View of the casemates at Heidelberg Palace

Gloomy vaulted passagewaysThe casemates

A sought-after but seldom found treasure: the casemates of Heidelberg Palace. From the outside, these hidden 16th-century passageways are often only detectable because of small embrasures.

View of the Apothecary's Tower, the Ottheinrich Building and the bell tower with pointed casemate in the foreground

Pointed casemates surround the buildings.

Defensive fortress

Prince-Elector Ludwig V expanded Heidelberg Palace into a fortress during the first half of the 16th century. In addition to massive towers and thick defensive walls, casemates were also installed. These above-ground vaulted passageways offered protection from enemy artillery fire. Troops could also move undetected between fortifications around the palace.

Vault of the north casemate

Vault of the north casemate.

The north casemate

The north casemate, built in 1535, runs between the Fat Tower to the west and the Ladies' Building to the east. It cordons off the stag pit and the Artillery Garden from the town. In the early 17th century, the north casemate served as a dado, or pedestal, for the English Building. Tours include a short passageway through this old fortification.

View of the powder tower at Heidelberg Palace

Hiding between the powder tower and a supporting wall: the barrier.

Eastern fortifications

Casemates in front of the palace have also been preserved on the east side, between the Apothecary's Tower and the powder tower. They were constructed in the second half of the 16th century. The interior casemate passageway between the powder tower and the retaining wall for the terrace was an important element of the palace's defense. This casemate protected the palace entrance from the Frisian valley.

In the summer, the Heidelberg Palace Service Center offers special tours through the casemates.

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