The city of Heidelberg was a fascinating place to visit while I was traveling for a month throughout Germany. It is one of the country’s most educated cities, with centuries of history and habitation, as well as being an atmospheric town along the River Neckar. Heidelberg is full of culture, and was designated a “City of Literature” by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, since it has been a hub for literature and the arts throughout the centuries.
This charming Medieval and Baroque city dates back even further to the Roman times, as well as an early man habitation site. The jaw bone of the “Heidelberg man”, who died in nearby Mauer, was discovered in 1907. It is considered the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. His remains date back between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago. Heidelberg was also a refuge, and a place of worship in the 5th century BC housing a Celtic fortress on the “Holy Mountain”. There were also early Roman settlements dating back to 40 AD, and Byzantine settlements from 4th Century AD.
Education, literature, and culture runs through Heidelberg’s veins with the oldest University in Germany, Heidelberg University, which dates back to 1386. There is also a “Philosophers’ Walk” along the northern side of the Neckar, this is where the city’s philosophers and university professors would traditionally walk and talk. Heidelberg is also home to internationally renowned research facilities, which are adjacent to the university, including four Max Planck Institutes and European Molecular Biology Laboratory.
Old town Heidelberg, as with other old towns in Germany, was one of my highlights of visiting this city. I always enjoy strolling through a town with a medieval layout- the narrow waking streets, colorful buildings, a lively market square with a beautiful old church. The old town of Heidelberg was rebuilt in Baroque style but maintains its Medieval city plan, since it was destroyed by the French in the 17th century. It is full of old world charm, friendly people, and maintains a lively city atmosphere.
Heidelberg Schloss (Castle) ruins have a haunting presence when looking upon i. I could not help but stare, and wonder at it whenever I was in view of the Schloss. The old castle remains are one of the most significant Renaissance landmarks north of the Alps; it was built in the Gothic-Renaissance style during the 13th century along the hillside of the Neckar River. Over the centuries the castle had been destroyed by a lightening bolt, fire, as well as war. It was partially reconstructed since its demolition during the 17th and 18th century.
Church of the Holy Spirit located in Marketplatz, within Old Town is Heidelberg’s largest church. It is a beautiful Gothic-Romanesque church, which was built between 1398 and 1515, and dominates the market square. It is a beautiful place to visit while in Heidelberg, and receives 1-3 million guests per year, which makes it among the most visited churches in Germany.
A Neckar River Cruise was another fun activity I had done while visiting Heidelberg. There are a several round-trip panorama cruises, which run about an hour that will take you up and down the Necker River. There are tours that speak English, but strangely enough I hopped a cruise that was only in French and German. My German was not great , and I had no idea what historical information was given. I still had a great time though. The ride was relaxing, and the scenery of Heidelberg was marvelous.
You can book your cruise on line or purchase your ticket at the landing kiosk or on board (cash only) – 🛳 Online cruise ticket information and purchasing.
Chocolate Student Kisses are a lovely and sweet tradition within this university town. I cannot help but love a great food story, and these little red and gold wrapped chocolates have a charming tale behind them. The Student Kisses were created by chocolatier and master confectioner Fridolin Knösel in 1863, who was the proprietor of Café Knösel in old town. They were designed as a sweet gesture from male students to young ladies, who were attending Heidelberg’s finishing school as a discreet token of affection. If the young lady accepted the Student Kiss that meant she accepted his affection, and all was beautiful in their world.
Café Knösel is located in Old Town Heidelberg at Haspelgasse 16 .
Heidelberg is a lovely and interesting city to visit while in Germany. There is much to do and experience, especially if culture and history are an interest of yours. I hope you enjoy your visit to Heidelberg, as much as I did mine.
For Heidelberg tourist information, please visit- Heidelberg, Germany Official Site
I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list…
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property (unless otherwise noted) – Trixie Navarre