Logo of the City of Heidelberg, Old Town Information, Photographs showing several sights of Heidelberg: Old Bridge and Castle, Town Hall, Bridge gate, Karl's Gate

Zum Riesen

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 "Zum Riesen", Haupstrasse 52

This magnificent Baroque palace was built in 1707 to replace the inn “Zum Löwen”, which had been destroyed in 1693. It was commissioned by Privy Counselor and Lieutenant-General Friedrich Freiherr von Venningen. Stones to construct it were also fetched from the collapsed “Fat Tower” at the rear left of the Castle. The architect was Johann Adam Breunig, who also designed the Old University and the Jesuit College. Heinrich Charassky carved the imposing statue of von Venningen that adorns the center projection level with the second upstairs floor.

In the years 1797-1819 the building contained the inn „Zum Riesen“ as well as a beer brewery and a schnapps distillery. Since roughly the mid-19th century, the house has been used by the university. Initially the anatomy, zoology and physics departments were based there. Well-known scientists did research there, including physicist Gustav Kirchhoff and chemist Robert Bunsen, who jointly invented spectral analysis; physiologist Hermann Helmholtz, who created a sensation around 1850 with the “fundoscope” – an instrument still used today to examine the back of the eye; and geologist Wilhelm Salomon-Calvi, who discovered a radium deposit on the shore of the Neckar near the borough of Bergheim and planned the water supply system for Turkey’s capital city, Ankara.