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The City of Hei­del­berg and its sights: Church of the Holy Spirit

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.

Hei­del­berg sights: St. Peter´s Church

St. Peter’s Church is loca­ted right oppo­site the university’s library. It’s the oldest church of Hei­del­berg and the former ver­sion of this buil­ding was first docu­men­ted in 1196. It was a Roma­nes­que church in the middle of a small vill­lage. The city of Hei­del­berg was foun­ded in the begin­ning of the 13th cen­tury by a dynasty called the Wit­tels­ba­cher. The church was loca­ted out­side the city walls for a long time. The envi­rons of St. Peter’s Church were used as a ceme­tery until the ope­ning of the moun­tain ceme­tary in 1844. Even today you can find graves and monu­ments of the past cen­tu­ries if you take a walk around the buil­ding. Inside the church you can also visit a lot of graves of pro­fes­sors of the uni­ver­sity, elec­to­ral civil ser­vants and other respec­ted citi­zens. The most famous grave is the one of poet Olym­pia Fulvia Morata. She died in Hei­del­berg in 1555 und was known as one of the most eru­di­ted woman of her time.

In former times St. Peter´s Church was used as a parish church, in 1400 it was appoin­ted col­le­giate church by elec­tor Ruprecht III. It was com­ple­tely res­to­red in 1489. The chapel with an arched choir and the west-tower were desi­gned in a late Gothic style. Des­troyed in the Pala­tine war of suc­ces­sion (1689 — 1693), it was rebuilt at the begin­ning of the 18th cen­tury in a Baro­que style. 1863 — 1870 it was recon­struc­ted in neo-Gothic style with a three-aisled nave. Even until today this church has been rede­si­gned for a couple of times, because of various reno­va­tions and chan­gings in uti­li­za­tion.

Today St. Peter’s Church is used by the uni­ver­sity for pro­tes­tant ser­vices, as well as for various con­certs and exhi­bi­tons.

The church is open to the public on working days bet­ween 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. from April to Octo­ber.