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Truly romantic: the world-famous ruins

Heidelberg Palace

Stückgarten von Schloss Heidelberg; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Julia Haseloff
A stroll with a view of Heidelberg

The Artillery Garden

The view of Heidelberg Palace and the historic district on the Neckar river from the Artillery Garden is one of the most beautiful. The grand Elizabeth Gate, a royal birthday gift from the 17th century, is a favorite photographed scene.

View of the Fat Tower at Heidelberg Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Achim Mende

The Artillery Garden lies at the base of the Fat Tower.

A fortification with a spectacular view

Around 1525, Ludwig V had a massive rampart west of the palace artificially raised and walled in. This is where the prince-elector positioned his cannons to protect his residence. These were also called "artillery." The substructure of the Fat Tower and the once five-story-tall turret are the last remnants of that old fortification. Today, the shattered shell of the turret is a terrace that offers a grand view far out across the Rhine plain.

Detail of a copper engraving of Heidelberg Palace and garden, by Matthäus Merian, circa 1620. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Andrea Rachele

The historic Artillery Garden.

Conversion to a pleasure garden

Around 1613, Prince-Elector Friedrich V, always thinking about appropriate representation, commissioned his architect, Salomon de Caus, to convert the Artillery Garden into a private pleasure garden for his wife. The open space along the ramparts were now walled in and finished with an aviary to the south. The neighboring stately Elizabeth Gate was the access point. In the garden, a small avenue leads to the English Building. Ornamental beds were pleasing to the electress and her ladies.

View of the Elizabeth Gate in the Artillery Garden at Heidelberg Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

A demonstration of love for a sophisticated wife.

The Elizabeth Gate

The Elizabeth Gate in the Artillery Garden is a true treasure, and was likewise commissioned by Friedrich V from Salomon de Caus. Friedrich V had it built for his wife, Elizabeth Stuart, in 1615. According to the legend, it was a birthday gift and is said to have been built in a single night. The triumphal-arch-style structure is adorned with delicate ornamental sculpture. The stone foliage hides many animals, such as frogs, lizards and squirrels.