Heidelberg, located by River Neckar in South-west of Germany, is a small but an attractive university town surrounded by the mountains. You might have heard of the city due to its historical Druckmaschine - printing press. However, Heidelberg is more than that and is waiting to be discovered!
Few Points about the City
Heidelberg, with its around 150.000 population has a long history which goes back to the 5th century. It was a former residence of Electorate of the Palatinate whose rulers were among the electors of Holy Roman Emperor. So, you can understand that thecity has had some prestige since then.
Besides, it is one of the few cities in Germany that managed to protect its Altstadt – old town - after WWII. We should thank Americans for the protection as they entered the town in 1945 to use the city as a garrison and saved Heidelberg froma possible destruction.
Among this preservation, it can be said that University of Heidelberg is the most famous symbol of the city. The first thing which you realize at your first arrival in Heidelberg is the large number of students from all around the world. They are theones that will make you feel the youth in this old city. Founded in 1386, University of Heidelberg is the proof of the city’s long history and the reason behind its label - the University Town. With its 30.000 student population,it is Germany’s oldest university. Being 5th largest city of Baden-Württemberg, Heidelberg consists of other sights which you will have in your mind other than the university. So, remember its potential and let the journey begin!
Go Out and Discover It!
Heidelberg is so small that you can explore it even in one day – unless you start late. The best thing about the city that almost all the sights you should see are located in Altstadt or it is easy to reach them from there.
Our journey starts from Bismarckplatz – the main square of the town. As you can assume, like every city in the world, this main square offers you the ways to get easily to every corner of the city. The square takes its name from Otto Von Bismarck who was the first chancellor of German Empire. Apart from its historic feature, Bismarckplatz is the point that leads you to the city’s precious – Altstadt!
Altstadt can be called as the heart of the city where you might find yourself - even unintentionally - when you need to do something. It is the part of the town where you enjoy both the history including churchs, old bridge and the castle andalso the nature – the green mountains and Neckar.
To explore all these beauty, you need to walk through a long pedestrian street called Hauptstrasse – the main street. It will immediately amaze you with its 1.6 length and the historic sights around it. While you walk through Europe’s longest pedestrian street, you will be attracted by several churchs, narrow streetsand ancient buildings which are well-preserved and will make you feel the history.
Along Hauptstrasse, you will also encounter a few squares such as Universitätplatz which might draw your attention with the university buildings and the university library dating back to the 1300s. If you go a little further, you will find yourself in front of a magnificent gothic style church in the middle of Marktplatz where you can sit at one of the cafes placed there. Heiliggeistkirche – Protestant church of the Holy spirit – is so huge that you can find your way by looking at its steeple in case you get lost (which is almost impossible).
The More You Walk, the More You Explore..
There it is! The Heidelberg Castle lying on the mountain is on your right side. You have two ways to get there. Either walking up to the hill for about 15 minutesor using Bergbahn funicular from Kornmarkt (the next square after Marktplatz). Once you arrive at the castle – built in 1214 – you will be welcomed by its big green garden where you can get some rest after the tiring walk. Later, you can go inside the castle by passing the ruins and see the Palace of the Kings. The best option to finish the visit here is to enjoy the splendid view of Altstadt, Old Bridge and Neckar from the castle.
Next, you can go down by choosing again either walking or Bergbahn and continue to explore Altstadt. When you return to Marktplatz, you will see a mysterious and an attractive building on your left side, - just opposite Heiliggeistkirche - Hotel Zum Ritter will draw your attention with its renaissance style. If you walk straight ahead from the building, the first left street is Unterestrasse which is known for its pubs among students. However, the first right street is the way that will lead youto the famous Old Bridge. After turning right, turn to the left and here is Old Bridge! (Alte Brücke in German)
Best Binary: Vetter & Old Bridge
Before heading to the bridge, there is one thing that you should definitely do in Germany: Tasting the German beer! While you are in the street that leads you to the bridge, just have a look at your right side and enter Vetter. It is a beerhouse where you can taste theirspecial beers – made in house - and enjoy the atmosphere. When you go inside, you will realize right away the big barrel in the middle of the pub which makes Vetter exclusive. Also, you can see the varied paintings on the wall and hear – onlysometimes - the people’s cheering and singing which offer you to experience the typical German pub. If you do not have time for sitting inside, no worries! You can buy Vetter’s 1lt beer to go for 3 euros and enjoy it while you walk through the Old Bridge near you.
The Old stone Bridge – can be called Karl Theodor Brücke as well – built in the 18th century, will impress you with its gate and the sculptures on both sides and also with the view of River Neckar (especially during sunset). If you keep walkingto the other side of the bridge, you will see the green area with benches by the river. So, just grab your beer from Vetter and sit there! Now, you can enjoy the view of Altstadt, Old Bridge, Neckar, Heidelberg Castle and thegreen mountains at the same time. What would you expect more?!
Northern Part of the City!
Now that you are at the other – the north - side of the bridge, you are in Neuenheim – new town. Though it is called New Town, do not expect to see high buildings or new constructs. There is still nature around you. So, get ready to have the same splendidview from Neuenheim, but this time from the up. To experience this, go across the street from the end of the bridge that you have just walked along and enter the narrow circular street which will guide you up, to Philosophenweg – Philosopher’s path.As you may understand, the path takes its name from the walk of Philosophers. While walking along this long path in the middle of impressive nature, you might encounter many people who jog through the mountain.
Once you finish the path, you can put an end to your journey by lying on the grass in Neckarwiese. It is a large green area by the river Neckar between two other bridges across Bismarckplatz. (where we started our journey) So, can you find a betterplace to get some rest after a long trip?
An Alternative to Be Overdosed by Nature!
If you think that you are not satisfied with the nature, here is Königstuhl. It is the top of the mountain called Odenwald where you can go either from Bismarckplatz by bus or from Kornmarkt by Bergbahn. It is highly feasablethat you see many mountain bikers or people who try to get benefit of the nature.
Basically, the best thing that you can do is to take a look at Heidelberg from the top of the mountain and to feel lucky that you have visited the city.
Best Times to Visit...
The best times to visit Heidelberg would be either Christmas or between April and September. If you would like to see shiny Heidelberg, then you should come during Christmas and explore the Christmas Markets in many squares and in the castle. Also,drinking Glühwein – mulled wine – would be the bonus!
However, if you want to see the green mountains and enjoy the nature as much as possible, you had better come between April and September when you can also watch Schlossbeleuchtung – the firework and the light show through the castle and the bridge that happen three times in a year!
All in all, why do you care about a specific time to visit the city? Just come to Heidelberg and über-enjoy!