Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Heidelberg castle

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Walter Benjamin writes of Heidelberg Castle in One Way Street: “Ruins jutting into the sky can appear doubly beautiful on clear days when, in their windows or above their contours, the gaze meets passing clouds. Through the transient spectacle it opens in the sky, destruction reaffirms the eternity of these fallen stones.”

One might compare the effect of the statues of the apostles, lining the fa├žade of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. As I remember it, the vast blue sky renders them life-like, stepping out of time, with nothing to connect them to the modern city beneath. In contrast the ruined walls of Heidelberg and the passing clouds seen by Benjamin signal the presence of time, slow and fleeting.

Stone and sky: both statues and ruins are temporary transformations of stone, but the sky itself, ever-changing, represents the fullness of time.

1 comment:

Alfio said...

I always thought the same about the ruins of the Heidelberger castle, and more: this wonderful image of distruction of a strong symbol of power as a castle is, which can always be seen from every corner of the town, and at first it looks still standing and then you see that it is empty inside, and it reminds me not of the war, but of an inner liberation.