The history of the hotel zum Ritter in Heidelberg lends more interest to the second most photographed site in the city. The Hotel Zum Ritter St. Georg’s incredible architecture and rich history make this hotel a must-see, and when we learned the location is incredible and rates were reasonable, we were sold.
Given the choice when traveling, I love finding historic and interesting hotels (unless traveling with the kids, when pool & amenities must take precedent!). I love a good story and a rich background. Knowing we are walking on floors where the famous walked, or momentous events occurred. When we were surfing websites and choosing our hotel for Heidelberg, Germany, Hotel Zum Ritter came out on top for both historic interest and service.
Heidelberg’s Hotel Zum Ritter History and Façade
The History and Survival of Hotel Zum Ritter in Heidelberg:
The Zum Ritter was built in 1592, by Charles (Carolus) Bélier, a Huguenot cloth merchant. Apparently, he had the ornate, late Renaissance style home built for his wife, Francina. Due to solid stone construction and somewhat to luck, the home survived fires, invasions, and wars that most of the rest of Heidelberg did not. It has stood through the Thirty Years war, the War of the Grand Alliance, the War of the Palatinate Succession, conquering by the Grand Duchy of Baden, occupatoin by Prussian troops, and World Wars I & II. That’s no small list.
Because it’s beauty, strength, and staying power, the hotel Ritter even served as City Hall for Heidelberg from 1693-1703. The history and appearance of the hotel Ritter has led to it becoming the second most photographed sight in Heidelberg, second only to Heidelberg Castle.
Façade of Heidelberg’s Hotel Zum Ritter:
There are many busts on the façade of the building, some known to be of Charles and Francina, but others left to speculation. The rams, fruit, & cherubs all symbolized the family’s wealth and abundance. In addition to all of this, gold inscriptions were carved on the front and translate, roughly, to: “God alone be glory” “If Jehovah did not build the house, his builders worked in vain.” and “Always remain undefeated, beauty.” Which, given the impressive history of the Hotel Ritter through Heidelberg’s turmoil, seems nearly prophetic!
The stalwart Hotel Zum Ritter St. Georg so impressed Victor Hugo, that he wrote at length about the ornate house’s survival of repeated incursions on Heidelberg.
To see some amazing old photos of Hotel Zum Ritter over the years, check out the hotel website.
Staying in Heidelberg’s Hotel Zum Ritter St. Georg
Unbeatable Location in Heidelberg’s Altstadt:
My first practical criteria for the hotel was location. I knew we would not have a vehicle, and I didn’t want everything we wanted to see to be a three mile hike. Hotel Zum Ritter’s location can’t get much better. Situated right on Marktplatz, the main square of the Altstadt (Old Town) area, the souvenir booths and restaurants were just steps from the entrance. Many sites were just a short walk away. We really couldn’t do much better than that.
To check out all there is to do in Heidelberg, Germany, go to the Tourism Website HERE
We were very pleased with our room size and furnishings. We had a king size bed, full size sofa with a small table, small desk in the corner, a dresser, and a large wardrobe with space for hanging clothes and shelving. We also had a movable floor lamp and oscillating fan which was particularly helpful as there was no effective air conditioning. With all of that in our room, we still had plenty of room to walk around and lounge. There were also built in night stands beside the bed, and outlets within easy reach for charging, and a mini fridge to store a few snacks we had brought back to the room. Very helpful!
The bed was comfortable and with the windows open and fan going, we were able to fall easily asleep, even in the middle of summer. (Though, in restrospect, that could also be due to the impressive amount of walking we were doing.)
The bath was excellent! I love Europe. I love traveling Europe, seeing the historic and cultural sights. But, often, the bathrooms can be small for this American, used to our ‘supersize’ culture. At Hotel Zum Ritter the bath was spacious and fully updated with the toilet, sink, and bath/shower combo laid out with plenty of extra space for hubby and I to be working around each other at times. I had no complaints at all!
It’s always a nice touch when a hotel includes some sort of breakfast with the room, and the breakfast at Zum Ritter was beyond what we expected. Our first morning we found the buffet and chose some items from the assortment of meats, cheese, juices, yogurts, and fruit, not realizing that also included was made-to-order eggs or omelet, as well as sausage or bacon. It made for easy breakfasts that were substantial enough to allow us to skip lunch, or just have a small afternoon snack, and then hold out for dinner. (Though, yummy Heidelberg food… you won’t always want to skip lunch!)
The Staff of Hotel Zum Ritter St. Georg:
Everyone we dealt with during our stay was unfailingly pleasant and helpful. The front desk staff told us about evening fireworks we didn’t know were happening, and recommended the best location to for a view. They lent us umbrellas when we needed them, brought us extra waters to our room, and also kept our bags for us the last morning we were there, so we could check out, but spend our last day in Heidelberg before coming back to claim our bags move on to our next location. The single server in the restaurant for breakfast was very busy taking care of everyone, but was still smiling and helpful, and after the first morning remembered I take decaf coffee on our subsequent visits. When we lingered over breakfast and the crowd thinned, she stopped to chat with us, asking where we were from and what brought us to Heidelberg, smiling and laughing with us over our language barrier stumbles.
Overall, the Hotel Zum Ritter was a convenient, well appointed hotel with an excellent staff, and a side order of history beauty thrown in.
Go to the Hotel Zum Ritter St. Georg’s Website to check out the hotel and book a room. If you are visiting Germany, be sure to check out this guide to all you need to know about visit Germany, such as best time to visit, visas, transportation, and more.