The Bridge Monkey and the Gross Vat

I bet your vision of traveling through Europe doesn’t include mounting a gross vat or groping a bridge monkey. But if you travel to Heidelberg, Germany, that might just be what you do.

The gross vat is located here, inside the Heidelberg Castle.

Heidelberg Castle

It’s not gross as in disgusting, but gross as in the German word for big. The vat is the world’s largest wine cask. A 130 oak trees were needed to build the vat and visitors must climb 42 steps to reach the top.

The Gross Vat

The gross vat is guarded by the famous dwarf Perkeo, a court fool who is said to have died after drinking a glass of water instead of the 18 bottles per day of wine he was used to.


After visiting the castle, make your way to the Old Bridge Gate. This is where the bridge monkey stands guard.

Old Bridge Gate

Touching the monkey is supposed to guarantee good luck, a safe return, and many babies. The mirror the monkey holds is meant to remind the people passing through the bridge gate to look both ahead and behind.


Just don’t get confused – if you intend to rub the monkey for good luck, I recommend approaching him from ahead and not behind!


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