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Our Choice of Hotels
+49 62 21 536 80
+49 62 21 65 4080
+49 62 21 13 8080
Our Choice of Restaurant
Fahrtgasse 1, Heidelberg
+49 6221 165 033
His passion for travel has seen him travel extensively, and he has over 30 years experience in the media, including 15 years as a presenter and producer with the BBC.
Try the extremely handy ‘Heidelberg Card’, which gets you free travel on trams, buses and the funicular railway, free admission to the castle and a wide range of museums, reduced prices for all city tours and many exclusive discounts.
There are Tourist Information Offices at the main railway station, and in the Marktplatz. Alternatively check out the website at:
Eat, drink, and be merry… and have the added bonus of a beautiful town, centuries of history, all set in a glorious location. That pretty much sums up one of Germany’s most popular cities, and one of the most visited.
Heidelberg is known to be amongst the oldest settlements in Europe, a fact supported by the discovery of a human jawbone that is around 500,000 years old. It was an important Roman base, and for 500 years stood as the Palantine capital. Only when the French decided that they quite fancied this region for themselves, in the late 1600’s, was the Heidelberg’s dominance (along with the castle and much of the town) destroyed.
In many ways, though, that was the real creation of its charm. It has a kind of feel that it’s a city which has got up, dusted itself off, and is now getting on with its slightly less grand life. The castle ruins still look threatening as they look down on the town, the old bridge still stands grandly as the main crossing point of the River Neckar, and the domed tower of the Heiliggeistkirche still dominates the towns skyline as it has done for over 600 years.
But the impressions today are not of Barons and their ladies taking the airs, nor the Electors in the finery promenading along the river. More it’s the hoards of tourists that spill off the endless lines of coaches, and the crowds of students who noisily occupy the most popular café’s and bars. Don’t misunderstand, though, this isn’t a bad thing. On the contrary, is this hustle and bustle that gives the city is vibrancy, its energy, and makes you want to do more than explore… it makes you want to be part of it.
The castle can be reached by a relatively inexpensive, and quite pleasant, ride on the funicular railway from the Kornmarkt. But it’s more interesting to walk, as you get a far better impression of the sheer scale of the fortifications if you approach them slowly on foot. The French actually did a wonderful job, in destroying just enough to allow the visitor to get a feel for the battle, but leaving plenty to get a feel of how it would have looked. Sections such as the Powder Tower suffered such neat damage as to give the impression a wall has been cut away just for the tourist to examine the architecture behind! At the western end there are great views across the town from Frederich V’s pleasure gardens, but also make sure you seek out the Fassbau. This is reached by a passageway by the Schlosshof, and contains the Great Vat – a fifty thousand gallon wine barrel that is said to be the largest in the world.
Back down in the town many of the original historic buildings fell foul of the French destruction, making way for the grand 18th century town houses that are so representative
of the Romantic period. The most visually appealing areas are around the marketplace, where you can (for a small fee) climb to the top of the Heiliggeistkirche tower. From here there are panoramic views over the rooftops and the river.
Try and visit in the summer months when there are wonderful festivals with music, which use the castle as a backdrop for their spectacular firework displays. It’s important to remember – whenever you go to Heidelberg -
Hotels with the best locations are naturally the most sought after. Those like the Goldener Hecht, next to the Alte Brucke, or the Molkenkur, which overlooks the whole valley from its position at the top of the hill above the castle, are worth the forward planning to get in. But our recommendation is a small inn hidden away in the Haspelgasse. The Schnookeloch has recently celebrated its 600th anniversary, and absolutely everywhere you look the students have carved graffiti into the woodwork. You can spend your entire holiday just reading the walls!
Heidelberg is a town where one of the greatest pleasures is just to wander. The tree-
Sitting here, watching the barges and river cruisers glide by, with the hum of the busy city in the background, and the steep valley sides of the north bank rising up to the dark forests on the top… its easy to understand why so many fall in love with romantic Heidelberg.