The World’s Best-Known Palace Ruins
The red sandstone palace, the jewel of the Electoral Palatinate and the very incarnation of the picturesque romantic castle, towers majestically above the valley of the Neckar river. The «Electoral» part of the small independent principality’s name, the Electoral Palatinate, indicates that this small kingdom was one of the few, from eight to fourteen, among the hundred or so small independent German kingdoms in the Holy Roman Empire, whose ruler had the right to cast a vote and help choose or «elect» the Holy Roman Emperor. The former seat of the Palatine Electors who belonged to the Wittelsbach family, is a historically impressive and architecturally delightful structure. The ivy-covered walls of its diverse wings conceal centuries of Wittelsbach history which are well worth decoding. The complex, a reflection of its owner’s aspirations, evolved from a castle fortress around 1300 to one of the grandest residences of the High Renaissance, designed to represent the power and glory of its masters. Ruprecht’s wing, the Glass Hall, Ottheinrich’s wing, the English wing and other buildings served each successive Elector’s requirements of personal comfort and courtly ostentation. Destroyed in the 17th and 18th century wars, the sturdy ruins testify to the one-time magnificence of the seat of princes. In the 19th century, the palace was an atmospheric backdrop for romantic contemplation.
The rooms of Friedrich’s wing has been restored in the Renaissance Revival style. They now contain a palace museum with a display of courtly living from the 17th and 19th centuries. Walking in the grounds, visitors will stumble across the remains of a fine garden high up on the terraces. This was once an extraordinary work of art known as the «eighth wonder of the world». It is the Hortus Palatinus, the «Palatine Garden», laid out at the dawn of the 17th century during the reign of the young Elector Friedrich V, the «Winter King». In the foreground is an arboretum of magnificent lone standing trees, while one of the upper terraces has been recreated in outline, conveying it leased an impression of Heidelberg’s golden age, the Renaissance, while providing that world-famous view.
The Friedrich’s Wing
Friedrichs wing, built in the Renaissance style in 1601 — 1610 under the Palatine Elector Friedrich IV, is the stately as section of the castle in Heidelberg. After the devastating fires in 1693 and 1764 it was the only wing to be rebuilt, and it was refurbished in the 19th century during the age of Historicism. Around 1900 triggered a controversial debate among conservationists about how historical interiors should be re-created. The indoor architecture was to make stylistic reference to the Renaissance façade. In 1895 the government of Baden therefore commissioned the architect Karl Schaefer to reappoint the building in the neo-Renaissance manner. The richly ornamented stucco ceiling of the fourth second-floor room, the lavish stucco lustro floor and the heavy gable architecture of the dark timbre of pseudo-classical doors are free minded compositions born of stylistic pluralism. The art historian Georg Dehio opposed this approach, arguing that the building should retain the structure that had a volt organically. After this refurbishment the rooms were no longer used for the residential purposes of princes. Instead this became one of the first museums of cultural history and Baden to be accommodated in a former palace. It was used purely for collections. Following purchases from the princely dynasty of Baden in 1995, the rooms are quiet the historical furniture from the Neues Schloss in Baden-Baden.