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Truly romantic: the world-famous ruins

Heidelberg Palace

Bildnis Louis Charles François de Graimberg-Belleau (1774–1864); Foto: Wikipedia, gemeinfrei
Protector of the palace ruins

Charles 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 Palace famous outside the region. He persistently fought to save the historically significant palace ruins.

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 of Heidelberg Palace.

What remained of the proud Heidelberg Palace?

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 palace 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 Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende

The small bridge gatehouse guards the entrance to the palace.

Why did Graimberg fall in love with a ruin?

Charles de Graimberg saw the palace 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 palace's bridge gatehouse. Later, Graimberg established the first palace museum in the Friedrich Building.

How did Graimberg preserve and protect the palace?

Charles de Graimberg recognized Heidelberg Palace'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 palace ruins to the attention of the Baden authorities.

Former room of Count Charles de Graimberg in the Friedrich Building at Heidelberg Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

The count lived in this room of the palace.

Address: Hall of Glass, Heidelberg Palace!

The palace ruins were accessible to everyone. Graimberg witnessed how more and more parts of the remaining decorative figures on the Ottheinrich Building 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, palace tours include this room, now named after him.

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