in the castle each year so don’t be surprised if you see a wedding. Bring your camera and enjoy this nearby treasure.
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