Category Archives for "Germany"

Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Germany.

Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, Germany

On weekends from September to November, downtown Ludwigsburg engages in revelry celebrating the harvest of the season—pumpkins. Giant pumpkin sculptures designed around a theme take pride of place near the town market in southwestern Germany. There’s also a display of close to 800 types of pumpkins and other squash grown locally in Ludwigsburg. There are pumpkin carving contests and food stalls featuring dishes made using the sweet squash, including what is known as “Germany’s biggest pumpkin soup” that is sold to raise money for charity.


The highlights at the Kurbisausstellung Ludwigsburg (Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival) are the paddlers and the weigh-offs. For the former, participants paddle across Castle Lake in giant hollowed-out pumpkins. Meanwhile, the biggest, heaviest pumpkins battle it out at the Pumpkin Weigh-Offs (the European record holder is a 1054-kilogram specimen from 2014). Winning entries are proudly displayed before being smashed to smithereens by revellers on the last day. Some do it for fun, others to collect the seeds to grow their own prize pumpkin.

Oktoberfest – Munich




If you happen to be partial to the amber ale, as millions of us are, then Oktoberfest is known to you. If you go to join the fun, you’ll discover it’s the beating heart of the beer-swilling world.


Over six million visitors turn up to be a part of the festivities so chances are you’ll run into a few boozy lads but they won’t dominate the fun.


In that case, eat yourself out of a hole with traditional treats like hendl (roast chicken), schweinebraten (roast pork), or schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock).


Before you get into doing your bit with the nearly eight million litres of beer that is drunk here each year, have a go on the amusement rides and sideshow games. Your eye might be slightly out later.

Baltic Coast Germany: White Sands And Crisp Sea



With gabled facades and cobbled streets, this is a small, photogenic city that joined the Hanseatic League in the 13th century, but spent most of the 17th and 18th centuries belonging to Sweden. The entire Old Town is Unesco-listed: check out the carvings in St Nikolai Church, the main square dominated by the 1602 Wasserkunst (waterworks) and the Rathaus Historical Exhibition.

Rathaus Historical Exhibition

Rathaus Historical Exhibition


This vibrant city was once the second-most important member of the Hanseatic League after Lubeck. Its square gables, Gothic turrets, ornate portals and vaulted arches make it a leading example of Backsteingotik (classic red-brick Gothic gabled architecture) in northern Germany. Stralsund’s Unesco-recognised Old Town is on its own island, and its historic streets and many attractions make it an unmissable stop.


A former summer residence of the Dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, this town’s treasures include the Munster- a church on the site of a once-powerful Cistercian abbey, with an intricate high altar and an ornate pulpit. Organ recitals and choir performances are held May to September, usually at 7.30pm on Fridays.



In 1886, the steam train Molli began puffing to Heiligendamm. In 1910, the line was extended along the coast to Kuhlungsborn. Today, Molli still departs Bad Doberan several times daily, showing off the coastal scenery. For an enjoyable walk, get off at Heiligendamm, walk to Steilkuste station and pick up the train again.


Nature lovers and artists will be captivated by this far-flung splinter of land between Stralsund and Rostock, which hosts 60,000 migratory cranes every spring and autumn. The area is picturesque so, not surprisingly, it’s home to an artists’ colony in Ahrenshoop, which has an especially wild and windblown beach.The tiny town of Prerow is renowned for its model-ship-filled seafarers’ church and lighthouse.

Ahrenshoop, Germany

Ahrenshoop, Germany


With its white-sand beaches, chestnut, oak, elm and poplar trees, charming architecture and a national park, Rugen offers myriad ways to enjoy nature. Despite the island’s popularity, its 400-square-mile surface area, fringed by 360 miles of coastline, has plenty of quiet corners. You can enjoy Rugen on a day trip from Stralsund, but consider staying. Sail & Surf Rugen hires SUP boards, catamarans and windsurfing gear, and offers lessons.

Food & Drink


Smoked-fish stands dot Stralsund’s harbour area, but this fish bar has the best of the Baltic and beyond. Choose from the glass-fronted counters, get a beer and wait at a picnic table. People love the fish sandwiches. Around town, drink locally brewed beers by Stortebeker Brewing.


Binz is Rugen’s largest and most celebrated seaside resort, full of ornate Victorian villas, white sand and bluewater, and also home to this top restaurant. Seasonal dishes are combined in menus (one veggie) that delight with their creativity. A relaxed vibe and tables outside let you revel in long summer nights.

FREUSTIL Restaurant

FREUSTIL Restaurant


Gloriously hokey, Karls is a roadside attraction in the cheesiest tradition, eight miles northeast from Rostock. It’s a hodgepodge of petting zoo, playgrounds, cafes, shops and strawberry fields, but what you’re really here for is the fresh strawberry ice cream. Watch staff make preserves, then listen to mechanical bears sing Elvis.

Life Is A Cabaret Through The Eyes Of Europe

Live At Zedel, London – Keeping up Soho’s reputation for late-night adult entertainment, The Crazy Coqs hosts a range of nightly acts in its original Art Deco hall. Its latest, innovative programme includes jazz vocalists, illusionists and comedians, alongside showgirls and drag artists. Classic cocktails, such as gin fizz, add to the period ambience.


Live At Zedel, London

Au Lapin Agile, Paris – Immortalised in Toulouse-Lautrec posters and Picasso paintings, Au Lapin Agile has been the grande dame of the Paris cabaret scene for more than a century. Don’t expect can-can dancers though – a night at this Montmartre institution means traditional French songs accompanied by piano or the wistful lilt of an accordion.

Kleine Nachtrevue, Berlin – Recapturing the hedonistic atmosphere of ’20s Berlin, the Kleine Nachtrevue has been used as a location for many films. This intimate theatre specialises in burlesque shows featuring dark humour, acrobatics and liberal amounts of nudity. A bar and dancefloor lets the good times continue after the performance.

The Night of Witches and Deamons: Walpurgis Night – Harz Mountains, Germany

They’re very witchy and slightly kitschy, but spring festivities in eastern Germany’s Harz Mountains have deep roots in the region’s prehistory

At the end of every April, the quiet, half-timbered towns of Saxony-Anhalt, in eastern Germany, are suddenly overrun. A vast coven of witches, warlocks and minor devils descend in a blur of brooms and face paint for one of Europe’s oddest celebrations: Walpurgis Night.

By mid-morning on the last day of April, the cobbled streets of picturesque Wernigerode are thronging with people in costume. An informal parade snakes up the steep path to the central courtyard of the town’s castle, which was founded in the 12th century. A band called La Marotte (The Crook) is playing a version of medieval funk, while people dressed like extras from Game of Thrones eat bratwurst and drink mead. Pallid with white make-up, Frank Wilhelm from Berlin is here as his alter ego, Necronomos, a warlock who carries a horned skull on a long staff. “It’s cos-play. It’s fun,” he tells me. “It’s like World of Warcraft, but in real life.”


A pair of tiny horns sprout from Rico Bernhagen’s crimson forehead. Rico comes from Hamburg and works in logistics. He’s walking arm in arm with a green-faced witch who’s wearing a six-inch branch on her nose that’s so realistic you expect robins to perch on it. “It took us five hours to get ready,” says the witch, who’s a hairdresser called Carolin Blank. Carolin has to tip her head back so she can sip her beer without getting her prosthetic nose wet.

“She likes to make potions,” says Rico. “She grows herbs in the garden. You know rune stones? She’s very good at those.”

Carolin may dabble in the magical arts, but for most people, Walpurgis, like Halloween, is just a one-day commitment to the supernatural. The event has more to do with drinking beer and having a good time than any real interest in the occult.

From a lookout point on the castle wall, I can see the rounded top of the Brocken, the highest mountain in the Harz range, eight miles to the west. A version of Walpurgis Night is observed in many parts of northern Europe, but the inhabitants of the Harz Mountains claim the Brocken is its epic entre. According to custom, its summit is where Germany’s real witches meet in order to consort with the devil, dance round fires and do unspeakable things with goats.


A witch (Carolin Blank) and devil (Rico Bernhagen)

In fact, the details of this legend don’t go back much further than Germany’s most famous national poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In his masterpiece, Faust, Goethe dramatises a Walpurgis Night celebration taking place on top of the Brocken. Goethe’s Walpurgis Night is funny and quite rude: more Carry On than Aleister Crowley. Clearly, it was never Goethe’s intention to inspire a group of middle-aged motorbike enthusiasts from Berlin to dress up as devils and put on novelty contact lenses. But if his story has proved unexpectedly compelling, it might be because it tapped into a vein of authentic folk belief that predates the coming of Christianity.

Saint Walpurga’s day, 1 May, happens to fall exactly halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Before the church named it after a saint, it was a pagan spring festival, celebrated across Europe with dances, maypoles and ceremonial bonfires. To the Celts, it was the feast of Beltane. Up in the remoter corners of the Harz Mountains, winter tends to cling on for a while and so, perhaps, did old customs. It’s not hard to imagine the region’s newly Christianised inhabitants muttering, ‘Witchcraft!’, when they saw the spring bonfires of their mountain neighbours. Until relatively recently, the suggestion of something uncanny swirled around the ancient woods and those who lived there.

“Harz comes from the Old German word hardt,” says Maik Thiele, who is dressed in monks’ robes and carrying a huge staff. It’s a mountain forest. It means: “Attention! Go not in or you come not out!”

In fact, you’d be foolish not to venture into the forests of the Harz Mountains. They have some of the finest hiking trails in the whole country, with more than 5,000 miles of marked paths through extraordinary scenery. I spent a happy afternoon following the route of the Bode River as it descends from the tiny village of Treseburg.

Berlin Original Stayings: Ackselhaus


Ackselhaus is one of a kind in a city that already thrives on individuality. The 13 rooms and suites, spread over four floors of a 19th-century townhouse in Prenzlauer Berg, are all individually themed and reflect the owner’s love of art and antiques.


Berlin, Germany


Every room is different at Ackselhaus, but all are enormous and quiet, with tall windows, king-size beds and wooden floorboards. Suites include the colourful Picasso, with bull’s head, art books, and paintings adorning the walls; nautical Ocean, made out like a beach hut; and industrial, loft-style NewYork.


A buffet breakfast with plenty of choice is taken in front of the fireplace at the hotel’s restaurant, Club del Mar, a few doors down. It’s available until an extremely civilised 12.30 at the weekends. There are more eateries than you’ll ever need in the neighbourhood; the hearty German dishes at Prater and Gugelhof are particularly welcome on a cold day. Nearby Kollwitzplatz and Kastanienallee both have plenty of choices, from Korean -German fusion at Frăulein Kimchi Kocht to vegan at Lucky Leek.


Prater, Berlin


Various events and exhibitions take place at the Kulturbrauerei cultural complex, in the grounds of an old brewery. These include a Christmas market until 22 December. If you’re here over the weekend, pick up some DDR memorabilia at the Arkonaplatz Sun day market.


The reception isn’t staffed 24 hours, and you’ll be given an entrance code if you arrive after 10 pm. If Ackselhaus is booked, ask about a room in sister hotel Blue Home, attached to Club del Mar.

Stillness in the Black Forest – Bad Antogast

Silence and Epiphany Lurk on the Trails Around Bad Antogast

Going on a ten-day silent retreat in Bad Antogast, a small hamlet on the edge of the Black Forest in Germany, punctuated by a handful of farmers’ houses and terraced fields, was my wife’s idea of a fun vacation, not mine. Left to my own devices, I would have preferred to trace the Alps, hiking a well-known trail and marking it off on my list of accomplishments. I get a kick out of tangible outcomes. My wife suggested I learn to quieten my mind. I was unconvinced. She booked me in anyway.

Located in Germany’s deep south, close to the Swiss and French borders, Bad Antogast is encircled by mountains and forests, making it difficult to reach from any German city. That’s not necessarily a bad trade, for all the clockwork German precision also melts away as one leaves the hustle of the cities behind. Appearing unannounced in a valley, it’s a village custom-built for experiments with reclusiveness. There are no markets to be seen, no traffic. A mineral water spring is the only tourist attraction.

The Silence Retreat is located on a slope. My room was a minimalistic rectangle, the windows of which opened onto the forest. Wooden flooring, thick woollen blankets, and a warm bed turned it into a comforting nest. Cellular network didn’t penetrate its walls.

Everything about the retreat suggested silent enquiry, mostly within. The trouble with wandering minds like mine is that even silent pauses are pregnant with planning. In my free hours, I conspired to mountain bike to the neighbouring villages of Maisach or Griesbach or go looking for the hidden spot, somewhere up in the mountains, from which a sole parasailer sometimes appeared out of thin air and remained hanging in the blue vastness for long hours.

Conversations were difficult to strike up though. Walking past the cowshed next door, I’d spot men separating hay into small heaps for their animals, and women working on the slopes, growing potatoes and cabbage. In this part of the world, they still dress the old German way in lederhosen, the leather pants that last a lifetime. The farmers smiled at me, and treating this as an invitation, I walked up to them to learn more about their lives. They didn’t know English though, and I had never really taken my German lessons seriously. Silence was less of a choice, more a necessity.

To fill the hours of my ten-day stay, I took to walking with the feverishness of a dervish. The trails here gain a gradient as they slant upward, with temperate mixed forest of pine and oak taking over the fir that lines the lower hills. There are no beginnings or ends to the paths. They all seem to merge into one another, before circuiting to the tarmac in the valley below. From the gaping slits in the curtain of trees, thatched huts in pastel hues of red and yellow are visible far out in the valley. After a day of walking, once the sun lost its shape, I would walk back towards one of these huts and curl up next to a fireplace.  The next morning, the cycle would begin again, and I would follow another forest trail. So often was I spotted on the dust-laden tracks zigzagging across the forests that the village folks would wave at me from a distance. For once, in these narrow settings, I became a recognizable figure.


Landscape of Black Forest – Germany

The Black Forest is a neat absorbent. It ingests everything: the sound of my footsteps crushing dry leaves, the vaporous puffing from the efforts of a solitary climb, an orphan grunt from slipping on a wet stone. It transforms these noises into a gentle nothingness, returning not even the slightest rustle. Somewhere on the trail, I stopped to listen. My breath was still heavy from the strain of the climb, and despite the chill, sweat droplets tracked my brow. No birds chirped, even the gurgling of the streams was out of earshot. Stillness dominated.

I noticed that my urge to speak had diluted, and then disappeared. With silence, my perception also sharpened, and I began to notice things that previously would have gone unnoticed. I reflected that people here didn’t blab mindlessly. They spoke in monosyllables and only when needed, as if words were potent vehicles to provide clarity, and should be used sparingly.

I stood soaking in the silence. For once, thoughts failed to bubble up, and the indecisiveness I had carried with me faded away. All I could notice was the several shades of green that prevailed on the thick cover of the trees around. Never before, outside a box of crayons, had I perceived such variety of a single colour. I stayed there looking at the valley till the sun disappeared. And thought of nothing. All the travels I had taken so far, all the flights I had negotiated, had brought me to this one suspended moment. I closed my eyes. The timelessness was comforting.

Getting There

Bad Antogast is 250 kilometres south of Frankfurt, about 5 kilometres from the town of Oppenau. It is a three hour train journey, requiring a change at Offenbur. Taxis from Oppenau to Bad Antogast charge €14. Alternatively, one can fly to Dusseldorf or Basel, in Switzerland, and then take a train to Oppenau. The Silence Retreat is run by the Art of Living Foundation.

Need to Know

Take along winter wear and hiking boots as there is ample opportunity to explore the surroundings. Bad Antogast offers mountain biking and parasailing as well.


Neuschwanstein Castle – Germany

Set amid magnificent mountain scenery on the shores of the Schwansee (Swan Lake), the fairy-tale Neuschwanstein Castle was built in 1869-91 for the eccentric Bavarian King Ludwig II , to a plan by the theater designer Christian Jank. On deciding to build this imposing residence, the king had undoubtedly been inspired by Wartburg Castle in Thuringia, which he visited in 1867. But Neuschwanstein is no ordinary castle-behind the pale gray granite exterior, which combines a variety of styles, the interior is equipped with several late 19th-century technological innovations.


Today, King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845~6) is known above all for his extravagant building projects, which include the royal villa of Linderhof, near Neuschwanstein, and the palace at Herrenchiemsee in eastern Bavaria. While Neuschwanstein was an attempt to re-create the building styles of the Middle Ages (castle building), Herrenchiemsee was inspired by the Chateau de Versailles in France.

Linderhof was originally a hunting lodge which, from 1869 onward, was repeatedly rebuilt, its interior shaped largely by Ludwig’s fantasy world. The main inspiration here, as at Herrenchiemsee, was the French Rococo style of Louis XIV, as is evident from the Gobelin tapestries that adorn the Tapestry Room.


The medieval character of Neuschwanstein is illusory, for hidden behind the facade is what was, for the period, state-of -the-art technology. The royal chambers, for example, all have central heating and there is running water on every floor with both hot and cold water in the kitchens. There is a dumb waiter linking the kitchens with the dining room. The third and fourth floors of the castle even have telephone jacks and an electric bell system, which Ludwig could use to summon his servants and adjutants (assistants).


Ludwig’s choice of interior decor was inspired by the operas of German composer Richard Wagner ( 1813-83). Yet, although Ludwig commissioned set painter Christian Jank to create the interior design, most of the murals depict scenes taken not from operas, but from the same medieval sagas that Wagner himself used as a source. They feature Tannhauser, a poet Lohengrin, the Knight of the Swan, and Parsifal, King of the Holy Grail. Murals in the Singing Room show one of the legendary singing contests held at Wartburg Castle in the 13th century. Scenes from Wagner’s opera Lohengrin (1846-48) decorate the King’s Chambers. Josef Jljgner and Ferdinand Piloty were among the artists employed.

Throne Room


The gilded interior of the throne room is reminiscent of Byzantine temples and the palace church of All Saints in the Residence in Munich.


Two-story arcades surround the castle.



Completed in 1872. this served as temporary accommodation for the king. He had an apartment on the second floor.

Singing Room


The Sangersa al was modeled on the singing room at Wartburg Castle in Eisenach.

Dining Room


Like many other rooms in the palace, the dining room includes fabulous pictures, intricately carved panels and beautifully decor a ted furniture, all bearing witness to the skill and artistry of 19th century craftsmen.



The heart of the castle was supposed to have been a mighty 295-ft (90-m) high tower with a Gothic castle church. It was never built, but in 1988 its planned position was marked in white stone.

Castle Building


Neuschwanstein is the archetypal fairy-tale castle. It has provided the inspiration for countless toy models, book illustrations, and movie sets.

Knight’s Hall

This three-story structure connects the gatehouse with the main building; itwas intended to house state and service rooms.


Ludwig was fascinated by swans (hence his early identification with Lohengrin, the Knight of the Swan), not only as a symbol of purity, but also because he regarded himself as successor to the Lords of Schwangau, whose heraldic beast was the swan. Unsurprisingly, the swan motif dominates the castle’s interior decor.



Hohenschwangau Castle

In 1832, Ludwig’s father bought the remains of a 12th-century fortress In the Bavarian village of Schwangau. He rebuilt it in Neo-Gothic style as Hohenschwangau Castle. As a child, Ludwig was captivated by its frescoes, which depict various legends.


1868: Ludwig makes known his plans to build a newcastle.
1869: The foundation stone is laid. The king hopes the work will take just three years.
1873: The gatehouse is constructed; the king lives there for a number of years.
1880: A ceremony marks the completion of all five floors.
1884: Ludwig occupies the castle but dies soon after in mysterious circumstances.
1886: Seven weeks after Ludwig II’s death, the castle is opened to visitors.
1891: The castle is completed, but many of the rooms are left bare.

Würzburg Residence – Germany

A masterpiece of German Rococo, the Residence was commissioned by two prince-bishops, the brothers Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Karl von Schonborn, as an Episcopal palace. Its construction between 1720 and 1744 was supervised by several architects, including Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt and Maximilian von Welsch. However, the Residence is mainly associated with the name of Balthasar Neumann, the then young and unknown creator of its remarkable Baroque staircase.


Born in Venice, the Italian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) is considered the last great master of Venetian art. He created numerous altarpieces and frescoes for churches, castles, palaces, and villas in Italy and Germany. Almost all the interior decoration of the Würzburg Residence was created by Tiepollo, including magnificent ceiling frescoes in the Imperial Hall and above the staircase, or Treppenhaus, completed from 1751 to 1753.


The Residence is such a fine example of German Rococo that it had a style named after it: Würzburg Rococo. Typical of this style are the vast trompe-l’ oeil painted ceilings and large, domed rooms. The term Rococo is derived from the French word rocaille, meaning “rock-work,” a decorative trend for both interiors and facades featuring abstract, shell-like forms and curves. Trees, flowers, and Chinese scenes were among the most popular motifs. Stucco craftsmen and woodcarvers became as revered as architects and painters for the quality and splendor of their work.


Many of those involved in the building of the Würzburg Residence were members of the Schonborn family, a powerful 18th-century dynasty of princes and electors on the rivers Rhine, Maine, and Moselle. Among them was Johann Philipp von Schonborn, who became prince-bishop of Würzburg in 1719. He was succeeded by his brother, Friedrich Karl, one of the chief instigators of the Würzburg Residence project. The brothers engaged renowned architects and painters from all over Europe for what was to become a Gesamtkunstwerk — a unique synthesis of various branches of the arts into a total experience. The Residence was devastated by a fire during World War II and underwent a painstaking 27 milion-dollar reconstruction program between 1950 and 1987. Today, 40 rooms are open to the public, with a splendid array of 18th-century furniture, frescoes, tapestries, and other treasures.

Venetian Room


This room is naed after a tapestry depicting the Venetian Carnival. Further ornaments include decorative panels with paintings by Johann Thalhofer, a pupil of Rudolph Byss.



The work of the Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the largest fresco in the world adorns the vault of the staircase. It is an allegorical depiction of the four continents.

Garden Hall


This low, vaulted hall, supported by slender marble columns, has Rococo stuccowork by Antonio Bossi dating from 1749. There is also a painting on the ceiling by Johan Zick, dating from 1750, depicting The Feast of the Gods and Diana Resting.

Imperial Hall


The centerpiece of the palace, the sumptuous Kaisersaal features 20 half columns in red stuccowrk, each almost 29 ft (9m) high, and a large oval dome. The three ceiling frescoes by Tiepolo testify to the close relationship between Würzburg and the Holy Roman Empire.

White Hall

Antonio Bossi’s stuccowork rests on a pale gray background in this almost colorless room, which was designed to contrast with the brightly colored Treppenhaus and the glittering Imperial Hall.



The interior of the court chapel (1743) is richly decorated with paintings, sculptures, and stucco ornaments. The side altars were designed by the architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt and feature paintings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.

Arms of the Patron

The richly decorated facade by Johann Wolfgang der Auwery bears the personal arms of Friedrich von Schonborn, Prince-Bishop of Bamberg and Würzburg.

Frankonia Fountain


A fountain, designed by Gabriel von Seidel, was constructed in the parade square in front of the Residence om 1896. It was funded by donations from the inhabitants of Würzburg.

Prince’s Hall

This oblong room (1772) with stucco reliefs by Materno Bossi was used as a dinning room, games room, and a concert hall.


Tiepolo was not without a sense of humor: on the Treppenhaus fresco he included a portrait of the architect Balthasar Neumann dressed as an artillery officer and with his dog by his side.

1720-44: Building of the Würzburg Residence.
1732-92: The Residence garden is laid out and landscaped.
1751-53: Decoration of the Residence with ceiling frescoes by Tiepolo.
1765: Ludovico Bossi oversees the decorative stuccowork in the stairwell.
1945: The palace is damaged in a bombing raid during World War II.
1981: The Residence becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2003: The restoration of Tiepolo’s Treppenhaus frescoes begins.



Heidelberg Castle – Germany

Towering over the city, this majestic red sandstone structure is a vast residential complex that was built between the 12th and 17th centuries. Originally a supremely well-fortified Gothic castle, but now mostly in ruins, this was the seat of the House of Wittelsbach palatines. After remodeling in the 16th century, the castle became one of Germany’s most beautiful Renaissance residences. However, its splendor was extinguished during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) and the 1689 war with France, when most of the structure was destroyed.


Heidelberg is widely held to be Germany’s most romantic city and Heidelberg Castle was a favorite target of early 19th-century revisionism, with poets such as Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano, Ludwig Gorres, and Joseph von Eichendorff recasting it as the cradle of German Romanticism. The ruins came to symbolize the artistic, intellectual, and political return to Germany’s national roots that the poets so much wanted to see. It was during this period that Count Charles de Graimberg acted to prevent further looting of stone from the site in an attempt to preserve the ruins. Even today, the sprawling castle complex provides an extraordinarily majestic scene. Since being destroyed by the French in the 17th century, this once-important residence is regarded as Germany’s most palatial ruin.


One of the most important figures in the history of Heidelberg Castle was Elector Ruprecht III, a member of the Wittelsbach dynasty. Born in Amberg in 1352, Ruprecht became Elector of the Palatinate in 1398 and spearheaded a successful campaign to depose Wenceslas, the Holy Roman Emperor, in 1400. Ruprecht was elected emperor in his place, although his election was not universally recognized. He died in Oppenheim in 1410, having failed to restore the crown to its former glory.


Inside the Gothic-style Ruprecht’s Palace, there are two models of the castle showing the various additions through the ages. In 1524, Ludwig V added a residential building known as Ludwig’s Palace. The Glazed Palace (1549), which is named after its mirrored hall, symbolizes the architectural transition from Gothic to Renaissance style. Ottheinrich’s Palace is a splendid example of German early-Renaissance architecture, while Friedrich’s Palace has a typical late-Renaissance facade. This was followed by the English Palace. The jewel in the crown was undoubtedly the castle garden of Friedrich V (r. 1613-19), once described as the eighth wonder of the world.

Bell Tower

Erected in the early 15th century, this tower was remodeled frequently in subsequent years.

Friedrich’s Palace


Dating from 1601-07, this is one of the most recent parts of the castle. Inside are statues of members of the Wittelsbach dynasty, including Charles the Great.

Gunpowder Tower


Built during the reign of the Elector Ruprecht , this 14th -century tower once formed part of the castle defenses. It was damaged by lightning in 1764, after which the townspeople took its stone for building.

Fountain Hall

This Gothic loggia features early Romanesque columns taken from the palace of Charlemagne in Ingelheim.

Ottheinrich’s Palace

The German Pharmacy Museum is housed within the shell of this Renaissance building. It features Baroque and Rococo workshops and a traveling pharmacy.

Ruprecht’s Palace

Built in around 1400 by a master-builder from Frankfurt, this is the oldest surviving part of the castle.

Panoramic View


Heidelberg Castle has survived as a picturesque ruin, and its imposing structure occupies a commanding position. From its terrace there is a beautiful view of the medieval Old Town of Heidelberg.

Church of the Holy Ghost


Palatine electors’ tombs can be seen in this early 15th -century church in Heidelberg’s Old Town.

English Palace


These imposing ruins in the castle complex are the remains of a 17th -century building that Friedrich V built for his wife, Elizabeth Stuart.



To the left of Friedrich’s Palace, a staircase leads to the cellars where a giant wine cask is stored. This symbol of the electors’ love of good wine was built in 1750 and holds 48,620 gallons (221,000 liters). The wine was piped directly from the cask to the King’s Hall.


Mid-1100s: Construction of a castle begins under Count Palatine Conrad.
1400: Ruprecht III’s palace is built – the first use of the castle as a royal residence.
1556-9: Ottheinrich builds his Renaissance-style palace.
1614-19: A garden is commissioned by Prince-Elector Friedrich V for his wife.
1689-93: The castle is destroyed in the War of the Palatine Succession.
1742-64: Reconstruction takes place but fire destroys several buildings.
1810: Attempts are made to preserve castle ruins.


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