What Travel Writers Say

Heidelberg: a city of culture and heritage

© By Adam Southwood
  Old Town Dominated by a magnificent castle, Heidelberg, home town of Queen Silvia of Sweden, is one of the most visited towns in all of Germany. Here, the first German university was founded as early as 1386, and Heidelberg still is associated with student life, picturesque side streets, quiet pubs, antique shops tucked away in back streets, small galleries and, of course, the aforementioned Castle. Crooked alleyways, renaissance and baroque façades and cozy squares shape the appearance of the Old Quarter, and the best way to see it is to directly walk around the Old Quarter, take a trip on the Neckar River or explore by bike. Over 140,000 people live here within 109 square kilometres (42 sq mi).
     With its wealth of university lecture halls and the superb Art Nouveau-style Congress House, Heidelberg is a popular venue for international congresses and symposia. Thus, Heidelberg remains forward-looking and cutting-edge despite its romantic setting.
     Tourists afflicted by culture cravings will be quite satisfied here with more than 15 museums, many privately-owned galleries, five theatres, concerts by the town's Philharmonic Orchestra or the Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra, jazz in "Cave 54" or dance performances by the Unterwegs Theatre Company. With one in five inhabitants, students, Heidelberg reflects youthful zest and to flavour the youth scene in Heidelberg, visit one of the student bars scattered all over town, international meeting-points like the Institut Français or the German-American Institute, the socio-cultural "Karlstorbahnhof" Centre, the "Zwinger 3" youth theatre, a concert at the "Swimming Pool Music Club" or clubs like "Night Shift." Restaurants range from hearty regional Kurpfalz cuisine served in a historic student pub to Malaysian and Persian eateries.

Old University  Print Media Academy  Castle  Castle Festival  Castle  Castle 

     Besides the main street, there is opportunity for shopping in the small side streets of the Altstadt, with countless antique shops, in Untere Straße, around the Church of the Holy Spirit (Heiliggeistkirche) or in the Plöck. You can discover designer boutiques in the Friedrich-Ebert Centre or on Sophienstraße. Neuenheim and Handschuhsheim are also treasure troves for those looking for something unique.

Castle  Castle  Convention Centre  Convention Centre  Convention Centre  Hotel Ritter 

     Attractions outside the Old Quarter feature: Handschuhsheim with its 13th century Tiefburg Castle, Ziegelhausen and its Neuburg Foundation Benedictine Monastery, the mountain cemetery between Weststadt and Südstadt and trips out in the attractive neighbouring countryside for example to Speyer or Schwetzingen, following the mountain road or taking the scenic castle and designated German Vineyards routes, to the Oden Forest or along the Neckar Valley.

Karlstor  Kornmarkt  Main Street  Market  Neckar Valley  Night Scene 

     Dating from approximately 1,000,000 years ago, the "Heidelberg Man," was discovered in 1907, earliest evidence of human life in Europe. Modern Heidelberg traces its beginnings to the 5th century when the village Bergheim (Mountain Home) is first mentioned in documents dated to 769 AD. Bergheim now lies in the middle of modern Heidelberg. The University played a leading part in the era of humanism and reformation and the conflict between Lutheranism and Calvinism in the 15th and 16th centuries. Heidelberg's library, founded in 1421, is the oldest public library in Germany still intact. A few months after the proclamation of his 95 theses, in April, 1518, Martin Luther was received in Heidelberg, to defend them.
     As Heidelberg was neither an industrial center nor a transport hub, there was nothing worth bombing during WWII, and Allied air raids focused extensively on the nearby industrial cities of Mannheim and Ludwigshafen. On December 9, 1945, US Army General George S. Patton was in a car accident in adjacent Mannheim and he died in the Heidelberg US Army hospital on December 21, 1945. The funeral ceremony was held at the Heidelberg-Weststadt Christ Church (Christuskirche), and he was later buried at the 3rd Army cemetery in Luxembourg.
     Heidelberg was home to yet another famous person, the poet, Goethe, who liked to walk around the castle through the park that surrounds it.

Adam Southwood writes for Canadian, U.S. and European magazines and newspapers. He is a graduate of both McMaster University in Hamilton and UWO in London with an interest in culture and history. He has produced several educational programs for TV.

Photo Credits
Baden-Wurttemberg Tourism

If you go
Heidelberg, Germany
as seen on
Baden-Wurttemberg Tourism: http://www.baden-baden.de/en/tourism/
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidelberg,_Germany
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Heidelberg

What's happening, money, distance, time?
Media Guide: http://www.abyznewslinks.com/
Currency conversion: http://www.xe.com/ucc/
Distance calculator: http://www.indo.com/distance/
Time zone converter: http://www.timezoneconverter.com/

Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/


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