Discovering the Castle Grounds.
Stroll along the historical trail through the grounds of Heiligenberg Castle, where 16 information points present interesting historical facts. For example you can read about the amphorae along the balustrade or about the various memorial sights in the Golden Cross Garden (Kreuzgarten). The stations listed here are not all part of the historical trail.
1. The Fountain in the Castle Courtyard
The centre piece of the castle courtyard since 1885 has been a striking decorative fountain. The four mythical creatures spouting water into the stone basin out of a tall column surmounted by a lion is surrounded by trumpet trees. The present courtyard was significantly altered from the time of Grand Duchess Wilhelmine. A sketch by Prince Alexander shows the courtyard estate still from the time as an agricultural building.
2. The Garden Parlour
Alexander of Hesse and by Rhine had the Garden Parlour built in 1873. Flooded by daylight through large windows in all four walls and with its ornate stucco work and chandeliers it is without doubt the most beautiful and impressive room in the castle. In 2007 the extensive restoration was completed by the architectural office of Volk in Bensheim-Auerbach. Today, this well-preserved classicist hall can be hired for ceremonies and events.
3. The Russian House (Historical Trail)
During the numerous summer breaks, the Russian entourages used the so-called Russian House to accommodate the court servants who travelled with them. During the extensive restoration work completed in 2014, the perfectly preserved half-timbering in the upper gable section was exposed and preserved. Before the renovation (photo on the left), the Russian House was an unsightly broken-down building with wooden shingles. Now the smart-looking lodge houses a documentation and visitor’s information centre.
4. The Horse Memorial Slabs
These slabs were once set in the stables and moved to here when they were demolished. They refer to Duschek, the faithful horse of Alexander Prince of Bulgaria which he rode in the decisive battle of Slivnitsa (1885) against the Serbs and to Jessie, the riding horse of Princess Ludwig (Victoria of Hesse), the grandmother of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh that died here.
5. The Bathing Hut (Historical Trail)
Originally just a garden hut it was extended with an outside covered area and used for changing before a refreshing dip in the oval pool. It holds a small gallery of pictures and photos – open together with the Russian House.
6. The Dog Graves
Between the pool and the bathing hut are two dog graves with the still legible inscriptions: “To my faithful companion Fox, given by Alexander II of Russia, 10 April 1888” and “To my faithful friend of 14 years, Mylord, 29 August 1872”.
7. The Bathing Pool
The stone pool was probably the first ever along the Bergstraße and was initially built for the Tsar’s family to enjoy.
8. The Deer Lookout (Historical Trail)
The deer lookout was built by Prince Alexander and belonged to a game reserve extending along the slopes towards the Balkhausen valley. After it was wantonly set on fire a few years ago, it was rebuilt in 2014 with the help of Hesse forestry commission.
9. The Castle Pond (Historical Trail)
The idyllic pond was already started during the time of Grand Duchess Wilhelmine and enlarged by her son Prince Alexander in 1877 to what we see today. The excavated earth was used to construct the new approach road. The pond was probably also used for boating, as old rings on the small landing stage indicate.
10. The Pergola Tunnel (Historical Trail)
The pergola tunnel extended from below the terrace in the direction of the convent ruins. It was laid out shortly after 1830 by the gardener of Grand Duchess Wilhelmine and originally consisted of hazel and hornbeam. In the vernacular the pergola tunnel was referred to as the tunnel of love. Today, the walkway, which was restored in 2014, ends at the deer lookout. The illustration is depicted on a picture postcard from 1910.
11. The Convent Ruins (Historical Trail)
The convent ruins are located on almost the highest point in the west of the Heiligenberg grounds. The chapel of the former nunnery was donated by Konrad II of Bickenbach around 1264 – Bickenbach is just a few kilometres from Jugenheim. It fell into ruins over the centuries only to be reconstructed as a folly ruin by order of Grand Duchess Wilhelmine. The font, dating back to 1483, stood in the nearby protestant church until 1755. The three grave slabs also came from the nearby church.
12. The Golden Cross Garden (Historical Trail)
The Golden Cross Garden contains the the Golden Cross in memory of the Grand Duchess Wilhelmine, the Memorial Chapel where the remains of Alexander, Prince of Hesse and by Rhine lay in rest and the final resting place of both the Battenberg progenitors, Alexander and Julie Princess of Battenberg. On the grave is a memorial stone to their grandson Louis, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who fell victim to an assassination attempt by the IRA in 1979. The Golden Cross Garden is fenced off and only accessible by appointment (see under guided tours).
13. The Court Lime Tree (Historical Trail)
This lime tree is special as it is probably more than 800 years old and because official annual hundred court was held here in the shade of the tree up until the 15th century. At that time the hearings began early in the morning because an oath could only be taken during the rising phase of the sun.
14. The Memorial Chapel
The Memorial Chapel was built by order of Julie Princess of Battenberg as a mausoleum to house the remains of her deceased Husband, Alexander Prince of Hesse and by Rhine and completed in 1894. Alexander was originally buried in Darmstadt and his remains only moved to Heiligenberg a few years after his death. Today there are two relief bronzes inset below the side windows for the two sons, Alexander and Henry, who both died at an early age.
15. The Golden Cross (Historical Trail)
The eight metre cast iron Golden Cross is the centre point of this garden and a landmark of Jugenheim. It was erected in loving memory of the Grand Duchess Wilhelmine almost thirty years after her death and inaugurated in 1866 by her surviving children. This site was reputedly a favourite place of hers, where she enjoyed the magnificent view over the Rhine valley. The cross was designed by the Darmstadt sculptor Johann Baptist Scholl and was newly gilded in 1998.
16. The Protestant Hill Church
The history of the church is closely connected with Heiligenberg. It was founded in 1263 at around about the same time as the monastery. Prince Alexander had it renovated and altered to its present appearance even before the castle alterations were commenced.
17. The Gardener Villa
The extensive villa was built to accommodate the castle gardener and family, Gernet. It was completed in 1904, unfortunately only soon after the death of Johannes Gernet who had served as the court gardener for over 50 years. His son, Georg, and family lived there until the estate was sold by Prince Louis (alias Mountbatten) in 1920. The building is presently being extensively renovated and restored at large cost, supported by the foundation and other state institutions, in preparation for a yet to be determined use.
18. The Princess Lodge (Historical Trail)
The so-called Princess Lodge served as a playhouse for the children of the princely family and their related playmates. It was equipped with furniture and household goods in miniature fit in size for the children. In the times of the Pedagogical Institute after 1945, it was used as a coop. In 2014, the house was extensively restored.
19. The Amphorae (Historical Trail)
Grand Duchess Wilhelmine had the cast-iron amphorae, also known as crater vases, placed on the terrace wall. They were cast by the Schinkel iron foundry in Berlin. Unfortunately, over time several of them disappeared of which some without trace. A few others were rediscovered in the vicinity and returned to their rightful place.
20. The Schilbach View (Historical Trail)
One of the most beautiful views of Heiligenberg Castle can be enjoyed from the east above the castle. In the late 19th Century this view was possible further back but is now obstructed by trees. It is still known, though, as the Schilbach View after a famous painting by Johann Heinrich Schilbach (1798 to 1851). He was a sought-after landscape painter who, thanks to a scholarship from the Grand Duke in Darmstadt, was able to spend many years in Italy. After his return, he became a court theatre painter in Darmstadt.