Heidelberg 2018-10-24T11:41:09+00:00

HEIDELBERG – THE CELEBRATED TOWN ON THE RIVER NECKAR

PREMIUM RESEARCH AND EDUCATION SINCE 1386

HERE YOU GET AN IMAGINATION OF THE ROMANCE PERIOD

HERE LIVE STILL HAS THE YOUTHFUL TOUCH

THE BKB TRAVEL GUIDE HEIDELBERG

You will find more detailed information in our travel guide “3 Days in Heidelberg“: A schedule for three days, a city map, special tips and the BKB address service. We will show you the highlights, walk with you into nice quarters, have a break and tell nice stories … just as much as you need for three days!

Order the travel book “3 Days in Heidelberg” as paperback or e-book right here in the BKB Shop or in your bookstore!

The travel guide “3 Days in ” is available in german or english language in the BKB Shop or in your bookstore!

The texts and images on our website are to help you get your bearings and plan your trip to Heidelberg. All information has been carefully researched by the 3-Days-in editorial team and continually updated. Nevertheless, it is possible that individual details are incomplete or out of date. We are therefore grateful for every correction or addition to our information. Please send your hints to: info@3-tage-in.de

TIPS FROM THE VISIT-THE-CITY EDITORS FOR YOUR 3-DAY TRIP TO HEIDELBERG

Heidelberg delights visitors from all over the world with its picturesque ruined castle, a historic Old Town and the beautiful surroundings . The ancient bridge and the Print Media Academy, the old university and the modern campus at Neuenheimer Feld, the Church of the Holy Spirit and Skylabs – it is the meeting of many contrasts that keeps this city lively and interesting. An eventful history of more than 800 years has left its mark on the town.

HEIDELBERG DAY 1

The walk through the historic old town takes you through winding streets,  small squares and finally to Germany’s oldest university. There you get an impression of the world of science and research, see the places of academic teaching, old detention cells and the new canteen and begin to understand how a living tradition has been formed during the centuries.

STROLLING THOUGH THE OLD TOWN

The walk through the Old Town begins on the idyllic little square that was laid out in the 16th century on the site of the old hospital as a marketplace for milk and vegetables. It is surrounded by historic buildings such as the Palais Graimberg at the south-east corner and the Palais Prinz Carl on its west side. The much-visited attraction at its centre is the Kornmarkt Madonna, a Baroque statue of the Virgin Mary on a globe that is borne by putti (the original is in the Kurpfälzisches Museum). It was erected on a column in 1718 during the Counter-Reformation and was placed on the fountain at the centre of the square in 1830.

THE KARLSPLATZ – CENTER OF THE CITY

From this broad square, which takes its name from Grand Duke Karl Friedrich of Baden, there is a fine view of the castle. At the centre a modern fountain commemorates the humanist and cosmographer Sebastian Münster, who began his famous work Cosmographia from 1521 to 1529 in the Franciscan monastery which once stood here.

To the south the square is bounded by the Baroque Grand Ducal Palace, now the seat of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. The Palais Boisserée opposite, in which the Boisserée brothers once exhibited their art collection, now held by the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, is home to the Germanisches Institut.

A few paces further on you reach the well-known historic student pubs Zum Seppl (1704) and Zum Roten Ochsen (1724), where generations of student fraternities have held their celebrations.

WHERE PEOPLE MEET – THE MARKTPLATZ

The market-place is the main square of the Old Town. When the sun shines there is a Mediterranean atmosphere here. The numerous pubs and cafés put out their tables and chairs, inviting passers- by to stop for a while. This is a wonderful spot for admiring the historic buildings round about.

The Baroque Rathaus (town hall) stands on the east side, the coat of arms of the prince electors above its large balcony. Take a look at the adjoining building with a turret and glockenspiel, which plays songs such as Old Heidelberg. At the corner of Apothekergasse stands a conspicuous Baroque building with the colourful coat of arms of the prince electors. This was once the court apothecary’s shop, which had the exclusive right to supply medicine to the prince elector’s court. 

One of the finest buildings is the inn opposite the Heiliggeistkirche, the only one to have survived all the wars and fires in Heidelberg. Built in 1592 by the wealthy Huguenot cloth dealer Charles Bélier as a six-storey residence, for over 300 years it has been an inn. The Ritter (knight) who gave the building its name is Saint George, who can be seen up on the gable.

THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

 The Church of the Holy Spirit, a Gothic hall church with a Baroque roof and tower-top, dominates the Marktplatz. Constructed in 1398 as a burial church for the prince electors of the Palatinate, it has had an eventful history. Sometimes Catholic, sometimes Protestant, after the War of the Palatinate Succession it was even a place of worship for both confessions, who held their services in the choir and nave of the church, divided by a wall. This situation, commemorated by a plaque in the right-hand aisle on the steps to the choir, explains why there are exits on both sides. Since 1936 the church has been used by the Lutheran congregation. In good weather do not fail to climb the 200 steps to the top of the tower, for which a wonderful view of the ruined castle and the Neckar valley is the reward.

THE GATEWAY TO THE CITY – ON THE OLD BRIDGE

Walk along Steingasse to the Old Bridge, which was described in enthusiastic terms by Goethe, Hölderlin and many others, and is a favourite place to meet to this day. It is named after Elector Karl Theodor, who built a stone bridge consisting of barrel vaults of red sandstone in 1786–88 to replace its wooden predecessor.

The fact that the bridge was once fortied is shown on the town side by the surviving gateway flanked by twin towers, where the warden of the bridge once lived. To express their thanks for this first stone bridge, the people of Heidelberg erected a monument to their ruler, showing the prince elector surrounded by the gods of the main rivers of the Palatinate. On the Neuenheim side of the bridge a statue of Pallas Athene, with four allegorical figures at her feet symbolising justice, piety, agriculture and trade, is a reference to the elector’s government of his land, as are the representations of the arts and sciences in the reliefs of the base with cherubs.

HAVE A REST – THE JESUITENKIRCHE

The Catholic counterpart to the Church of the Holy Spirit is the aisled hall church in the former Jesuit quarter of the Old Town. Construction started in the early 18th century and lasted about 150 years. It was intended that the Jesuits, who came to Heidelberg in 1622 during the Thirty Years’ War and worked in the university or as school teachers and in parochial care, would promote the Counter-Reformation by supporting the Catholic prince electors.

To take some time out, go through the left-hand side entrance to the Meditation Garden of the Jesuit Church Here, away from the bustle of the pedestrian zone, you can watch bees collecting nectar or simply admire the numerous plants and flowers.  

„SEMPER APERTUS”: MORE THAN 600 YEARS HEIDELBERG UNIVERSITY STANDS FOR PREMIUM QUALITY

In Germany’s oldest university you can immerse yourself in the world of science and research. Its motto “Semper apertus” (meaning that the book of knowledge should always be open) is to be seen in big letters in the foyer.

Don’t miss the room in which lectures and disputations were held. Newly fitted out in 1886 for the 500th anniversary of the university in Italian Renaissance style with magnificent wood panelling and paintings, the Aula is an impressive original location of university life.

The end wall was designed as a triumphal arch with a bust of Grand Duke Friedrich of Baden, ruler of the Palatinate at that time and also rector of the university, at its centre. The name plates on the seats are a reference to the great numbers of renowned researchers and professors who worked here.

IF THE STUDENTS OF OLD WERE NOT IN LINE

For another sight that makes a strong impression, go to the rear side of the Alte Universität to see the cells (Karzer) in which students were imprisoned between 1778 and 1914. As the university exercised its own judicial rights at that time, it could place students under arrest for up to four weeks for minor offences such as fencing too violently, disturbing the peace at night and unruly behaviour. While serving the sentence, the students were obliged to attend lectures, but spent the rest of the time in the Karzer. This was a severe punishment in the early decades, as the prisoners were given only bread and water and slept on straw on the cold floor.

From about 1900 the rules were relaxed and visitors permitted. The students then used the Karzer as a meeting place for making merry and playing cards. It gradually became fashionable for them to spend a few days in the prison at least once during their time as a student. The fates of those who were incarcerated here can be seen in thousands of graffiti that cover all the walls. 

WHERE THE BOOKS ARE AT HOME

Walk past the Neue Universität, built in 1930–31 integrating the Witches’ Tower of the medieval city wall, to reach what must be the university’s finest building. Constructed with four wings in 1905 with numerous oriels, turrets, gables and sculptures, the Universitätsbibliothek (University Library) combines elements of German Mannerism of the late 16th century with Art Nouveau motifs. Two figures on the main entrance – on the left Prometheus, on the right a female figure with a child symbolising the passing on of knowledge from generation to generation – frame the way to the interior, where busts of famous scholars can be seen in the staircase. Glance inside the lovely green courtyard, an idyllic spot for a rest.

HEIDELBERG AT NIGHT

Heidelberg’s nightlife has a lot to offer. Whether you want culture or dancing, a student pub or a cool bar, this university town has the right locations for everyone. With its five departments – opera, concerts, drama, dance and youth theatre – the Theater und Orchester Heidelberg alone offers a wide choice. Small private theatres such as the Theater-Theater and the Zimmertheater are also firmly established on the cultural scene. Concerts given by the Collegium Musicum and the Sinfonieorchester TonArt enrich the musical programme, and jazz fans are catered for down in the vaults of the Jazzhaus. If you would rather go dancing, then head for the Old Town, where  is a concentration of little cocktail bars, pleasant cafés and pubs in a small area, and the atmosphere on warm summer nights is reminiscent of southern Europe.

HEIDELBERG DAY 2

On the second day the Heidelberg Castle is on the schedule. First, you pay a visit to remarkable landmark of the city, after that you walk across the Philosopher’s Path on the opposite side and enjoy the outstanding view of the castle.

ON YOUR WAY TO THE CASTLE

The ascent of the Königstuhl takes you to one of Europe’s best-known ruined castles, the centre of power and prestige of the prince electors for five centuries and, thanks to the enthusiasm of 19th-century Romantics, the emblem of Heidelberg. When Elector Ruprecht III (reigned 1398–1410) extended an early 13th-century castle to make it his seat of power, he laid the foundation for a splendid palace.

Continually enlarged by his successors, over the centuries it became an architectural ensemble with some of the finest Renaissance buildings in Germany, Its history did not end until the War of the Palatinate Succession, when French troops destroyed the castle after capturing the town, and Prince Elector Karl Philipp moved his residence to Mannheim in 1720. If a French aristocrat, Count Charles de Graimberg had not campaigned for the preservation of the castle ruins and made views of them known all over the world through prints, only a few stones would remain today.

After all the easiest way to go up to the castle is to take the funicular railway.

HEIDELBERG CASTLE – RESIDENCE OF THE STEWARD

The oldest residential building in the castle, the Ruprechtsbau, built for Elector Ruprecht III (reigned 1398–1410), is on the left in the courtyard. Next to it is the late-Gothic Bibliotheksbau (library) with its fine oriel on the upper floor, built in the reign of Elector Ludwig V (1508–1544).

The adjacent Frauenzimmerbau, of which only the ground floor remains, probably accommodated ladies of court on its upper floors, while the great royal hall beneath was used for daily meals and festivities Today it is used as a hall for events.

On the north side of the courtyard stands the magnificent Friedrichsbau. The elector who built it, Friedrich IV (reigned 1583–1610), adorned its façade with his ancestors from the House of Wittelsbach – from Charlemagne to Ludwig of Ba- varia – in order to legitimise his rule.

TIME OF ROMANCE – GET AN IMPRESSION

To the right of the Friedrichsbau a passage leads to the Altan, a terrace with a view of the valley. From here you have a superb panorama of Heidelberg’s Old Town, the river Neckar and its valley down towards the plain of the Rhine. Don’t fail to put your foot in the Rittersprung (knight’s leap)! This foot-shaped depression in the stone is said to be the print of a young nobleman who was caught in flagrante with the young wife of an elector and made his escape by jumping from a window. It is said that anyone whose foot fits into the hole will have a happy life.

ON THE PHILOSOPHERS WALK

The walk called Philosophenweg crosses the Neckar and follows one of Germany’s most beautiful paths, commanding a magnificent panoramic view of the castle and the Old Town of Heidelberg.

In 1841, when this path through the vineyards was widened, no-one could have imagined that it would become one of Germany’s most famous walks. It gained its name in the Romantic period, when young philosophers, as students were then called because they had to study philosophy for several terms before the beginning of their specialised courses, used to meet here for a romantic stroll or an undisturbed tête-à-tête.

Poets and thinkers such as Hölderlin, Eichendorff, Scheffel and many others came here to relax, and walked through the vineyards to give free rein to their thoughts.

SHOPPING IN THE AFTERNOON

The area that attracts most shoppers is the Old Town with its streets and alleys between Bismarckplatz and Kornmarkt. Heidelberg’s number- one shopping street is the Hauptstrasse (Main Street), which is described as one of Europe’s loveliest pedestrian zones thanks to its location at the heart of the Old Town. If you prefer something more individual, walk through the side alleys and Plöck, which is parallel to the Hauptstrasse, or Untere Strasse. Here lots of little shops run by the owners sell unusual clothing, nice ideas for gifts and products from all around the world.

If you walk across the Neckar bridge from Bismarckplatz, in good weather you will not only see the sunbathers on the grass by the riverbank but also reach the attractive district of Neuenheim. Here, around Brückenstrasse, many small shops with individual service cover all aspects of daily life, selling fashion, jewellery, flowers, household items, toys, books, sportswear and sports kit, and much more (hier fehlt noch was). 

HEIDELBERG DAY 3

On the third day you should take the public bus to the village of Schwetzingen where you find a wonderful baroque castle that has been the summer residence of the elector.  You walk through a magnificent garden, which represents a cultural monument of European rank. Back in Heidelberg we suggest a visit though the electoral museum where you can make a tour of prehistory and early history up to the 20th century.

PAY A VISIT TO THE ELECTOR’S GARDEN

A visit to this Baroque palace ensemble takes you to a magnificent garden, a cultural heritage site of European significance. Before you stroll through the palace garden, take time to visit the former state rooms and living apartments of the prince electors, which are furnished with authentic 18th-century items. The palace gardens, among the most beautiful in Germany, are a masterpiece of late Baroque garden design. The front section was designed by the architect Nicolas de Pigage in the style of a French Baroque garden, while Friedrich Ludwig Sckell, who created the rear section, took his inspiration from English landscape parks. The existence side by side of two completely different styles makes a walk through the gardens particularly enjoyable.

CENTURIES OF HISTORY – KURPFÄLZISCHES MUSEUM

A visit to the old Palais Morass immerses you deeply in the history of what used to be the Electoral Palatinate. You can make the acquaintance of the prince electors and their wives and admire the magnificence of their court life.

Exciting discoveries await on a circuit of the museum, even though visitors may sometimes think they have lost their bearings as they follow a complicated path through the build- ing and its wings.

Surprising artistic highlights keep appearing, from Tilman Riemenschneider’s Altar of the Apostles dating from 1509, a tondo by Lucas Cranach the Elder depicting Adam and Eve at the Fall of Man (1525) and a Madonna and Child by Rogier van der Weyden (painted on wood, c 1455) to an opulently laid dinner table with a 72-piece silver service fromStrasbourg that belonged to Elisabeth Augusta (1721–94), the last electoral princess. 

TO GO TO HEIDELBERG BY RAIL OR PLANE

If you travel by car you can take the Freeway  A 5 /A 656. To go to Heidelberg by plane:  City Airport Mannheim is about 15 kilometres off and you can take the Tram line 5 to the city.  Frankfurt Airport is about 80 kilometres off  and there is a TLS Shuttle Service avaliable.  About 90 kilometers in the south you find the airport Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden where you can take the Baden-Airpark-Express-Shuttlebus to Heidelberg Main Station.
Find your plane to Heidelberg right here:

Heidelberg is well connected to the German railway system ICE- and IC-/EC.
Find your train connections right here:

A clever way to travel not only for young people ist the long-distance coach (Fernreisebus):

Credits: All pictures BKB Verlag except head: Heidelberg Marketing GmbH/Foto: Jan Becker; Airbus 300: fotolia.com/#111405632 | Urheber: gabrielpetrescu; Heidelberg night: Jazzhaus Heidelberg; head Day 2 : Heidelberg Marketing GmbH/Foto: Tobias Schwerdt.c