Heidelberg Castle is among the top tourist attractions that Heidelberg Germany has to offer. Although it lies in a mostly ruined state, this red sandstone castle maintains plenty of scenic appeal and is often mentioned as one of the top Gothic-Renaissance structures in the country, as well as one of the best castles in Germany. You can't miss it when visiting Heidelberg, as it dominates the old downtown area from its hillside perch. As for getting to the site, the fact that it sits 260 feet up on a hill means that you might prefer driving along the Schlossstrasse or taking the funicular that is part of the Heidelberger Bergbahn Funicular Railway.
Heidelberger Schloss, as this castle in Heidelberg is locally known, has a long history. The first castle to be built on the site was in place by the early 1200s, and the end of this same century saw significant expansions. Due to conflicts and the changing of ownership, Heidelberg Castle was altered on more than one occasion. More than one lightning bolt caused damage to the castle, with the 1764 strike being particularly renowned. It all but completely destroyed a 500-year-old castle in a matter of hours as a result of the ensuing fire. In the following decades, Heidelberg Castle history includes moments where basic repairs were made, but overall, the structure fell into ruin. This did not signal an end to its story, however.
Many artists and writers found the ruins of Heidelberger Schloss to be very romantic, especially since they are perched on a hill among scores of trees. An artist from England by the name of J.M.W. Turner helped to make the ruined castle famous by depicting it in a collection of excellent paintings, and among the writers who commented on its romantic appeal was Mark Twain. Around the year 1900, a reconstruction project restored one of the castle buildings, though it continues to linger in a mostly ruined state, not unlike it has for more than 200 years.
Heidelberg Castle tours are something that any and all travelers will want to consider adding to the agenda when planning vacations in Germany. Checking out the restored rooms in the seventeenth-century palace of Friedrich IV building is a joy, and the stark contrast that ruined portions like the Hall of Mirrors building provide is mesmerizing. You can imagine the former glory of the place when making the rounds, and you can also imagine how much the past residents liked their wine. Among the ruins is a large wine vat that was able to hold some 55,000 gallons of wine. Another highlight at the Heidelberg Castle is the Pharmaceutical Museum, which displays various utensils and other health related relics from the past, and the view of Heidelberg and the valley below from the Gun Park area is worth the visit alone.
Should you wish to visit Heidelberg Castle, you can walk to the site if you don't want to drive or take the funicular. Of course, hailing a taxi is also possible. The walk up should take about 20 to 40 minutes, depending on whether you take the Klingentor route or the longer Burgweg route. Heidelberger Schloss is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. between the months of March and November. December through February, it is still open daily, though the hours change to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Heildelberg castle tours of the guided variety are often possible to book for an added fee, with summer being the period when an increased amount are offered. Some of these tours are in English. As a side note, Germany has other interesting castles that you might also look to add to your agenda. Among them are Nymphenburg Castle and Marksburg Castle.