One of the first things we research when deciding what to see during our travels, is whether or not castles and palaces are nearby that we can visit. We love the rich history of these structures and the beauty they present- even when in disrepair. The hilltop landmark of Heidelberg, Heidelberg Castle or Heidelberger Schloss, is no exception. Heidelberg Castle, Germany is said to be among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. The red sandstone ruins tower over the Neckar valley and standout against a beautiful backdrop of deep green forests.
Plan at least a day to explore Heidelberg and it’s many attractions. When visiting, it’s worthwhile to not only take a guided tour of the castle, but to visit the gardens, see the huge wine barrel, explore the apothecary museum and take a ride on the funicular railway. And that’s all before visiting the town itself!
Mark Twain described Heidelberg Castle in his 1880 travel book A Tramp Abroad saying:
“A ruin must be rightly situated, to be effective. This one could not have been better placed. It stands upon a commanding elevation, it is buried in green woods, there is no level ground about it, but, on the contrary, there are wooded terraces upon terraces, and one looks down through shining leaves into profound chasms and abysses where twilight reigns and the sun cannot intrude.”
It was so well placed that the earliest castle structure, built in the early 1200’s, was later expanded into two castles. As the home to the King of Germany in 1401, expansion became a necessity. Not only was additional space needed his for court and entourage, but so were additional defenses. In the end, it was no longer a castle, but a fortress.