Among other things Heidelberg is well known for its wines. And there was probably no other man in town who loved more to drink its wine than the popular midget Perkeo who is today a significant character for Heidelberg. His statue is placed in the Heidelberg Castle exactly opposite to the Heidelberg Tun which could contain in his former days 195 000 liters of wine. According to that the Heidelberg Tun ranks among the biggest wooden wine barrel.
But who was actually Perkeo and why is he famous in Heidelberg?
Perkeo was a runtish man originally from a region which today is known as South Tirol. His full name was Clemens Pankert. HIs nickname “Perkeo” he got because of his often used answer “Perche no!” to the question whether he wants to drink some wine. From the italien “Perche no!” means “Why not!”
During his lifetime Clemens Pankert was a court dwarf, major domo and cupbearer of Heidelberg. The Palatinate electoral prince Karl III. Philip thought Perkeo is interesting because of his small stature. And so the electoral prince incorporated him to his court in 1720. Perkeo was good in his job as court draft and joked much around. Even today they tell many stories and anecdotes about him.
According to legend Perkeo is said to drink wine by the liter. It is also said that he became ill just in his later age. They say when his doctor has given him the advice to drink less wine Perkeo drunk his first glass of water and died a couple of days later.
Today Perkeo is the landmark of the town’s wine culture. In his honor there is a pub in Heidelberg named “Perkeo”.