Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Heidelberg is a university town with geographical wonders.
Heidelberg is partly situated in the Rhine Rift Valley, mainly on the left bank of the lower part of the river Neckar. Heidelberg, being located in a bottom of a valley, is bordered by the mountain Königsstuhl (568 m) and the mountain Gaisberg (375 m). The river Neckar flows here in an east-west direction. On the right bank of the river the mountain Heiligenberg (445 m) rises.
The castle on the hill is one of it's main attractions. My sister-in-law urged me to take the tram and ride to the top with her and so we did.

The castle is a mix of styles from Gothic to Renaissance. Prince Elector Ruprecht III (1398–1410) erected the first building in the inner courtyard as a royal residence. The building was divided into a ground floor made of stone and framework upper levels. Another royal building is located opposite the Ruprecht Building: the Fountain Hall. Prince Elector Philipp (1476–1508) is said to have arranged the transfer of the hall's columns from a decayed palace of Charlemagne from Ingelheim to Heidelberg.
In the 16th and 17th century, the Prince Electors added two palace buildings and turned the fortress into a castle. The two dominant buildings at the eastern and northern side of the courtyard were erected during the rule of Ottheinrich (1556–1559) and Friedrich IV (1583–1610). Under Friedrich V (1613–1619), the main building of the west side was erected, the so called "English Building".

The castle and its garden were destroyed several times (during the 30 Years' War and the Palatine War of Succession). As Prince Elector Karl Theodor tried to restore the castle, lightning struck in 1764 and ended all attempts at rebuilding. Later on, the castle was misused as a quarry; castle stones were taken to build new houses in Heidelberg. This was stopped in 1800 by Count Charles de Graimberg who then began the preservation of the Heidelberg Castle.

Although the interior is in Gothic style, the King's Hall was not built until 1934. Today, the hall is used for festivities, e.g. dinner banquets, balls and theatre performances. During the Heidelberg Castle Festival in the summer, the courtyard is the site of open air musicals, operas, theatre performances, and classical concerts performed by the Heidelberg Philharmonics.

The castle is surrounded by a park, where the famous poet Johann von Goethe once walked. The Heidelberger Bergbahn funicular railway runs from Heidelberg's Kornmakt to the summit of the Königstuhl via the castle.
We walked up and down the main streets looking at the architecture, the shops, and restaurants.
A favorite shop which specializes in German Christmas decor was Kathe Wohlfahrt.

There are many historical churches in Heidelberg and its environs.

The Church of the Holy Spirit has been shared over the centuries since the Protestant Reformation by both Catholics and Protestants. It is one of the few buildings to survive the many wars during the past centuries. 
My eyes could not get enough of the interesting attractions in this town. My feet wearied much sooner than my eyes and we all went home very tired at the end of the day.

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