Caravan Sonnet: Heidelberg Castle (Schloss Heidelberg) // Germany

3/12/18

Heidelberg Castle (Schloss Heidelberg) // Germany

On our fourth day of our Rhine River cruise we had the amazing opportunity to spend the day exploring Heidelberg and the Heidelberg Castle in Germany. This was the first day of 2018 and it was special to spend this first day exploring this beautiful place. 
Heidelberg Castle (or Schloss Heidelberg) is a beautiful castle ruin that is among the most important Renaissance structures that exists north of the Alps. It is located high on the northern part of the Konigstuhl hillside and can be accessed by walking to it or taking a funicular railway that runs during certain times of the year. 
The earliest structure of the castle was built sometime before 1214 and was later expanded into two castles. In 1537 a lightening bolt struck the upper castle and destroyed it. While they say lightening never strikes twice, this is not the case as another lightening bolt struck the castle in 1764 which caused some of the rebuilt sections to be destroyed. 
The first mention of a castle in Heidelberg Germany is in 1214. This came when Louis I who was the Duke of Bavaria who received it from Emperor Friedrich II. At the time it was listed as a single castle and remained known as a single castle until 1294. Less than a decade later (in 1303) two castles were mentioned. 
Over the centuries many people looked to expand the castle. For example, in 1401, when Ruprecht became the King of Germany the castle was still incredibly small. Due to this the story says that when he returned from his coronation he had to camp out at the monastery (where the University Square is now) because there was not enough room for his entourage and guests. He desired to expand the castle not only for this sake but also due to the need of turning the castle into an indefensible property. Sadly, he died 9 years later before he could see this come to fruition. At that time his land was divided between his four sons and the castle went to his eldest son, Ludwig III. 
Despite various attempts the castles construction came to an end during the Thirty Years War when fighting took place against the castle. From that time on the castle would endure constant times of destruction and rebuilding the existing structures. 
Over the centuries the question became whether or not the castle should be completely restored or only partially restored. In 1868 the poet, Wolfgang Muller von Konigswinter argued for a complete reconstruction, but this was met with incredible disagreement in public meetings and the press. In 1883 construction began on preserving and repairing the entire castle. Seven years later much of the work was completed, but the entire castle was not repaired as a commission of specialists from across Germany declared that it would be impossible to do so. At this time it was decided that only the Friedrich Building, whose interiors had suffered damage but had not been completely ruined would be restored. Over a period of three years (from 1897 to 1900) this was done at the extravagant cost of 520,000 Marks. Despite the extreme cost the castle continues to be one of the most visited in the world with nearly 3 million visitors each year.
For our tour we spent most of the time in the Ottheinrch building in Heidelberg Castle. This section counts as one of the most beautiful and earliest palace buildings that exist from the German Renaissance. As you can see in the pictures throughout this post there are many sculptures that adorn the facade of this building. You can go inside (we did not do so on our tour) and in the interior the the high quality decor from the time of construction has been kept. 
Originally, this four story building was the center for the living areas, an audience hall, and the Knights' Hall along with a ballroom (Imperial Hall). Ottheinrich ordered the construction of this unique and beautiful building during his brief period of rule from 1556 to 1559. It was completed by his successor, Friedrich III ten years later. 
The elaborate and decorative figures on the facade were created by Alexander Colin who was a Flemish sculptor. The ruler's image of not only himself, but his political program were immortalized in stone in this area. 
After spending time in the Ottheinrch building we then spent time walking out onto the balcony area where we could see Heidelberg. 
It was really neat to be able to see the old town area of Heidelberg, a place that we went and visited after our visit to the castle. 
You could see for miles. It was a magnificent view! 
It was incredibly special to spend time at this castle with my best friend, my mom, on the first day of the new year! 
After spending time taking in the views we headed back to conclude our tour. Before we did we spent some time in the Elsabethentor section of the castle. 
This gate was constructed (as were other details in the castle) for Elisabeth Stuart ("the winter queen") who was Frederick V's wife. Elisabeth, who was the granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the oldest daughter of James VI of Scots (later James I of England), had grown up mostly in England and learned fluent French and Italian. Elisabeth was long admired for her beauty and her father considered many husbands for her, aiming for the most political advantage that he could obtain. He chose Frederick who was the leader of a group of protestant rulers in Germany, believing that this would be a wonderful political alliance. Despite the intent of marrying only for political advantage the two were said to instantly fall in love during their first meeting. 
Meeting when they were just 16 years old, their marriage and love story would become one of the greats from this time period- even marrying on Valentines Day in 1613. They later had 13 children together and by all accounts were incredibly happy. 

Our time at the Heidelberg Castle was truly wonderful and I would definitely encourage you to add it to your travel bucket list if you haven't seen it already!Curious to find out more about our trip that we took with Viking Cruises in December & January? Click on the posts below:

3 comments:

  1. Wow! This looks and sounds amazing!

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    1. Thank you! It was truly beautiful!! I hope that you get to visit it someday!! It is a magnificent castle!! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I hope you have a wonderful day!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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