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Truly romantic: the world-famous ruins

Heidelberg Palace

Heidelberg Palace in a painting by Hubert Sattler, circa 1900. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer
Longing leads to Heidelberg

Romanticism

The nearly forgotten palace 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. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

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 Palace. 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 Palace visibly fell to ruin and was increasingly taken over by plant life.

Heidelberg Palace in a painting by Otto Georgi, 1863. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

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 Palace as a symbol of Romanticism

An increasing number of travelers from home and abroad visited Heidelberg Palace. 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 Palace became the symbol of Romanticism.

Watercolor pen and ink drawing of Heidelberg Palace by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, circa 1820. Image: Goethe Museum Düsseldorf

In 1820, Goethe drew the overgrown ruins.

Heidelberg Palace in a painting by Karl Weysser. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

Pure idyll: Heidelberg Palace in 1856.

Artists immortalize the enchantment of palace and town

19th-century artists loved Heidelberg and its fairytale palace 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 palace in a romantic light, even placing it in magical, often fanciful, landscapes. These artists' works established the fame of palace and town.