Heidelberg, a beautiful historical city and a short drive from Frankfurt, captivates with its simplicity and elegance. Here, less is more. It is a town that satisfies the history buff and the adventure seeker, not to mention the literary hound. Not surprising that Mark Twain, immortalised the town in his book The Tramp Abroad.
This university town, surrounded by green forests, buzzes with tourists and yet, there is a sense of philosophical realism here as though something else exists independently of thousands of observers, living in an altogether different era and space. Heidelberg was spared the Allied bombings in the Second World War, which helped the city preserve its rich history.
The story of the city can be found in the museums here. The Heidelberg University, founded nearly 630 years ago is the oldest one in Germany and the fifth oldest in Europe.
The city is dominated by its most famous landmark, the half-ruined hilltop castle – drawing over 12 million people annually and is among the most important Renaissance structures in Europe. Built in the 12th century, the Heidelberger Schloss, is a collection of different buildings representing different phases of German architecture. Time your visit with the Heidelberg Castle Illuminations (a spectacular show of lights and fireworks), which are held thrice every summer.
While you are here
The Church of Holy Spirit at Marktplatz is the city’s most famous holy centre. Its history can be traced back to the 12th century. The church has been renovated over the centuries in different styles and once held the world famous Bibliotheca Palatina, founded by Ludwig III, in the library section.
The Love Locks of Heidelberg might be your way to seal a relationship with this place. No visitor leaves without affixing a padlock to the Love Rock installed by the Alte Brücke, an old bridge dating back to 1786 on the Neckar river. If you are not inclined to be romantic about locks, just walking over the old bridge is a delightful experience – more so when you have one of the world’s tastiest gelatos in hand!
Cruise the Neckar river that snakes around the city and take in some breath-taking views or walk along the The Philosophenweg, considered the literary Holy Grail, was the favourite thinking spot of Mark Twain. You can also ride the 125-year-old funicular railway (Heidelberg Bergbahn) right up to Konigstuhl or the Kings seat. Watch a bird show or stop for refreshments here.
Apart from the Neckar river, the castle and beautiful hills around, there are icons of love and remembrance here, like the ‘stolperstein’ or small cobblestone-sized memorials on the streets, remembering the lives of victims of the Holocaust.