Heidelberg III – Visiting the past

After a rather exhausting day taking advantage of my legs it was rather challenging getting out of bed. Well – I somehow managed to get up, pack my bag, check out of the lovely hotel and use the storage room to leave my bag there for the day. And I was out to walk to the Old Town again at 10:30. For me this is a big success on a Sunday morning….

As I once again not had breakfast at the hotel I decided to have it in the Old Town. A little Italian restaurant with a nice court-yard was not opened yet, so I somehow managed to end up choosing Cenmoro next to the City Hall. It was actually nice sitting outside on the Market Square (though thanks to a parasol in the shade) with a great view of the Heiliggeistkirche and the rest of the square. I got the Parisian breakfast with baguette, croissant, scrambled eggs, cheese, jam and honey. While the scrambled egg was served before the rest of the breakfast it was overall very tasty. And with a Latte Macchiato it was only €10,40. For te size of the breakfast and the quality and location, it was a great deal. I really enjoyed sitting here, and it took some time to get off my bum just before noon. A perfect start to the day.

Once again filled I headed to Kornmarket as the bottom station of  the mountain funicular (Bergbahn) is nearby. This very popular attractions of Heidelberg is a nice view going up to the castle and further up to Molkenkur. Here starts one of the oldest mountain trains starts to get up to the highest point of Heidelberg, Königstuhl.

After beating the first queue for the tickets I decided only getting a return ticket for the first train – I wasn’t sure how long the queue was at the upper station. It is more expensive buying separate tickets for both trains – but I took a chance. And for a chance I was actually right. The ticket was only €7, and included the entrance to the inner section of the castle – which is a great deal.

Thankfully the queue for the train was quicker than expected, and soon I was in the middle compartment of the train. The ride to the Castle Station is very fast, but it is still an interesting experience with some nice views. Most people got out here, and I was only one of a few who stayed on to get to the next station Molkenkur. And this is the more interesting part of the train, as you get a great view over the valley. I love trains, and this one was no different (though it is overall quite short).

Getting out of the train I walked to the end of the station to enjoy the view from here while taking a few photos. A woman thought it was a good idea and joined me here. Well – apparently the train was unable to go down again while people are standing on the platform, so the two of us held up the train. Thankfully no one inside the train was aware of it, so after being advised by the staff we moved away discreetly….

And here I realised I was right about not buying the ticket for the second train, as the waiting time would have been 40 minutes. And as I was supposed to meet a friend (who I have not told I was visiting Heidelberg as I forgot he lived there) before my train leaves, I had limited time. So I waited a little bit at the station as I wanted to the see the old train to arrive. And it was worth the wait, as I found it a beautiful old version. It must be nice to get a ride in that, but this has to wait for next time….

Next on my list was to get to the castle. Instead of taking the train back to the next station I just followed the road downhill, and after a few shortcuts and some nice views I managed to arrive at the entrance of the castle. So first impression – it looked stunning. Interestingly, visiting the outside area of the castle was free, you only have to pay to go to the inner court of the castle (which was already included in the ticket for the train). Unfortunately here poor planning was on my side. I bought a little guide-book, but then saw that have an audio guide for €5 (your ID card or driver licence need to handed in as deposit), so I had both written and spoken guide. Later on I found out that there are proper guided tours leave the shop – and with these tours you can enter soe areas of the castle you otherwise cannot. Once again I found that one out too late.

Well, equipped with the audio guide it was time to explore the castle – starting with the West Wall. There are some very interesting items to see (I know that thanks to the well-structured signs and clear audio descriptions), but the main attractions here is the grand view of the Heidelberg. It is just spectacular, and not surprisingly everybody was taking photos. As usual I ended up taking photos of others, and at the same time taking the opportunity getting me into a photo as well. Somehow at places like this it always happens. Struggling to take my eyes off I managed to walk a little bit around to enjoy the structure of the castle, even though plenty of areas were destroyed over the last 400 years. But it all added to the charm of the castle. But it also meant, it took a bit longer to leave the West Wall section.

Next was heading to the inside of the castle. And I didn’t get disappointed here either. It was so beautiful (well, like so many other things in the world like food, beer, trains, mountains, rice fields) I love castles, and this one was no different. The yard was surrounded by beautiful buildings, even though the main one (Friedrich Building) seems to be the last one fully intact. And there are still a lots of details to the various walls. From little engravings above the door left as a memory of the architect’s kids, statues from Greek mythology to statues of lords – there is a lot to explore. Thankfully this time I didn’t miss too many of the meanings of these beautiful details. While it seems you could walk around the main yard very quickly – don’t. Enjoy the beauty of it.

While it was not possible to visit the interior of the main building (which I feel is a shame that it is not open to everyone) I took advantage to explore the cellar. In here you can find the Great Barrel – which is (surprise surprise) a great barrel that was established to hold the wine from the Palatinate area and deliver the wine into the King’s Hall. I entered the hall and saw a large barrel to my right. I took a few pictures and thought, yes, this is not a small barrel. Well, I headed further and then I realised how stupid I was. The barrel I saw was just the baby one. The real Great barrel was in another room – and it was really large. So large you had to climb stairs to reach the top of the barrel, walk over the barrel and climb down the stairs on the other side.In fact, that barrel was able to hold around 220.000l of wine. That is the equivalent of around 400.000 pints, or over 300.000 bottles of wine you can buy at a supermarket. In other words…more than you most people will ever drink in their entire life. It was impressive. From the top of the barrel there are some gothic windows with some nice views of the valley. And if you are standing on the bottom of the barrel you might see a few people pull a cord – just do it and see what happens…

While you are next to such a great barrel, it would be silly not to have a glass of a local wine. And thankfully, there is a wine bar. As I am not a red wine fan I didn’t take the aster option of three glasses, but after some advise choose the wine that is produced on the other side of the castle. And it was a lovely white wine. Standing there, enjoying a glass of an excellent wine, looking at the barrels, I decided that I cannot leave the castle without some fun photos. Well – the watching crowd thought it was entertaining!!!

Having cover the local wine I headed to the Great Terrace at the back of the castle. And this should not be missed. Firstly because the view here over the valley is stunning (I never got tired of the view over Heidelberg – the city is too beautiful for that…). Then there is the view of the back of the main building. and thirdly, there is an impression of a knight’s foot on the floor. Have a look around and see if you find it. THough, I am not sure I believe the legend how it happened….

And that left me with the last highlight of the inner yard of the castle – the Ottheinrich Building, the home of the new Apothecary museum. The building alone is just beautiful, the statues representing Greek mythology adding something to it, while seeing the blue sky through the windows was great. It is just a beauty. I headed inside to see the museum, where the development of apothecary throughout the century is highlighted. It was interesting to see some of the items, but the main reason for me was to have a chance to see a bit of the inside of the castle’s building. And I liked it, and it was at least a consolation price after not able to head into the main building.

Taking the horse stairs I made my way towards the gate back to the area in front of the castle, heading to the eastern section, where the Castle Garden is. And I must admit, this area is lovely. There is a huge section of grass where people where sitting down enjoying the sun, reading or eating while kids run around. It was just peaceful here. But instead taking advantage of the area I continued walking towards one area I was really looking forward to – Scheffel terrace. This is a long terrace opposite the castle, with a great view over the town and the castle. This is the section you can see next to the castle when looking up from the Old Town. It was lovely to sit down here at one of the benches near the wall. It felt like a great place to have a little rest, enjoying the beauty of the area.

From here I started my return to the Castle Garden, with a side stop at a bench next to a Ginkgo Tree, where apparently the famous german write Goethe was spending time in his life. For some history buffs this is a place to visit, and I was clearly not the only one looking for the bench with the tablet with an inscription about Goethe. Thankfully, I found it and now I have a photo of the place where Goethe was sitting and standing a few centuries ago.

After the little historical site I came to the last part of the castle ground I have not seen – the Great Grotto. It is a grotto that was in the past nicely decorated to have a romantic section with waterplay. Today, not a lot of this former beauty is left, and a gate prevents anyone to enter. However, the fountain in front of it with the statue of the Father Rhine is still a beautiful piece that should not missed.

And finally, after over  3 hours later I managed to see most areas of the whole castle ground. So once again I managed to spend a lot of time to explore one specific area. I clearly dislike rushing, and I loved taking my time. Being able to sit down on the grass of the Castle’s garden, looking towards the castle, enjoying being out in the sun and relax was the perfect way to finish my visit of the Heidelberg Castle.

Once I returned the audio guide I headed to the train station to take a last, enjoyable ride with the Bergbahn I was back in the Old Town. As I was not able to meet my friend in the end, I took my time walking back to the hotel, and I took another chance to visit the Jesuitenkirche – this time not being rushed. And it was good, as it is a beautiful church with some lovely art work and some nice organs. I think visiting the church for a concert must be a great experience.

I also managed to visit the Providenzkirche on Hauptstr.. While the church is not as beautiful as the others I have seen, they have some stunning glass stained windows that are worthwhile to visit. Well – that is one thing I love about visiting churches – they are all different and all offer something different.

 

And it was the last thing I have seen in Heidelberg. It was time to pick up my bag, getting to the train station and taking my train back to Cologne. Though it seems someone was trying to make my return journey enjoyable. As the Deutsche Bahn had to send a replacement train, I was able to sit in a first class compartment on my very own comfortable single seat. The pure luxury made the home journey much easier – as even after a short weekend trip I still hates the journey back home.

Overall I loved my stay in Heidelberg. I might have not seen many museums or not explored a lot of the Old Town, I still had a great time enjoying the Old Town, the castle and the nature this area has to offer. Heidelberg has been on my bucket list for a very long time – and it didn’t disappoint. It is just a great place to visit. I just had a fantastic weekend.

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