Heitersheim Palace is among the most beautiful cultural monuments along the southern Upper Rhine. Once a residence for ecclesiastics, it is now privately owned, and can be visited in the course of a guided tour. The permanent exhibition in the basement of the former Maltese palace centres around the Knights of Malta and St. John, which have both left their mark on the premises. Furthermore, you learn about the palace's history. A true to scale model of the palace with its ditch and Baroque gardens, for example, shows you what the premises looked like in 1773.
While you're here, you shouldn't miss out on exploring the gardens. The splendid rosery is the heart of the premises, and at its most beautiful during the summer. Artistry and nature are brought together in the courtyard, where you find a maze of boxtrees. The courts and park are accessible at all times.
The castle buildings go back as far as to the 11th century, when it was under Staufer rule. In 1272 it was transferred to the Knights of John from Freiburg, who brought it to its full bloom, which is why more and more high-ranking monastics made it their place of residence. In the 16th century, the palace became the permanent residence of the respective prior of the order, giving it crucial importance for the community. Hence, the estate was extended further.
Despite numerous changes of owner, most of them took good care of keeping it good condition or extending it. In the 19th century, it came into possession of another religious order, this time the Sisters of Mercy of Saint Vincent of Paul. During that time, it was used as a community home, and expanded by a house for the sisters. The order still has its seat at Heidenheim Palace today. However, large parts of the estate are used as a school and workshop for children with disabilities since 1967.
How to get there
Heitersheim Palace is located right by the Upper Rhine, between Freiburg and Lörrach, and is easily accessible by car via B3 or A5. Exit the motorway at Bad Krozingen (coming from Freiburg) or Neuenburg (coming from the south), and continue towards Heitersheim. Now follow the signs pointing to Malteserschloss. There is no car park right at the palace. However, there public parking is available free of charge within a few minutes' walk.