Heidelberg, Germany

There are two parts of Heidelberg not to be missed. One is the pedestrian walkways of old town. The other is the Heidelberg Castle. The latter is mostly in ruins. But its innate beauty and expansiveness will amaze you.

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1 Elevated View of Old Town in Heidelberg, Germany

Nestled in the Rhine Rift Valley between the Gaisberg and Königstuhl mountains is the medieval Old Town of Heidelberg, Germany. On the left is Holy Spirit Church. The Heiliggeistkirche is located in the market square and took 117 years to build from 1398 – 1515. Spanning the River Neckar is the Karl Theodor Bridge. However, it is usually referred to as the Alte Brücke or Old Bridge so named because it was finished in 1788. This view is from the Belvedere terrace outside the Heidelberg Castle.

Schlosshof 1a, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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2 Neckar Valley in Heidelberg, Germany

Starting in the Black Forest of Germany, the Neckar River flows about 225 miles before reaching Heidelberg and then empties into the Rhine River. Along the way it travels through lush forests, mountains and small, Medieval towns. It is regulated by a series of dams and locks so it is ideal for recreational boats plus cruise ships and large commercial barges.

Schlosshof 1a, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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3 Heidelberg Castle Ruins in Heidelberg, Germany

The magnificent Heidelberg Castle ruins stand majestically on a wooded hill named Königstuhl and nicknamed “The King’s Throne.” Starting in the early 13th century, this was the fortified palace of Palatine counts and later Prince Electors before being repeatedly destroyed during enemy attacks and a lighting strike. On the left is the Englischer Bau which was built in the 17th century. In the center is Prison Tower and on the right is the Gate Tower entrance.

Schlosshof 1a, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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4 Heidelberg Castle Gate Tower in Heidelberg, Germany

Over the Gate Tower, the main entrance to the Heidelberg Castle, are two Medieval knights that were created in 1535. Between them are two Palatine Lions which once held a now missing coat of arms. But maybe this is symbolic not only of the 300 current or former towns, villages and countries that used this lion symbol for their coat of arms but also for the ruined conditions of the Schloss Heidelberg. It was destroyed twice by the French army in the late 17th century, struck by lightning and then picked apart as a quarry for building materials.

Schlosshof 1a, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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5 Heidelberg Castle Friedrichsbau in Heidelberg, Germany

On top of the Friedrichsbau, which was built in the early 17th century by its namesake Elector Friedrich IV, is a sandstone sculpture of Lady Justice and in the niches across the façade are the generations of Palatine Prince Electors of the Rhine who ruled the Kingdom of Germany from 915 until 1803.

Schlosshof 1a, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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6 Heidelberg Castle Perkeo Statue in Heidelberg, Germany

Meet Pankert Clemens, a dwarf who was the court jester at the Heidelberg Castle in the early 18th century. He got the nickname Perkeo because of his insatiable thirst for wine. In 1751, he was in charge of the cellar when the Heidelberg Tun was built. Also called the Grosses Fass, it is the world’s largest wooden barrel that held 58,000 gallons of wine and was connected to the castle’s banquet room. Legend says Perkeo never drank any fluids other than wine and when a doctor served him water during an illness he died the next day in his eighties.

Schlosshof 1a, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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7 Heidelberg Castle Ottheinrichsbau in Heidelberg, Germany

From the courtyard of the Heidelberg Castle is the view of the Ottheinrich Building ruins. This palace was built in the mid-16th century during the rule of Elector Otto Henry. Elector Ottheinrich is also credited with establishing the Bibliotheca Palatina which was the foundation of today’s Heidelberg University Library, one of Germany’s biggest and most prestigious collections of books and manuscripts.

Schlosshof 1a, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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8 Heidelberg Castle Palatine Coat of Arms in Heidelberg, Germany

Above the entrance to the Ottheinrichsbau at the Heidelberg Castle is a relief of the Palatine coat of arms. They are flanked by two sandstone caryatids. Beneath this is the entrance to the Apothecary Museum. The Deutsches Apotheken-Museum has a fascinating collection of pharmaceutical equipment and drugs from the 17th through 19th centuries plus a pharmacist’s office and laboratory.

Schlosshof 1a, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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9 Heidelberg Castle David and Goliath Sculpture in Heidelberg, Germany

This sandstone statue of David holding the head of the slain giant Goliath is the work of Alexander Colin, a Flemish master sculptor in the 16th century. It is in a niche of the Ottheinrichsbau at the Heidelberg Castle along with other figures from the Bible, mythical deities and the Virtues.

Schlosshof 1a, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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10 Heidelberg Castle Englischer Bau in Heidelberg, Germany

The façade of the Englischer Bau is a shell of its former glory when it was built in 1614 by Elector Frederick V as a residence for his new wife. It is called the English Building because she was Princess Elizabeth Stuart, the daughter of King James I of England. The building’s roof was destroyed during the Palatine Succession War in the late 17th century.

Schlosshof 1a, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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11 Heidelberg Castle Thick Tower in Heidelberg, Germany

On the west side of the English Building is the Thick Tower, so named because some its walls are up to 23 feet thick. Elector Frederick V had his sitting room in the Dicker Turm which has gorgeous views of the Neckar Valley below. He also entertained his guests in the “Fat Tower” with dinner followed by a theater performance or concert.

Schlosshof 1a, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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12 Palatine Lion Statue in Heidelberg, Germany

From 1085 until 1803, there was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in southwest Germany called the Country Palatine of the Rhine which was ruled by counts and princes. The Electoral Palatine was the first to use this crowned and armed lion as part of their coat of arms. It still is a central element of the Heidelberg flag. This lion statue stands on top of a fountain at Universitätsplatz or University Square.

Hauptstraße 124, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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13 Heidelberg University Library in Heidelberg, Germany

This main building of the Universitäts Bibliothek was built in 1905 yet its first book and manuscript collection began in 1388. Today, it is considered Germany’s top library with over 3.2 million books of which half are so old that they are not in general circulation.

Plöck 107, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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14 Heidelberg University Library Detail in Heidelberg, Germany

The ornate sculptures and ornamentation on the red, sandstone façade of the Heidelberg University Library was the work of three sculptors: Hermann Volz, Hermann Binz and Conrad Keller. The building was designed by a famous Karlsruhe architect named Josef Rudolf Durm. In the center is the Heidelberg University coat of arms which was founded in 1386, making it Germany’s oldest university.

Plöck 107, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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15 Prometheus and Eagle Statue in Heidelberg, Germany

This statue is an ancient deity named Prometheus who was one of several powerful Titans from Greek mythology. The eagle below him is a common symbol for Germany that dates back to around 800 AD. This ensemble stands guard in front of the main entrance to the Heidelberg University Library.

Plöck 107, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
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