We had been on the Observation Deck, above, looking at the view of Heidelberg and also the Moat. This gives you a better image of how high up we were above the bottom of the moat.
Before entering the Gate or Clock Tower, we had to enter the Bridge House. Which of course housed the Bridge guards. There was a stone bridge over the moat leading to the castle.
And this is the backside of the Prison Tower ruin with those lovely lilacs growing out of the sandstone.
After going through the Bridge House, we saw this ornately carved guard and his lion on the Gate Tower. Remember, the clock was on the other side, facing the interior courtyard.
He was extremely jovial looking for someone guarding the castle. And he and his lion companion had so much detail, just like the Elector Princes Friedrich and Ludwig. He looks like he is almost laughing.
As we got closer, we saw his friend on the other side. There was a crest missing in the middle. There was a lot of reconstruction and restoration going on when we visited. I wish that had been in place.
And then we arrived at the gate. Of course it was huge and I did not get a picture of the entrance but my friend June did manage to get a shot of the Portcullis.
I just loved the door! It was interesting to see the small door within the big door. This was used when a visiting dignitary would arrive and they didn’t want to open up the entire door just to let one or two people in. And, there was a legend surrounding this door.
The large iron ring has a crack and dent in it supposedly made by a witch that was trying to gain the castle’s power. One of the dying Electoral Princes did not have an heir so he decreed that anyone that could bit through the ring surely would be strong enough to handle the power of the castle. No man in the kingdom could successfully bite through the ring, but a witch attempted and almost succeeded, until she lost her teeth in the process. So, they say the crack and dent in the door are from the old witch, thus, the door is named the Witch’s Bite Door.
After entering the courtyard we were overwhelmed at all the different buildings, but Evelyn directed us to an incline at the base of the Glaserner Saalbau and the Friedrichsbau. We were heading down under to the castle cellar to see the World’s Largest Wine Barrel or the Heidelberg Tun.
Here is our group heading down to see this great vat of wine. We are using our Audio Vox systems so that we can clearly hear Evelyn tell us about this marvel.
And here is Evelyn standing in front of the staircase you can take to get to the dance floor on top of the barrel. Yes, they built a dance floor on top – evidently they liked to drink and dance. Although, I am not sure I would want to make too many trips up and down that spiral staircase after I had been drinking.
And here is the wine barrel. Hmm…I can hear you now. Well, that’s not that big. Let me just say looks can be deceiving. Especially at the angle this was taken and the location of where we were standing. This Fass (Barrel) is the fourth one on this site. The others all had to be replaced. This Fass holds over 57,000 gallons and was built in 1751. It is made of oak and due to the aging of the wood, it does not even hold as much today as it did when it was built. When it was built it held about 1,000 more gallons of wine.
And here is the dance floor on top. And it looks like the Fass could use a little dusting. Actually today the Fass is empty. It is merely a tourist attraction. But it has held wine and was at one time used to collect taxes from the local wine growers. Can you imagine all those different kinds of wine being held in this huge barrel? I am sure that probably didn’t taste the best, but maybe if you were going to have a party and go dancing on top, you weren’t worried about how it tasted.
Ok, so you still don’t think its that big? Look at the bottom left on the image above. See that guy’s head?
And see how little that lady is walking in front of it? This thing is monster size. Really! And another funny part about this was the guard or keeper of the barrel was a court jester. Evidently one of the Elector Princes came into contact with a little person on his journeys in Italy that loved to drink wine. So the Prince brought him to the castle and made him the keeper of the barrel.
His name was Perkeo and they have a little wooden statue of him by the barrel. He is a legend in the city and you can also find his image throughout Heidelberg. He was rumored to drink over five gallons of wine a day. And it was also kind of funny how this small little man was in charge of the largest wine barrel known to man. He was also known not to turn down a cup, saying “Why Not” when offered a refill.
So maybe that’s why our guard was smiling – maybe he was a friend of Perkeo’s or maybe he also was fond of saying “Why Not?”
Until next time…
This is not a sponsored post. This is my experience from my trip with Viking River Cruises. Email me to find out how you can save $100 when you book your first cruise with Viking through their referral program.