HEIDELBERG, GERMANY ~ A Castle, the World’s Largest Wine Barrel and a Student Jail

July 31st (part 2)~ Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg, Germany - Main square (Corn Market) with the castle up on the hill

Heidelberg, Germany – Main square (Corn Market) with the castle up on the hill

Our afternoon was taken up with an optional tour that began with a motor coach ride to Heidelberg. Some consider this the most romantic city in Germany and for good reason. Towering over the town are the extraordinary castle ruins. 

Situated on the Neckar River, with its impressive Old Bridge, the nations oldest university, and a charming baroque Old Town it is sure to have something to please any traveler. But just in case you need more, there is a fascinating Student Jail, the longest pedestrian street in Germany and of course a plentiful supply of divine churches.

On the coach from Mannheim

On the coach from Mannheim

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

“The earliest castle structure was built before 1214 and later expanded into two castles circa 1294; however, in 1537, a lightning-bolt destroyed the upper castle. The present structures had been expanded by 1650, before damage by later wars and fires. In 1764, another lightning-bolt caused a fire which destroyed some rebuilt sections.” ~ Wikipedia

A bit fairy tale land, combined with towering Renaissance structures, this is a sight to behold. Some of the castle (palace) is still being used for special functions, but it is primarily a tourist magnet these days.

Our bus carried us up the hill to within a short walk of the castle entrance, but there is also a funicular (Heidelberger Bergbahnen) that you can take to get to the castle.

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The world’s largest wine barrel, Heidelberg Tun, can be found in the castle. Built in 1751, it holds 220,000 liters (58,124 gallons) of wine. There are stairs that you can take to climb on top where I understand you will find a small dance floor. I stayed on the main level, so I’ll just have to take their word for it.

Heidelberg wine barrel

Heidelberg wine barrel

From on top of the castle, there are sweeping views of the surrounding area, including the Old Bridge far below as it crosses the Neckar River.

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You can see the Old Bridge in this picture

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From the castle walls, with a view of Church of the Holy Spirit below

People are alike the world over, capturing themselves in “Selfies”.

And of course a "selfie" is in order, lol

And of course a “selfie” is in order, lol

Church of the Holy Spirit

Church of the Holy Spirit, Interior

Church of the Holy Spirit, Interior

The most famous church in Heidelberg, dates back to the neighborhood of 1239, when it was first mentioned in manuscripts. As most ancient churches, it has been built, destroyed through conflicts and/or fire and rebuilt several times.

But what I found most interesting about it is that in its history, the church has been used by both Catholics and Protestants, even simultaneously! Back in 1706, a partition was built which separated the congregations, allowing them to both hold their services without disturbing the other.

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Having some free time to further explore before meeting back up with our group, we enjoyed walking the longest pedestrian street, admiring the architecture and checking out one more church.

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Hotel Ritter

Cascades of flowers decorate windowsills

Cascades of flowers decorate windowsills

More Old Town buildings

More Old Town buildings

Church

Catholic Jesuit Church

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But what for me was a highlight of the day was found at the University.

The Student Jail (Studentenkarzer)

Tim at the Student Jail

Tim at the Student Jail

Dating back to the 1600’s, many of the schools, both college and academic schools had karzers, (jails) where students could be detained for usually minor offenses such as drinking, being disrespectful to authorities or staging a duel.

Student Jail, old desks and metal beds

Student Jail, old desks and metal beds

Little more than rooms with a bed and desk, students were lodged for a few days to a few weeks, but were allowed to attend classes. What was originally deemed as a punishment, over the years became a rite of passage for many students. Visitors were allowed and eventually the “jails” evolved into a party house. Marking the walls with graffiti became a ritual.

Stairway entrance to the Student Jail

Stairway entrance to the Student Jail

Although no longer in use, the Heidelberg karzer has been turned into a museum of sorts, complete with its original iron frame beds and engraved wooden tables. The walls are covered with the markings of proud delinquents, works of art, and mindless scribbles.

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The Student Jail is actually part of the University Museum, and is attached, so we took a few minutes to explore there as well. The only part that stood out for me was the Great Hall chambers, still in use today.

“The Neo-Renaissance interior originates from the university’s 500th anniversary in 1886 and includes depictions of major persons and events from the history of Heidelberg University.” ~ Heidelberg University

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Great Hall

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Our tour of Heidelberg wrapped up when we met our group down near the Old Bridge.

Old Bridge Gate

Old Bridge Gate

The "Bridge Mandrill" next to the gate

The “Bridge Mandrill” next to the gate and Old Bridge

One of several cute and clever metal sculptures around the city

One of several cute and clever metal sculptures around the city

GRATITUDE MOMENT: What a full day we had, starting with our walking tour through Speyer (previous post), lunch on board the ship and then an even fuller afternoon tour through Heidelberg. As much as I enjoy exploring independently, the huge plus side of being on a guided tour is the tremendous amount of things that we can squeeze into one day.

Yes, there are times that I would love to dally a bit longer, take my time, explore deeper at many of the sites. For example, I would have so enjoyed seeing the interior at Heidelberg Castle. But that being said, I do love that I don’t have to plan how to get from point A to point B, all transportation is arranged, knowledgable guides fill in the corners with facts and figures, and we get to experience far more in a day than we could have possibly done on our own.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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15 Responses to HEIDELBERG, GERMANY ~ A Castle, the World’s Largest Wine Barrel and a Student Jail

  1. mycountryepoque says:

    very interesting story. You have a very pretty and wonderful blog. Keep it up. Will follow you! Welcome to “My Country Epoque!” and thank you for stopping by!

    Like

  2. That’s a nice and beautiful place to visit.

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  3. Sometimes tours are just the right thing. I love the mandril, and the gorgeous Great Hall – you got a couple of beautiful shots of that. I’ve never heard of the student jails – fascinating, and I love the beautiful white church interior, and the other church interior. You get lovely interior shots!
    Alison

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    • Thank you Alison. I had never heard of the student jails before either but loved our time there. The graffiti became art and instead of having the serious or hopeless energy than an ordinary jail would have, this was fun, full of light and you could almost imagine a frat party going on when the authorities weren’t looking.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. papaparisien says:

    I agree 100% on the guided tour business. I used to snub my nose at them, but now I really appreciate them for things like city tours or hitting some monuments. Usually I feel like I learn a lot more than I might otherwise and, particularly if its my first time in a city, I feel like it’s an educational, hassle-free way to get my bearings down a bit. Kudos. Thanks for the write up and keep up the awesome travels!

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  5. It’s always great to explore Heidelberg – sometimes on my own and sometimes through other’s eyes..You can read my observations here if you like – http://reflectionsontheriver.wordpress.com/tag/heidelberg

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    • Thank you for sharing the link to your day in Heidelberg. It sounds like you had a wonderful day with your friends topped off with the fireworks. However, if ever our paths cross, please remind me not to sit next to you if any drinks are involved unless I want to be “cooled off” 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Janie Kemp says:

    Thank you for this lovely post. I attended Pepperdine University’s study abroad program in Heidelberg in 1973 (April-Dec). Your pics and tour description are amazing and bring back so many wonderful memories!
    I found your post while looking for information about the Old Bridge. I saw that it had some damage in flooding earlier this year. Did you see anything about that, or hear of any plans for work on it?
    I’m a follower of yours now and look forward to reading your posts, past and future.
    Janie, IsabellasWhimsy.wordpress.com

    Like

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