Heidelberg Castle Illuminations
The ruins of Heidelberg Castle are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. The castle has been destroyed several times in its history, by bolts of lightning, for instance in 1537 when much of the upper part of the castle was destroyed, and again in 1764.The castle was also badly damaged in two major wars, the Thirty Years” War and the Palatinate War of Succession.
The city of Heidelberg was badly damaged during the Thirty Years” War (1618-1648), one of the most destructive conflicts in European history, when opposing armies fought in the hills above the town, and then again during the Palatinate War of Succession, also known as the War of the Grand Alliance (1689-1697). In 1693, the troops of the Sun King Louis XIV burnt down the castle, leaving behind the world-famous ruins.
To commemorate the destruction of the castle by the French, Heidelberg celebrates castle illuminations three times every summer. Picturesque Bengal fires flood the ruined walls in a dazzling red light. When the fire has died down, it is followed by a brilliant fireworks display over the Neckar. The Elector Friedrich V first had the fireworks staged in 1613, in order to provide a fitting welcome for his newly-betrothed wife Elizabeth Stuart. These fireworks laid the cornerstone for the later festivals of light held in the night sky over Heidelberg.
For the best view, find a space along the river routes Neckarstaden (south bank) or Ziegelhäuser Landstrasse and Neuenheimer Landstrasse (north bank). Or you can watch the spectacle from one of the boats which offer special trips along the river.
The Castle Illuminations are always accompanied by a concert at 18:15 in the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) on Marktplatz (Market Square). For tickets, call +49 (0)6221. 5820000.
The fireworks are ignited from the Old Bridge, which is closed to pedestrians from 17:00. Those on foot or bicycle can cross the river via the weir beside Karlstor and both pedestrians and cars can use the Theodor-Heuss-Bridge connecting Bismarckplatz with Neuenheim. All traffic is diverted from the roads along both sides of the Neckar river routes from around 21:00 until after the crowds have dispersed around 23:00 hours.
Castle Illuminations 2021 are cancelled
Due to the ongoing the coronavirus pandemic, the castle illumination planned for June 5, 2021, July 10, 2021 and September 4, 2021 unfortunately won’t take place.
Much of the information in this article is taken from Heidelberg Tourist Marketing, www.heidelberg-marketing.de