The Church of the Holy Spirit was first documented as parish church in 1239. This basilica, probably from the late Romanesque period, was replaced in 1398 by the building you can see today. Elector Ruprecht III. (becoming King Ruprecht I. later) had ordered to build this late Gothic collegiate church in combination with founding the university in 1386. In the first days the church was not only used for services, but also as a lecture hall by the university. The interior of the church consisted of a three-aisled nave and choir. The library was located on the gallery. The world famous Bibliotheca Palatina was founded by elector Ludwig III. in the time during 1410 to 1436 by leaving his valuable collection of books to the library. But it was stolen during the Thirty Years´ War (1618 -1648) by General Tilly. This spoils of war were later given to pope Gregor XV. as a gift by elector Maximilian I. of Bavaria.
About 70 years later the Church of the Holy Spirit was again the reason for trouble. It was set on fire and almost destroyed by the French army of King Ludwig XIV. in the Palatine war of succession in 1633. All graves of the Palatine electoral rulers were destroyed, except the one of Ruprecht III. When reconstructed later, the church got a Baroque style roof, and this is still the way it is looking today. Very special on this church are the market stalls which are erected against its eastern and southern outside walls. Needful and unneccessary things are actually sold to tourists in this souvenir stalls. The Church of the Holy Spirit was used over the years by Protestants and Catholics. The degree “Simultaneum” was permitting both confessions to do services simultaneously since 1698. But it was also the reason for building a partition, which finally was pulled down in 1936.
TIP: Keep in mind to climb up the steeple if you visit the church. After making the steep ascent you will have an amazing view over the Old Town, from Neckar up to the castle.