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Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg Tun

Sitting in the basement of a castle, the largest wine barrel in the world is bigger than most apartments. 

Bringing new meaning to the term “drinking a ton,” Heidelberg Castle’s almost comically huge wine cask, known as the Heidelberg Tun, is a massive, one-of-a-kind booze barrel that has been inspiring dreams of world-shattering drunkenness for hundreds of years despite being empty for most of its life.

Built in 1751, the giant wooden barrel was the third such titanic wine holder to be constructed in the area but is the only one to remain. While it may seem as though it was designed to be a novelty, the tun served a much more mundane purpose. In the era when it was created, public taxes were paid in goods and for an area that excelled in wine-making that meant a lot of government vino. To hold all of the donated drink, giant casks were created and all of the tributes were collected into an undoubtedly vile slurry.

Even though the barrel acted as a tax coffer, it was empty most of the time. It still bears hatchet marks from when French soldiers who had taken the castle tried to break into the barrel for some disgusting victory drinks, but gave up when they realized that it was tapped.

Today the barrel continues to draw crowds, who come to see the monumental drunk tank. Things have changed over the years and the tun caters to its tourist visitors more than to its bureaucratic past, with a dance floor built on top and constant wine tastings. Even with the modern changes, the filigreed grandeur still looks like something out of a pirate’s fantasy.