Schloss Heidelberg (Heidelberg Castle)

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY –  Want to take a drive to a castle? Let me just say, the answer to this question is always yes. A friend of mine had her cousin visiting and she invited me to tag along and boy am I glad I did.

Heidelberg is about 90km south of Frankfurt and the drive is quick since the route is on a stretch of road that has no speed limit. On the way out there I kept thinking we must be close because there were several other castles littered along the roadway. This is when I came up with the idea of Castle Tuesday. I think every Tuesday we should visit a new castle (I know, my life sounds terrible).

The Heidelberg Castle has a rich history dating back to 1300. The architecture seems to be a bit of a hodgepodge as each building is built in a different style of german architecture. The castle today is in ruins. In 1764 it was  destroyed by lightning and has been uninhabited since. These ruins are so beautiful that several writers and artists including Mark Twain, William Turner and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe have been inspired when visiting the Heidelberg.


In his book, “A Tramp Abroad” Mark Twain described this tower. “One of these old towers is split down the middle, and one half has tumbled aside. It tumbles in such a  way as to establish itself in a picturesque attitude. Then all it lacked was a fitting drapery, the Nature has furnished that; she has robed the rugged mass in flowers and verdure, and made it a charm to the eye. The Standing half exposed its arches and cavernous rooms to you, like open, toothless mouth there, too, the vines and flowers have done their work of grave. The rear portion of the tower has not been neglected either, but is clothes with a clinging garment of polished ivy which hides the wounds and stains of time. Even the top is not left bare, but is crowned with a flourish group of trees & shrubs. Misfortune has done for this tower what it has done for the human character sometimes -improved it.”



View from the back terrance of the castle looking down on the Neckar River and valley

Inside the castle walls you find the world’s largest wine barrel. The barrel was built in 1751 and stands 7 meters (23 feet) hight, 8 and a half meters wide (28 feet), and holds 220,000 liters (58,124 gallons) of wine. Conveniently, there is a dance floor built on top of the barrel.

The legend goes that the court jester who guarded the barrel was known for his ability to drink large quantities of wine and earned his nickname Pereko because when ever he was asked, “Another glass of wine” and he would always reply, “Perche no” or why not in Italian.  The story goes that Pereko  mistaking drank a glass of water and this killed him.


When we first walked into the castle we saw a large wine barrel that we thought was it, but when we turned the corner we realized we were very wrong.


The World’s Largest Wine Barrel. It was very hard to capture the barrels enormity but here is an attempt.


Court Jester Pereko who guards the wine barrel.

Three times a year (the first Saturday’s of June and September and the 2nd Saturday of July) there is a fireworks display honoring the 3 times in the castle’s history it went up in flames (1689, 1693 and 1764). The first two times were due to wars with the French, and the last time by lightning. Hopefully, we will have another post from one of these nights!

In the meantime enjoy a few more photos from the castle.


Fountain of Neptune in the Hortus Paltinus. Located in the gardens of the Hedelberg Castle



Me from the back terrance. I am sure if he was alive Mark Twain would write extensively about this view. 🙂


View of the castle from across the Neckar River



The outer wall of the castle. The grass area below served as a mote and the open tower was used as a prison and in German was called “never empty”


Another view of the outer wall of the castle.


Again Mark, where are you?!


Reading wish list:

A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain

Ginkgo Poem, Goethe

Elizabeth Stuart: Winter Queen and Queen of Hearts. The Curse on Heidelberg Castle, Gault MacGowan



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