Timeless authors including Mark Twain and Victor Hugo drew inspiration from Heidelberg, Germany’s red sandstone ruins, green forests and fascinating history.
Heidelberg Castle was built at the beginning of the 13th century and eventually grew to two castles by the next century. Unfortunately, 400 years later the French armies of Sun King Louis XIV burned them to the ground.
By the 19th century, there were many discussions to restore the castle to its former glory and the Grand Duchy of Baden even established a “Castle Field Office” to develop plans to preserve and repair the main buildings. These were, after all, some of the most important and majestic Renaissance structures in the world. However, upon review, these plans were decided as not feasible and only the Friedrichsbau (which was the one structure not completely destroyed) saw a restoration.
Visitors can still visit the Ottheinrich Building in the Palace where elaborate sculptures on the façade still stand, memorializing German rulers, figures from antiquity and Roman rule, and even Elector Otthenreich himself. An artistically designed fireplace, door jambs, and colonnades as well as a ballroom survive. The castle is also home to the German Apothecary Museum, Palace Gardens, a Goethe memorial tablet, and two restaurants.
After castle exploring you might be getting a bit thirsty and the Great Vat, aka the Heidelberg Tun, will be a welcome sight – even if you can’t drink from it.
The vat is the world’s biggest wine barrel, with the ability to hold over 58,000 gallons of wine. Unaware that the wine vat had long been drained and emptied, even Napoleon’s armies tried to get in on the wine fun, attempting to break through the barrel – their axe marks are still evident! (Literature lovers will remember that it is referenced in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick – as well as works by Mark Twain and Washington Irving).
Heidelberg Castle is a not-to-be-missed destination when sailing along the Rhine which you can see on multiple AmaWaterways itineraries.
Contact us for more details and discover the beauty of Heidelberg Castle and many other unique experiences onboard an AmaWaterays cruise!