"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad


Inside the Castle

"Deserted, discrowned, beaten by the storms, but royal still, and beautiful," wrote Mark Twain of the Heidelberg castle.

Since our arrival in Heidelberg over two weeks ago we have gazed up at the castle on many different occasions and from many different angles. Our first reaction was similar to that of Mark Twain. From afar it appears to be a structure that was once glorious but now sits in ruins. It has the reputation of being one of the most significanat tourist draws in Germany, its state of decay, in some sense, contributing to its celebration as a 'Romantic' monument.

Last weekend we set out to get a closer look at this romantic castle of ruins, but this time from the inside. We discovered that the castle was much more expansive than it appears from a distance, and although much of it is in ruins, there is much left intact.

But first you must make the steep journey to get to the castle. The first and easiest option is to take the funicular--sort of like a cable car that runs up a track straight up the steep hill. This takes you right to the front entrance of the castle. We were short on time and didn't want to wait for the next car, so we ruled this out. The second option is the steepest and longest set of stone steps you've ever seen. No amount of money could have convinced us to do this as we had Penelope in the stroller. The third option is the Burgweg, a steep cobblestone path that leads to the back entrance of castle. We chose this route. It took both the father's and my strength to push the stroller to the top. Here I am after just having reached the base of the castle, still huffing and puffing from the journey.

After paying the entrance fee we made our way to this balcony and took in the magnificent views of the city and the surrounding countryside below.

We had rented these neat hand-held computers that provide an audio-visual tour of the city. The castle was our last stop on the tour. Since we had taken the Burgweg route and not entered the castle through the main gate, it took us a while to figure out where we were on the map. Notice the intensity on my face as I try to get my bearings.

Below is the Friedrichsbau, or Friedrich's Building. It stands out amongst the rest of the castle because it is completely intact. You can even go inside and tour the restored rooms.

My favorite building is the Ottheinrichsbau. All that remains is this ornate wall that faces the inner courtyard of the castle.

But most of the rest of the castle is just ruins--but magnificent ruins nonetheless.

Another attraction within the castle is the Grosses Fass--the biggest wine cask you could ever imagine. It was built in 1751 and holds 221,725 liters of wine. Apparently they needed all this wine because the average castle resident drank 16 liters of wine a day. That's an awful lot of wine, my friend.

You can even walk up two sets of stairs and stand on top of the cask.

So now that we've taken our own tour of the castle, we can't wait for you to come visit so that we can show you around!

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