Bildnis Louis Charles François de Graimberg-Belleau (1774–1864)

Protector of the palace ruinsCharles von Graimberg

Louis Charles François de Graimberg-Belleau (1774–1864) was French landed gentry, living in exile in Germany since 1791. His drawings made Heidelberg Castle famous outside the region. He persistently fought to save the historically significant castle ruins.

Aquarellierte Federzeichnung des Heidelberger Schlosses von Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, um 1820, Foto: Goethe-Museum Düsseldorf

In 1820, Goethe drew the overgrown ruins of Heidelberg Castle.

What remained of the proud Heidelberg Castle?

The once proud residence of prince-electors of the Palatinate had suffered greatly during the wars of the 17th century. Roofs and doors were missing, defensive walls had been destroyed and were overgrown with plants. Following a lightning strike in 1764, the buildings were burned out. The castle had visibly fallen to ruins and now only served Heidelberg residents as a stone quarry. The House of Baden, as its new owners, showed little interest in the Electoral Palatinate's legacy. 

Aerial view of Heidelberg Castle

The small bridge gatehouse guards the entrance to the castle.

Why did Graimberg fall in love with a ruin?

Charles de Graimberg saw the castle as a symbol of a once-mighty and proud dynasty, whose memory should be preserved. He collected everything that had to do with the Palatine House of Wittelsbach: coins, paintings, drawings, porcelain, glass and metal items. He compiled more than 9,000 objects and displayed them in the castle's bridge gatehouse. Later, Graimberg established the first castle museum in the Friedrich Building.

How did Graimberg preserve and protect the castle?

Charles de Graimberg recognized Heidelberg Castle's cultural historical value early on. He meticulously documented the state of the ruins in sketches and studies. Most notably, he recorded the partially lost art collection. It intended to implement measures to protect this important cultural monument himself. His letters and actions finally brought the castle ruins to the attention of the Baden authorities.

Former room of Count Charles de Graimberg in the Friedrich’s Wing at Heidelberg Castle

The count lived in this room of the castle.

Address: Hall of Glass, Heidelberg Castle!

The castle ruins were accessible to everyone. Graimberg witnessed how more and more parts of the remaining decorative figures on the Ottheinrich’s Wing were destroyed. But the Baden authorities refused to employ a guard. Out of love for "his palace," Graimberg himself moved into a tower room in the Hall of Glass in 1811. Today, castle tours include this room, now named after him.

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