Whatever epithets may describe Heidelberg Castle: majestic, legendary, mighty - all this is true, but the structure does not particularly need any further introduction. The locals are proud to live near the monument of architecture, the authorities take care of what is left of the once mighty fortress, and tourists change their routes to take a look at the Heidelberg Castle complex. Ghosts, legends, memories of former decorations, powerful ruins, a complicated history - this is not a complete list of things that will surprise even the most sophisticated tourist.
The first mention of the castle is found in a document of 1225, the second - in 1303, where we speak about 2 castles - upper and lower. Research shows that the Upper Castle was built in 1225, then the Lower Castle in 1303. What we now call Heidelberg Castle - this is the lower part of the structure: there are practically no traces of the upper one - in 1537 it was destroyed by a lightning strike.
The complex was built by order of King Frederick II, who planned to give it to Ludwig I Wittelsbach of the Palatinate. After that, the descendants of Ludwig I. owned the castle for 400 years and gradually destroyed it. After the destruction of the upper part of the castle by lightning, it became clear that the family had no funds for the reconstruction.
The next owner, Frederick V, ordered the construction of the legendary Hortus Palatinus - a variation on the Garden of Eden. In 1688 Frederick gave up his fortune and fled, leaving the wealth to be "torn to pieces." For 2 years the castle was under siege, constantly subjected to artillery attacks, which led to almost total destruction.
Over 3 centuries, the authorities and German benefactors tried several times to undertake the restoration of the castle, which was impossible: the construction was too damaged. Only the part with the Friedrichsbau Palace adjoining it has been restored.
What do visitors need to know?
- The building is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Children can visit the area for free.
- Just wander around the castle is not possible: it is possible only as part of a tour group, which begins every hour. An audio guide is an alternative.
- There is only one way to get there: by bus from Geldenberg, then by a mountain trailer, which takes you directly to the entrance to the castle.
- After Frederick escaped total looting, the castle was saved by Count Charles de Gremberg. He came to town, accidentally got into the castle and stayed here for 50 years, voluntarily and free of charge taking care of the complex.
- For a long time, Heidelberg Castle served as a fortification.
- Martin Luther visited it and left a brief but positive description of the castle in his diary.
- Heidelberg Castle is a favorite place of German newlyweds: a hundred wedding ceremonies are held there every year.
- There is a library, a museum of pharmacy, a museum of the history of Heidelberg Castle and a functioning Catholic chapel.
- In the summer, Heidelberg launches fireworks 3 times to commemorate the fires of 1689, 1693 and 1764.
- Ballrooms and festivals are held in the halls of the restored palace.