Continuing our exploration of sites we visited on our family Rhine River trip last summer, we will explore Heidelberg Castle today. All photos are taken by either Peggy or me unless otherwise noted.
Perched on the hill overlooking Heidelberg, the castle waited for us.
Visiting Heidelberg Castle can make you feel like one in a million. That’s the number of people who tour the castle each year. We dutifully waited our turn on the funicular railway that would take us the 260 feet (80 meters) up to the castle and the beginning of our tour.
Our daughter-in-law Cammie and grandson Ethan (Tasha’s son) on the funicular train to Heidelberg Castle. Masks were still required at the time for covid.
Heidelberg Castle was built in the 13th and 14th centuries. There were originally two castles, an upper and lower, but lightning and fire destroyed the upper one in 1537. The lower castle has since seen its share of wars requiring frequent renovations. It, too, finally succumbed to a lightning strike and fire in 1764— making it fair game for people to use its stones in building their homes, a custom of repurposing that has existed since time immemorial. A serious effort began in 1800 to preserve what was left. Sections have also been renovated. Regardless of its past history, the present structure is very impressive.
There are statues galore, mainly of past royalty. There’s no doubt about this fellow’s pedigree. He holds a scepter in his left hand representing his kingly power and a ‘globus cruciger ‘ minus its cross in his left hand representing his religious power. A grouchy lion, also a symbol of medieval power, has curled around his legs like a kitty. And then there is the humongous sword and the ‘don’t mess with me’ look in his eyes. Take a look at the various figures on his clothes/armor. I spotted Mercury on his upper left thigh.
Speaking of lions, there may be more scattered around the castle than those living in East and South Africa. The ‘globus cruciger’ (orb bearing cross) still has its cross here.
I only saw one imperial eagle but it certainly looked ferocious, which, I might add, was reduced somewhat by the bird poop on its head. I noticed that all of the lions in the photo above and the eagle are sticking their tongues out. I wonder if it meant what it does today.
Like all good castles, it has a tower with a flag on top. You can see the tower on the left in the blog’s introductory photo.
Vacant windows adorned by statues speak to the Castle’s past glory. Again, it is interesting to look closely at the figures. Can you find Mercury?
Another photo where the damage done to the castle is obvious. The face of a clock can be seen on the tower to the right.
As I recall, it actually was a quarter of five. Note the lightning rod up on top! A lesson learned. As for the hands, I am thinking sun, moon, and star.
While we’re on clocks, check out this beauty. It’s a sun dial. Its strange shape is due to the fact that is vertical. Most are on the ground. As for reading it…
This impressive building known as the Friedrichsbau, is named after Elector Friedrich IV who had it built in the early 1600s. Lady Justice is perched in a niche top center. Other niches contain generations of Palatine Prince Electors.
Here’s Justice holding her scales to determine who is guilty and who is innocent with her sword ready to whack the guilty– or is that smite? One of the princes can be seen on the left. A dragon spout is beneath her.
Here’s a closeup of the dragon spout, On a church it would be considered a gargoyle. At Burning Man it would be shooting out fire. (Peggy and I are hoping to return this year.) The scales of justice can be seen in the upper left and another elector is on the right. The scales have holes in them. How just is that?
We passed through this gateway on our way to visit the huge wine barrel I featured in an earlier post.
Lions hold a cross bearing orb while fair maidens hold bouquets of flowers in their hands and in cornucopias. The one on the left seems, um, a bit provocative?
This window is here because I liked how colorfully it reflected its surroundings in an abstract sort of way.
Hmmm. Maybe our grandsons had seen enough of castles for one day. Grin. So, I’ll conclude here. Cody, Tasha and Clay’s son, is on top. Chris, Tony and Cammie’s son, is on the bottom. In our next post we will journey back to Yellowstone National Park for a look at some of its scenic beauty.
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18 thoughts on “Heidelberg Castle: Perched above the City”
Wow, the castle is beautiful, as are your photos. You really captured all the details. That sundial is so bizarre. Props to whoever figured how to build it in a vertical orientation. I definitely don’t understand how that works (or how to read it).
Love all the details you capture Curt. One – “I spotted Mercury on his upper left thigh.” – I would never have seen. Actually, when I passed through in 2002 with a bunch of high school students, I didn’t focus on much detail at all. ☹
Curt, these are marvelous photos and all the better with your whimsical prose. I am in love with those high walls of stone windows that you can view the sky through. Outstanding. I also loved the dragon waterspout, of course. The sundial on the side of a building is fascinating and I agree with Diana about whomever figured out how to make it.
Such a magnificent castle. Thanks for the amazing photos.
Love all the details you capture Curt.I am in love with those high walls of stone windows that you can view the sky through. Outstanding. I also loved the dragon waterspout, of course.
It is a good castle and a great city. I remember having bother parking the car.
Incredible architecture and fabulous photos, Curt. Looking forward to Yellowstone also. Thanks for sharing!
OK — despite not being down with castles generally, I really liked this one. In fact, I’d even visit this one. I especially like the pair of photos showing those marvelous vacant windows, and I also liked your more abstract, reflective window photo. Of course your text always delights; it’s as fun to read as the photos are pleasant to look at.
I have a feeling you’ve not found many castles in Cairo. Palaces, maybe. I can’t wait for that travelogue!
First up, glad we found a castle you like, Linda. We’ve had fun with our Rhine River blogs, both the writing and photography.
Which brings me to the Nile, naturally. Triple wow! I’ll do an introductory post later this week…
This might be the place to retire. I’ll be back to read more.. 💗
Our grandson, Ethan, thought that Heidelberg would be a great place to go to college for a year, Cindy!
Oh wow and wouldn’t that be cool! 💞
Yes indeed! 🙂
That Castle must have been amazing in its day, Curt. (It’s still amazing). The sheer amount of statuary is impressive. Goodness. So interesting too that lightning is what brought it down. I’m glad it’s being preserved for all to marvel at. 😀 Great photos, and you got me chuckling a few times there too.
We like chuckling, D. 🙂 The castle is a site/sight to see. Everyone, who was anyone, seemed to have a statue. Speaking of statuary, I now have a new standard: Egypt. Peggy and I just got back from our Nile River cruise. Incredible! I’ll do an introductory post later this week. Plus get back to reading blogs… Thanks. –Curt
I remember you saying that’s where you were headed. Can’t wait to hear about it and see your photos. What an experience that must have been.
Close to the top, D.