Heidelberg Castle is not much more than a shell of collapsed stone, but it’s undoubtedly very pretty, overlooking the Altstadt from the Königstuhl hillside. Nowadays, the castle is mainly ruined towers and empty windows, having been destroyed by numerous wars over the centuries. The Powder Turret was blown apart by the gun powder it used to contain, and is now only half a tower, with plants growing over and around it. The castle ruins are all the more attractive for being ruined though, and what better way to celebrate their uniqueness than by pretending, three times are year, that the castle is on fire again?
During the Schlossbeleuchtung (castle illumination), the castle is made to glow as if it’s on fire, but with fewer attacking French troops and more fireworks. The ‘show’ itself lasts no more than 15 minutes, yet people crowd onto the riverbank hours in advance with picnics, barbecues and alcohol, and it’s definitely the atmosphere that draws people in – the fireworks are almost a sideshow. It seems to be an obligation for most people in Heidelberg, like standing in the garden on Bonfire Night with a sparkler, shivering. Except this wasn’t a British November, this was southern Germany, in June, and I’ll happily be sitting by the river at midnight with a glass of Sekt in a month’s time, for the second Schlossbeleuchtung of the year!
Two hours beforehand!
Amy Ainsworth – Heidelberg, Germany