Truly romantic: the world-famous ruins

Heidelberg Palace

Renaissance garden design

The garden

No visit to Heidelberg Palace is complete without a stroll through the romantic palace gardens, the once famous Hortus Palatinus. The Artillery Garden with its elaborate Elisabeth Gate affords wonderful views of the palace and the city.

Heidelberg Palace, painting by Jacques Fouquières around 1620; photo: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Lutz Hecker

Jacques Fouquières painted the garden in perfect condition around 1620.

Fortifications become gardens

From the founding of the palace in the 13th to the beginning of the 17th century, strategic considerations left little room for a pure pleasure garden. Strong fortifications with ramparts, towers and casemates surrounded Heidelberg Palace. Elector Friedrich V was the first to order a showcase palace garden, the Hortus Palatinus, to be established between 1616 and 1619.

Heidelberg Palace, fountain with “Father Rhine”; photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Ursula Wetzel

Fountain with “Father Rhine”.

Transition to landscaped gardens in the 19th century

The Hortus Palatinus remained incomplete: the Thirty Years' War broke out in 1618, resulting in initial devastation of the Electoral Palatinate. Untended, the garden gradually fell into disrepair. Having been used as a vegetable garden in the 18th century, it was planted with botanical rarities during the next century. In the style of an English landscaped garden, evergreen oaks, Lebanon cedars and maidenhair trees now grew in fields that were once structured in strict geometry.

Transition to landscaped gardens in the 19th century

The Hortus Palatinus remained incomplete: the Thirty Years' War broke out in 1618, resulting in initial devastation of the Electoral Palatinate. Untended, the garden gradually fell into disrepair. Having been used as a vegetable garden in the 18th century, it was planted with botanical rarities during the next century. In the style of an English landscaped garden, evergreen oaks, Lebanon cedars and maidenhair trees now grew in fields that were once structured in strict geometry.

Heidelberg Palace, garden; photo: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende

Old trees characterize the garden today.

The garden today

Stroll at leisure through Heidelberg Palace gardens today and you will discover countless fascinating traces of times gone by. Remains of columns point to the Renaissance garden's once magnificent garden cabinets. The view from the different terraces to the palace and the Neckar valley is breath-taking. The palace gardens are fully accessible and worth a visit at any time of year.