Heidelberg Castle in a painting by Hubert Sattler, circa 1900

Longing leads to HeidelbergRomanticism

The nearly forgotten castle was rediscovered in 1800. Artists of the Romantic period, in search of true feeling, were enchanted by the picturesque ruins. Heidelberg became the paragon of Romanticism, immortalized in countless poems and paintings.

Front view of the city facade of Mannheim Baroque Palace

Mannheim Palace as a contemporary residence.

A forgotten place

The wars of the 17th century and the lightning strikes of 1764 had destroyed large portions of Heidelberg Castle. The prince-electors of the Palatinate had relocated their residence to Mannheim, with the first stones for the Baroque palace being laid in 1720. The uninhabited Heidelberg Castle visibly fell to ruin and was increasingly taken over by plant life.

Heidelberg Palace in a painting by Otto Georgi, 1863

Romantically transfigured view.

Romanticism: feelings on center stage

At the end of the 18th century, a new movement took hold, a departure from the reason of the Enlightenment and the severity of Classicism. It placed feelings, passion, longing and individuality front and center. This culturally historical period, which stretched far into the 19th century, was called "Romanticism." Artists, poets and musicians of the Romantic period were looking for a lost world. They were guided by nature, fables, ancient myths and grandiose structures from times past. 

Heidelberg Castle as a symbol of Romanticism

An increasing number of travelers from home and abroad visited Heidelberg Castle. They were delighted by the interplay between the impressive architecture, the atmospheric way in which nature had enveloped it, and the enchanting setting above the Neckar valley. The cracked, ivy-covered walls kindled in them a wistful sentiment for days gone by. Heidelberg Castle became the symbol of Romanticism.

Watercolor pen and ink drawing of Heidelberg Palace by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, circa 1820

In 1820, Goethe drew the overgrown ruins.

Heidelberg Castle in a painting by Karl Weysser

Pure idyll: Heidelberg Castle in 1856.

Artists immortalize the enchantment of castle and town

19th-century artists loved Heidelberg and its fairytale castle ruins! Poets like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Hölderlin or Joseph von Eichendorff lauded its charms in lyrical verses. Watercolors, drawings and paintings by artists Carl Rottmann or William Turner depict the castle in a romantic light, even placing it in magical, often fanciful, landscapes. These artists' works established the fame of castle and town.

Experience Heidelberg Castle in early twilight. The setting sun makes the mighty sandstone walls glow a deep red!