A Day at Heidelberg Castle
Updated: Mar 20
If the allure of the world’s largest wine barrel isn’t enough to woo you to Heidelberg Castle, consider the dreamy views of the lush Neckar Valley from the site’s majestic perch over this charming city. From this romantic vantage point, visitors can drink in the green forests and ponder life’s biggest questions, like the philosophers who strolled the famous Philosophenweg, on the opposite bank of the Neckar River.
When you spend a day exploring the enchanting, red sandstone ruins of Schloss Heidelberg, you’ll be as inspired and smitten as artists and poets who took their inspiration from the area, including Mark Twain, Victor Hugo and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Here’s how to spend a magical day at one of the most romantic settings of the German Castle Road.
How to Get to Heidelberg Castle
From the foot of the castle hill, you can hike up to the site, or take the cable car up the rise. At just under a mile, this is the longest cable car route in Germany. If you have spare time after visiting the castle, hop back on the cable car and ride 1,804 feet farther up to Königstuhl.
What to See at Heidelberg Castle
Marvel at the elaborate sculptures still visible on the facade, which pay homage to German rulers from antiquity, through Roman rule, to Elector Otthenreich. Take a guided tour to peek at the elaborate fireplace, door jambs, colonnades and ballroom that have survived the centuries. This is also where you’ll find the Imperial Hall, where Otteheinrich lived between 1556 and 1559.
Knights’ Hall (Herrensaal)
Visit the Knights’ Hall, one of the oldest structures in the castle, located on the ground floor of the Ruprecht’s Wing. Notice the coat of arms decor and the load-bearing center column that still stands from the 15th century.
Wine Cellar (Fassbau)
Dating to 1590, this wine cellar holds the largest wine barrel in the world - the Heidelberg Tun - which holds 58,124 gallons of wine. Sadly, you won’t be able to partake of any actual wine from the barrel, but it’s certainly impressive to witness. Elevated walkways give you a close-up view of the vessel.
Fun fact: Napoleon’s armies weren’t aware that the wine vat had been drained and emptied long before their arrival on the site. Look for the visible axe marks from their attempts to break into the barrel!
Marvel at the resplendently decorated facade and the castle chapel within the Freidrich Building, one structure that was not completely destroyed by the French armies of Sun King Louis XIV. The wing was restored around 1850, with the addition of a small museum, followed by renovation of the staterooms in 1893. Take a tour to fully experience the ornamented wooden ceilings, door trim and floors, designed in Renaissance style by regional artists in the late 19th century.
Step out to the Great Terrace for an incredible view of Heidelberg’s historic district below. On a more somber note, but wildly romantic, the Great Terrace is the site of a shoe-shaped imprint said to have been left by a brave knight who leaped from a window of the Freidrich Wing. The legend suggests that the lady-in-waiting at the time was entertaining said knight and when caught in flagranti, the knight stole out the window, leaving a deep impression on the sandstone.
Romance Amongst the Ruins
Despite lying in a state of partial ruin, Heidelberg Castle has a romantic, storied feel to it that in some ways makes it even more “castle-like” than some of the best-preserved fortresses in the region. Take a guided tour to hear all the stories and explore all the nooks and crannies of this lasting symbol of German Romanticism.
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