One of the most popular ways to enjoy the history and culture of Europe is by visiting a castle. Europe is filled with amazing castles some dating back thousands of years. Not all castles are the same. Each offers its own unique story, some happy and some quite violent or sad, some romantic and some bizarre. No matter what their tale, these historic destinations represent some of the most famous of all attractions throughout the region including one of the most visited and well-known in Germany, the Heidelberg. Christy Spensberger invites you to come with us as we take a closer look at the story of this popular destination for travel.
Welcoming close to a million visitors each year, Heidelberg Castle is one of Germany’s most noted and significant Renaissance structures north of the Alps. First built in the 13th century, the structure which we see today is mostly from the 18th century after fires and wars damaged the original structure.
The story of this castle dates back to around 1300 when it was first mentioned by a count visiting the region. By the late 14th century however, the castle had gone from nothing to special to a residence fit for a prince in fact, Prince Elector Ruprecht III lived here from 1398 until 1410. Destroyed during a storm in 1764, it was not until the year 1800 that reconstruction finally began again. Much of the castle was lost during the storm however, over the next 20 years, more of the castle was destroyed as many residents of nearby Heidelberg (the town), would use stones from the castle for their own homes.
Today, Heidelberg Castle has once again been restored to its former glory and millions come to see and explore the history, the beauty and the romance of this stunning structure. Nestled on a hill some 300 feet above the city of Heidelberg, the views from the castle are as famous as the story behind the castle and the castle grounds themselves. From this vantage point, visitors can enjoy views not only of the city below but the Neckar River, the Valley and even as far as the Rhine Plain. It is said that on a clear day, one can see as far as Mannheim, almost 14 miles away.
When visiting, there are a number of sites you will want to see including the castle gardens. Dating back to the 1600’s, these lovely gardens were regarded as a masterpiece of their time and remain so today. The Heidelberg Tun or the world’s largest wine barrel is also located here. Built in 1751, it was used to store the wine which was paid to the count for taxes by the wine growers of the area. The Apothacary museum and several special events throughout the summer offer other opportunities to enjoy the history of the region as well.
When you travel to Germany and other parts of Europe, be sure you spend time getting to know amazing sites and areas of interest like this to truly immerse yourself in the unique aspects of the region. You will be glad you did.