Heidelberg’s Witch Tower

The Witch Tower, also known as the Thief’s Tower, is an old tower which has been survived since the Middle Ages. Until 1392 the tower was part of the western city fortification. Later on he is said to function as jail for mail and female robbers and thieves. It would be not right to assume that the name of the tower emerged during the time of witch-hunt, which in Heidelberg happened approximately from 1450 to 1500. Not until 1684 did the tower get the name “Witch Tower”. Probably they looked back at the cruel time of witch-hunt and decided to give the tower that name which would emphasize all the brutality of the jail.

Witch Tower of Heidelberg

During the War of the Palatinate Succession, that took place from 1688 to 1697, the Witch Tower was partly destroyed. After its rebuilding it has lost its initially peaked roof because during the time of rebuilding hip roofs were in fashion, so they replaced the peak roof by the hip roof.

Today the Witch Tower is placed in the yard of the New University. I n the 20th century the tower was included into the construction of the New University, i.e. the buildings of the New University were built around the tower.

In 1932/33 they additionally erected in the first floor of the tower a memorial place for students, lecturers and officials of the Heidelberg University who were fallen soldiers of the World War I. The memorial consists of stone slabs which are fixed on the walls of the tower and which are inscribed with names of the fallen persons.

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