Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.
| | |

Visiting Heidelberg Castle in Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg Castle is a stunning ruin looming over the small town of Heidelberg, Germany. Learn more about visiting the castle here.

Heidelberg Castle is a must-see destination near Frankfurt, Germany with over 800 years of history.

Located in the Neckar Valley of the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region, this centuries-old castle stands proudly atop a hill overlooking the city. The castle features some of the best Renaissance architecture in the country.

Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg, Germany

Stroll the charming cobblestone streets and marvel at the grandeur of the castle ruins. This makes for the perfect day trip from Frankfurt, which is what my family and I did on our visit.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about visiting Heidelberg Castle, the architecture, and interesting things to see like the apothecary museum and giant wine barrel.

Heidelberg Castle History

Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg, Germany

The first mention of Heidelberg Castle dates back to 1214. In 1303, there was mention of two castles at Heidelberg: the upper castle on Kleiner Gaisberg Mountain near where Hotel Molkenkur is located today, and the lower castle on the Jettenbühl outcrop where the present ruins sit.

The castle served as the residence of the Counts Palatine of the Rhine, later prince electors. The prince electors commissioned different wings in the Renaissance style, creating a resplendent façade that sets the castle apart from others.

Destruction of the castle began in during the Thirty Years War and the Nin Years’ War. Even nature took its toll on the already ruined castle. In 1764, two lightning strikes devastated the castle, catching it on fire. Afterward, it was decided the castle would be preserved as a ruin.

The picturesque ruins caught the attention of the artists of the Romantic movement. J. M. W. Turner and Karl Philipp Fohr painted the castle many times. Authors Victor Hugo and Mark Twain also visited and wrote about the castle.

Touring Heidelberg Castle

Standard admission to the castle grounds includes the Funicular Railway ride up to the castle, access to the castle courtyard, admission to the German Apothecary Museum, and access to the Great Tun.

To see inside the castle’s historic buildings, you’ll need to take a guided tour.

The castle gardens, meanwhile, are always free to visit.

Castle Courtyard Architecture

Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg, Germany

From the castle courtyard, you can admire the Renaissance architecture in beautiful red sandstone from the outside. Two of the most impressive buildings include the Otteinrich Wing and the Friedrich Wing.

The Ottheinrich Wing is one of the oldest castle structures, and it features a lavishly decorated façade of decorative figures representing Elector Palatine Ottheinrich and his military as Roman heroes and emperors.

The Friedrich Wing looms over the courtyard with larger-than-life figures on its façade. This was where Prince Elector Friedrich IV lived with his family. The Great Terrace of this building offers a great view of Heidelberg from above.

German Apothecary Museum

German Apothecary Museum, Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg, Germany

The German Apothecary Museum, located in the basement of the Ottheinrich Wing, explores the history of pharmacies from antiquity to the 21st century. Here, you’ll get to learn about the different methods of healing throughout the years and see fully preserved interiors of historic apothecaries from the 17th-19th centuries.

The Great Tun (Großes Fass)

Great Tun, Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg, Germany

The Großes Fass, also called the Great Tun, the Heidelberg Tun, or the Great Barrel, is a giant wine barrel installed in the Barrel Building’s basement in 1591.

This isn’t the original barrel, as the original was destroyed during the Thirty Years War. This is the third barrel installed here, put in place by Prince-Elector Carl Theodor in 1751. The barrel was able to store 220,000 liters of wine.

It rarely has ever held wine, though, and does not hold wine now. But you can climb the stairs up to the top where there is a viewing platform that was once used as a dance floor.

In this building, you’ll also find a small winery and café where you can get a bite to eat and sample some wines.

Guided Tours

Guided Tour of Friedrich Wing, Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg, Germany
Photo credit: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Niels Schubert

The standard guided tour of the castle’s interior rooms takes you through the Friedrich Wing. This wing was completed in the Historicism style and renovated to its former grandiose style. The grandly decorated rooms and the ornate Romantic castle chapel offer a look at what life was like living in the castle during the rule of Friedrich IV.

Additional special tours take you inside the ground floor of the Otteinrich Wing to see the original façade sculptures up close, and through the ruins of the English Building.

Castle Gardens

Castle Gardens, Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg, Germany
Photo Credit: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg. Achim Mende

Prince Elector Friedrich V installed the first castle gardens, the Hortus Palatinus, between 1616 and 1619. It was artistically designed with grottoes, ornate flower beds, and intimate garden alcoves, but the garden ultimately remained unfinished. In the 19th century, the gardens were planted with rare trees.

Today, you can stroll through the romantically decaying garden and find remnants of the past and views across the castle from the various terraces.

How to Get to Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg Castle is a great day trip from nearby towns like Frankfurt. Take the train for an easy ride into Heidelberg, then follow the directions below to reach the castle. Alternatively, you can take a guided day trip from Frankfurt to Heidelberg Castle.

From the train station, walk to Old Town, following signs for the “Bergbahn”. This is the Funicular Railway that will take you up to the “Schloss” station. A ride on the railway is included on your ticket.

You can also walk up to the castle using the “Burgweg” path next to Rathaus and Kornmarkt. There is a short route with steps and a scenic route without steps. Simply follow the signs up to the castle.

Visiting Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg, Germany

The castle is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with last admission at 5:30 p.m. The palace garden is open daily during daylight hours. The apothecary museum is open in summer (April 1 to October 31) daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with last admission at 5:40 p.m., and in the winter (November 1 to March 31) daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with last admission at 5:10 p.m.

The castle gardens are free to visit.

Admission to the castle grounds (including the courtyard, garden, Great Tun, German Apothecary Museum, and Funicular Railway) costs €9 for adults, €4.50 reduced.

Viewing the castle interiors is only possible with a guided tour. Guided tours cost €6 for adults, €3 for reduced. In the summer, English guided tours are offered daily at 11:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m., and 3:15 p.m. In the winter, English guided tours are offered weekdays at 2:15 p.m. and weekends and holidays at 12:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.

Top Heidelberg Castle Tours

To take some of the stress out of planning your visit, opt for a guided tour. Check out this list of the top tours that include Heidelberg Castle.

Castle Count: 39

Want to visit more castles in Germany? The popular Neuschwanstein Castle is always a great choice, or visit the closer Hohenecken Castle.

Ready to visit Heidelberg Castle in Heidelberg, Germany? Plan your trip with these tips.



Visiting Heidelberg Castle in Heidelberg, Germany

Have you visited Heidelberg Castle? Let me know in the comments!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *