If a city exists that truly embodies the spirit of Germany, then that city is Heidelberg. The city set on the slopes of the Odenwald, in the state of Baden Wurttemberg, has 140,000 inhabitants. Heidelberg is situated in the heart of the country, on the banks of the river Neckar. Heidelberg has always been an artistic and cultural centre of prime importance, thanks above all to its university, which is over 600 years old and the oldest university in Germany. A romantic city, lived in and loved by such famous poets as Arnim, Brentano,Holderlin, Eichendorff and Goethe. Today Heidelberg, with its splendid and intact medieval centre, is one of the most attractive and visited cities in Germany.
The presence of over 20,000 students makes the city a very lively place and serves to keep it young. In addition a busy calendar of cultural activities enriches the already wide variety of city exhibitions. Heidelberg dedicates a large amount of time and space to its theatre and opera productions, but visitors are also warmly welcomed with other fine exhibitions throughout the year including: the Heidelberger Fruehling ( the Heidelberg spring) a festival dedicated to symphony music, the Castle Festival, dedicated to the cinema, the Heidelberger Herbst ( the Heidelberg autumn) an interesting annual market and the not to be missed Christmas Market. Heidelberg has something to offer at all times of the year.
The main tourist sight is the Schloss, a castle, one of the finest examples of a Gothic -Renaissance fortress in Germany. The original castle dates back to the 12th century, but the oldest remaining part today, dates back to the 15th century. The building has been throughout the ages both attacked, destroyed and re-built and it is for this reason that today it clearly shows the various phases and different styles of its construction. However it is its laboured past and present day crumbling state that contribute greatly to the castles romantic feel. Visitors can enjoy a spectacular view over the city and the river Neckar from the castle terrace.
The castle's cellars are located in the corner of the inner courtyard. The cellars are home to the Grosses Fass, the largest wine cask ever produced. It was constructed in 1751, using the trunks of 130 oaks and it is said that it could contain more than 221,000 litres of wine. Another curiosity of the city is the Deutsches Apothekenmuseum, dedicated to the chemistry and alchemy of the past. The castle is open every day from 9am to 5pm and is easily reached by a rack-railway, which departs from the Kornmarkt station. A visit to the old part of Heidelberg can start at Alte Bruecke, the old bridge with its celebrated monkey statue. The Heiliggeistkirche, the city's most important church, in Gothic style but with a roof in Baroque, is located in Markt, the city's old main square with the Hercules fountain at its centre. The Jesuitenkirche, the one time Jesuit church, dating back to the first decade of the 18th century, is located in Schulgasse, in the Jewish district.
The Alte Universitaet, a 17th-century building in Baroque style, stands in Universitaetplatz. The Studentenkarzer, a student prison, is situated in Augustinergasse. This building was used between 1779 and 1914 to punish students guilty of punishable crimes or behaviour. Sentences were for a minimum period of three days, during which the students were fed only bread and water.
Hotels and lodgingEdit
- A long stroll along the Philosophenweg to the north of Neckar is absolutely obligatory in any visit to Heidelberg. The path climbs through steep vineyards and fruit tree plantations and offers magnificent views of the old city and castle.
- The Kurpfalzisches Museum is very interesting and is housed in a splendid palace built in 1712. It houses a collection which traces the history of the city and its region. Among the objects on display there is the copy of the jaw-bone of the so-called Heidelberg Man, an important link in the evolutionary chain, which dates back to almost half a million years ago. The original, with the rest of the skeleton, is housed in the Centre of Paleonthology. Other important attractions include the works of important artists like Durer and Van der Weyden and the Windsheimer Zwoelfbotenaltar, a magnificent altar piece from the 15th century. The museum is located in Hauptstrasse 97 and is open from Monday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.).
- Excursions and trips in the Neckar Valley are an excellent way of getting to know the countryside which surrounds Heidelberg. Boat trips along the river Neckar are particularly pleasant. These trips are operated by Rhein-Neckar Fahrgastschiffahrt and leave from the city, from the southern bank of the river. The tour passes through old and fascinating villages and reaches such interesting destinations as the Hirschhorn and Neckar Steinach Castles. The four castles of Neckar Steinach were built by four brothers in the 12th century following a family feud. Two of the castles are still inhabited today by descendants of the brothers.
Maps and transportationEdit
Getting to HeidelbergEdit
The old part of Heidelberg can easily be visited on foot. In order to visit the modern part of the city it is advisable to use the efficient public transport network (tram and bus) that uses the Bismarck Platz as its focal point.
Practical information and resourcesEdit
Currency : Euro
Electric supply: 220Volts, 50 Hertz
Climate : Nuremberg has a pleasant climate with warm summers, mild winters and an average rainfall of 700mm. The temperature ranges from 1 °C in January to 20 °C in the summer months
Language : German
Opening hours : Shops are open Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm and Saturday mornings from 9am to 1pm. The large supermarkets and shops generally stay open on weekdays from 9am to 8pm and Saturday from 9am to 4pm. Banks are open 8:30/9am to 1/2pm
The majority of the bars and clubs in Heidelberg are concentrated in an area around the Heiliggeistkirche. The university students generally frequent the bars along Unterestrasse, a road that leaves from Markt and runs parallel to Hauptstrasse.
From the start to the end, the road is full of bars, restaurants and pubs ready to satisfy all tastes. During summer the road is literally full of people wishing to spend a pleasant evening.
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