… du stadt an ehren reich… (‘… you venerable city …’)- Joseph Victor von Scheffel’s poem is one of the numerous odes to Heidelberg. Many romanticist poets were captured by the city and fell in love with it. I was one of them (Though nowhere nearer to a poet). The city was just magical. I visited Heidelberg in last September while I was on a business trip and then followed by Prague (New article alert..!!!). This is a footsteps guide to the beautiful city of Heidelberg, Germany.
The city is situated on the bank of the river Neckar. The world-famous castle tops the list of attractions in the city, followed by the Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Way), one of Europe’s most beautiful mountainside walking trails. The University of Heidelberg is one of Europe’s oldest and prestigious universities, established in 1386. It is the third university to be constructed in the Holy Roman Empire after Prague and Vienna. The city is located south to Frankfurt (approximately one hour drive).
The Old Bridge or Karl Theodor Bridge
The old bridge or Alte Brücke was constructed in 1788 and offers a scenic view of the castle and the city. The bridge is made completely of sandstone from Neckar valley and supported by eight pillars. The two-round picturesque towers welcome you at the start of the bridge. In the past times, they were toll collection booths for strangers entering the city. The beauty of the bridge and well-known square, which has its unique flair, can be appreciated at leisure whilst enjoying a cup of coffee, a beer or a glass of wine.
Right next to the gate, you can spot a creature that’s not exactly a palatine – a Monkey. Yes, you read that right. There is a sculpture of a monkey near the rounded towers. The artist has kindly supplied an opening for you to stick your head into and take a picture (maybe ;p).
Heidelberg Scholls (The Heidelberg Castle)
The castle is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Heidelberg. The earliest part of the castle was constructed before 1214 and later expanded into two castles. There is an iron ring on the gate which visitors used to gain access to the castle in past times. I was intrigued by its story. The legend has that the castle would belong to anyone who managed to bite the ring through. However, a witch failed to achieve this even with the power of magic. Today, only an impression of her teeth bears witness to her futile efforts.
As soon as you enter the castle courtyard, you are struck by the imposing Friedrichsbau opposite to the entrance. The various buildings reflect the architectural styles of the centuries. To be honest, I was completely lost, I was just thinking about how beautiful the castle would have been if just these ruins are such astonishing today.
The Great Tun (Wine Barrel)
The Great Tun, or Great Heidelberg Tun, or Heidelberg Tun is the biggest barrel in the world that actually held drink. Clemens Pankert, nicknamed Perkeo by the locals, still guards the Great Tun – albeit now only in the form of a wooden figure. Clemens was nicknamed Perkeo because of his usual answer when asked whether he wants to have a glass of wine. As he could only speak Italian when he first arrived, he always used to say “Perche no?” which means “Why not”. To the locals, his answer sounded like “Perkeo”, and that’s what he was called thereafter.
Bismarckplatz in Heidelberg is one of the central transport junctions for trams and buses. It is located exactly in front of the city entrance.
Major intracity and inter-city transport options are available from here and this is the main reason for including this part in the article. You will find two streets just across this spot. One is Hauptstraße and another one which goes parallel to Hauptstraße is Plöck. Hauptstraße is famous for shopping. There are a variety of stores available ranging from clothing to small souvenir shops. The street will guide you to The Church of the Holy Spirit, another place on the list of famous places to visit in Heidelberg. On the other hand, Plöck is comparatively a quiet lane. You will find more residential buildings here. I came across a beautiful food spot on this path. Its name is Bäckerei Göbes. The family that owns this bakery is really adorable. All of their products were really tasty, especially onion cake, I had never heard of this food item in India.
The Old City Center
The old city center is dominated by the Church of the Holy Spirit. The area is lively because of students and tourists. It is a hub of many restaurants and cafes. Heidelberg natives consider the old city center to be divided into two parts, the “upper” end, and the “lower” end. You tend to admire the surrounding architectural beauty while drinking a cup of coffee or a pint of beer. I also came across some departments from Heidelberg University. The square affords unobstructed views of the castle, which looks as if it were close enough to touch.
In the middle of the square, a Catholic icon, the Kornmarkt Madonna, keeps a watchful eye over the many festive occasions that take place throughout the year at the foot of the castle.
To put it in simple words, if you are on Europe trip or just traveling in Germany, you must visit Heidelberg to understand its history, witness the great culture and experience a peaceful lifestyle. The city made a lasting impression on my mind and I think you will also feel the same. I am sure I must have missed on some places to visit, do let me know in the comments section down below.