HANGING OVER ALTSTADT, THE OLD TOWN
Heidelberg Castle is one of the city´s main landmarks. Situated on the hill of the King´s Seat or Königstuhlin German, it offers a spectacular view over the city and its river valley from its eighty metres high. Its construction began in the XIII century and was completed in the XVI century. Its architecture is Renaissance and it is topped with red sandstone from the nearby quarries.Heidelberg was the capital of the Lower Palatinate until 1803 and its castle was home to the Counts and Princes Electors of the Palatinate whose function was to elect the Holy Roman Emperor, to whose title they were also entitled. Between 1573 and 1764, the castle suffered extensive damage caused by two lightning strikes. It also suffered the consequences of the wars of the XVII century: the Thirty Years´ War from 1618 to 1648 and another against the Swedish Empire in 1633. It was undoubtedly the French troops who caused the most damage in 1689.
These misfortunes led to its neglect and present appearance. Despite its ruinous actual state, it also stands dominant and impressive, as well as nostalgic and romantic. From Kornmarkt, the square where the grain market was traditionally held, we start our ascent. Before starting our walk, we should pay attention to the statue of the Virgin Mary, which was installed in 1718 by the Jesuits as a symbol to promote Christianity. It reminds us that the Prince Elector, Karl Theodor, distributed as many Catholic statues as he could to counteract the advance of Lutheranism. We should remember that it was precisely in Germany that the Reformation was born (we will return to this historical era in point 8 below.).
There are two ways to go up: either by following a path that takes you directly to the esplanade where the castle sits proudly, or by taking the funicular railway. The walk up is about 15 minutes and it will be well worth the effort when you reach the top and enjoy the incredible views and the sensation of gliding over the city. If you choose to take the funicular, the cost is nine euros the round trip and includes the entrance fee to the castle, the German Pharmacy Museum (perhaps the most complete in the country with objects dating from the XVII and XVIII centuries) and the wine cellar.
The latter holds the largest barrel in the world with a capacity of 220 000 litres. It was built in 1751 with wood from 130 oak trees and measures eight metres long and seven metres wide.The castle is open every day from 8 am to 5:30 pm, except for the Pharmacy Museum which opens at 10 am. Every summer, starting in mid-June and lasting a whole month, the Castle Festival is held.
This is one of the biggest and most awaited cultural events in the city and has been held since 1926. It consists of a series of plays, music concerts, opera and dance performances staged in the different areas of the theatre.
LET´S PIG OUT!
Have you ever wondered what these Germans eat to be so big? Let´s sit down in one of those taverns with the typical wooden furniture and try some traditional cuisine. German gastronomy has many dishes based on pork, such as its famous roast pork knuckle or ham hock, in German eisbein. It is a succulent dish that will drive the most carnivores crazy. Is the portion of the leg that is neither part of the ham proper nor the ankle or foot, but rather the extreme shank end of the leg bone.
This piece is slowly roasted for hours, turning until the crust gets crispier and crispier and the meat is tender inside.
Frikadellenis a delicious meatball made of minced pork and/or veal. It is usually seasoned mainly with cumin, garlic, salt and mustard and fried in a mixture of egg and milk. The crumbed bread on the outside gives them a toasted finish. On the other hand, there is the famous würstor “sausage”, the food most identified with German cuisine, which comes in 1 500 varieties. It is a sausage made from seasoned minced meat, which can be pork and/or beef, mainly from meat offal. The most popular are:
Bratwurst, the traditional sausage of choice. It is made from pork and beef, stuffed into natural casings and is white and fatty. It is served roasted.
Bockwurstis made of pork, is orange-coloured and elongated, with paprika and white pepper. It is smoked and crunchy to the bite. Usually it is served boiled and is typically eaten with strong senfmustard. Mustard is a sauce or condiment made from the seeds of various Sinapis plants, fermented mainly in water, salt, citrus fruits and vinegar, which is what gives it its strong and spicy taste.
All this is accompanied by sour cabbage sauerkraut, boiled potatoes, kartoffelnand potato salad kartoffelsalatwith pickles in mayonnaise sauce.And to top it all off, for dessert we have an apfelstrudel, which is a mille-feuille filled with baked apples, pine nuts and walnuts. It is even more delicious when served warm and topped with cream. As you can see, it´s all very light! One of the basic products of German gastronomy is undoubtedly the potato, and you will find it written as "kartoffel" on all restaurant menus.
It was King Frederick II of Prussia on his visit to the Pope in the XVIII century who noticed some plants growing in the Vatican garden. His curiosity led him to ask his Holiness about those truffrenor truffles, to which the Pope replied “tartuffoli”, a potato that the Spaniards had given him as a gift from their voyages to the Americas. From that moment on, the Prussian monarch named it Kartoffen. In 1649, it was already being cultivated as a plant in the Lustgarten in Berlin and was known as the Dutch truffle. It was undoubtedly Frederick II who made its cultivation widespread in Germany in the mid XVIII century. It is curious to see potatoes in the gardens of Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, next to his tomb. The people place them there, instead of bringing flowers, as a token of their gratitude.
The Native Andeans of the Atlantic slope, corresponding to today´s Bogotá, were already cultivating this precious tuber when the Spaniards arrived to conquer. But they originated in Peru, where there are 1 500 varieties of potatoes and where three indigenous species are still cultivated.
The potato entered Spain through the port of Seville around 1569 and then spread to the rest of Europe and the world.
DON´T FORGET TO BUY STAINLESS STEEL!
The city of Heidelberg has the largest number of pedestrian streets in Europe. Its main artery, the 2 km long Haupstrasse, runs through the historic centre from east to west. It´s always bustling with shops of all kinds, even open on Sundays. This time what we recommend to buy are articles made of a material that represents one of the main activities of the country: steel. Specifically, we are talking about stainless steel, which is used in the kitchen in the form of: pressure cookers, cookware, coffee machines, cutlery or multi-purpose knives. Who hasn´t heard of brands such as WMF, Krups, Solingen, Zwilling J.A. Henckels or Wüsthof?
Stainless steel is an alloy of steel mixed with other metals such as molybdenum, nickel or chromium. It has a high resistance to corrosion due to its high affinity to oxygen. It forms a protective film with high hygienic and aesthetic properties which makes it a very attractive material for use in all kinds of utensils such as domestic devices, appliances and utensils for the home and automotive or medical industry. Here are some examples: Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik or WMF is a German tableware manufacturer founded in 1853 as a metal repair shop.
Through mergers and acquisitions, by 1900 it was the largest producer and exporter of metal household goods. It is mainly known for its pressure cookers, as there are four of the brand´s models in the top ten on the market. The pressure cooker is a hermetically sealed vessel that allows a boiling temperature of 130 degrees celsius to be reached, which reduces cooking time considerably. Its only problem is that, for safety reasons, it takes longer to open than the time used for cooking, as it has to cool down completely. It is up to you to choose whether to cook on a low heat in the traditional way or in a more sophisticated way using this gadget.
German knivesare of very high quality and elegant finish. Their steel has a high percentage of carbon in its composition, which gives them a long-lasting cutter edges. The Zwilling J.A. Henkels brand has been producing knives since 1731. Krups was founded in 1846 and specialises in small kitchen appliances. In 1961 it started with the production of coffee machines. Its models are featured in films such as “Alien” and “Back to the Future”. From 1990 onwards it presented its most popular product with 40 % of its turnover in Germany and 30 % in the USA: The big bet was the signature with Nestlé for the production of its Nespresso machines.
Haupstrasse, 69117. Heidelberg
The Old Bridge or Alte Brücke, popularly known as the Karl Theodor Bridge, is the first obligatory stop. This is the starting point for the tour of Heidelberg. It is certainly the place where most photos are taken in the whole city. No visitor leaves the city without having passed through this point. From this monumental bridge we can frame the historic centre and the castle in a single shot or take a selfie with the Neckar Valley in the background. From the historic centre, the bridge is accessed via theBrükentor, a monumental gateway built of typical red sandstone in Baroque style.
It is guarded by two 28-metre high medieval towers which are cylindrical. They are white from the top half and alternating red in horizontal stripes from the other half downwards. The towers are topped by conical slate roofs that corresponded to one of the entrances to the fortification. Between the XIII century and the XVIII century, there were several wooden constructions, most of which were washed away by the floods of the Neckar. In 1786 Karl Theodor commissioned its construction in stone. This structure remained standing until it was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.
It was rebuilt in 1947 and the work was financed by contributions from local citizens. It has seven arcades under its 180 metre length. The bridge is decorated with several sculptures, including the sculpture of its promoter, the Elector Karl Theodor, by Konrad Linck, and the one that arouses most interest, the popular Monkey Sculpturefrom 1979 by the sculptor Gernot Rumpf. It replaced an earlier sculpture from the XV century, which was apparently removed by the Prince Elector because he did not like the creature on his bridge. It is believed that whoever touches the ape will be in good health and return to Heidelberg.
Note the inscription of a poem written by Martin Zeiller in 1632 about the monkey.
ONE CAN NEVER KNOW TOO MUCH! / KNOWLEDGE DOES NOT TAKE UP ANY SPACE
Heidelberg has the honour of housing the oldest university in Germany. Founded in 1386 by Count Palatine Rupert I, it is known as Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg. Since 2007 it has been distinguished with the label of Elite University for its outstanding scientific achievements and high-level academic activities. It is a public university and its motto is semper apertus, "always open". On the University Square or Universitätplatzis located the oldest building of the university, which dates back to the XVIII century and houses the rector´s office and the museum, which was opened in 1996.
There you will also find the new building, built in 1934 and partly financed by the Americans. In the vicinity is the university complex, which includes: The Marstall building, the oldest surviving building. It was built by the river in the Middle Ages as an armoury and ended up as a stable. Nowadays it is the university canteen. The University Libraryin Grabengasse, which dates back to 1421, is the oldest in the country. It has 3.2 million books, plus a further 3.5 million in the 83 libraries belonging to the university´s faculties and institutes.
The student jailor studentenkarzerlocated in Augustinergasse, just behind the Old University, is one of Heidelberg´s main curiosities due to the graffiti that students left painted on the walls of the cells and where the original furniture such as the iron beds and wooden tables with all kinds of inscriptions have been preserved. It was in operation between 1823 and 1914, and is where students were locked up for misconduct, minor infractions or for breaking university discipline. Although it could be a blot on the academic record, it ended up becoming a ritual and even a source of pride to pass through it.
It is located on the first floor and opens every day at 10 am. It closes at 4 pm from October to March and at 6 pm from April to September. Admission costs three euros for the general public and 2.5 euros for students and senior citizens. This ticket also includes a visit to the Great Hall of the University and the Museum. The university has 12 faculties, approximately 400 professors, and almost 29 000 students from all over the world. This is why the city enjoys a great young atmosphere and nightlife, as evidenced by the large number of taverns and nightclubs.
As a curious fact, Heidelberg was never hit by any bombs during World War II, and this may be due, among other reasons, to the large number of students from the United States at the university.
Univerzität Heidelberg, Grabengasse 1, 69117 Heidelberg.
CYCLING ON THE BANKS OF THE NECKAR!
A pleasant and peaceful ride helps to clear the mind and relax, especially when it is enhanced by the exuberance and generosity of nature. Cycling along the banks of the Neckar will make you enjoy the river as much as the hundreds of students who cycle along its banks every day. Let´s not forget that Heidelberg is home to the oldest university in Germany!The cycling route along the two banks of the Neckar is about ten kilometres on flat stretches and offers an unbeatable view of the valley with the peaks of Königstuhl at an altitude of 568 metres and Weisser Stein at 548 metres. What would Heidelberg be without the Neckar River?
It gives it its privileged location and fills it with life. Can you imagine Paris without the Seine? The same goes for Heidelberg and its river. The Neckar springs at an altitude of 706 metres in the famous Black Forest in the south-west of the country and, after 367 kilometres flowing northwards, it empties its waters into the no less famous Rhine River. The name "Neckar" is probably derived from the Celtic Nikros, which could mean "wild water". It is navigable almost all the way through a series of 27 locks, the last one was built in 1968. In Heidelberg we can see one of those locks, on the next bridge from the Karl Theodor one.
We will start our tour heading towards the lock, to see it in action is impressive! The dam occupies the entire width of the river, preventing the passage of boats. The level of the river is lower where the boat passes through. At one end of the lock, the boat enters a rectangular-shaped basin, the back and front of the basin are closed with gates so that the basin fills with water until it reaches the upper level, which coincides with the other side of the dam. Once the basin is full, the front gate opens and the boat can continue sailing. The dam is also equipped with turbines for electricity production.
In front of this lock is the Karlstor, a tower built in 1781 from red sandstone, commissioned by the inhabitants of Heidelberg in honour of Prince Karl Theodor. We will cross the dam to the other side and cycle for 15 minutes in the opposite direction to the current, to the right, until we reach the Benedictine Monastery of Neuburg. Founded in the XII century, its modern church built in 1960 is worth a visit. It is home to 12 monks and 42 Secular Oblates who produce organic beer. We will return to Heidelberg along this same bank and, as we get closer, we will be able to see the silhouette of the city from one end to the other. We will continue on to the Theodor Heuss Bridge. Inaugurated in 1992, it was named after the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany.
From here, we will enjoy another beautiful view of Heidelberg. There is also the Neckar Park, a landscaped area popular for outdoor picnics. We will continue on to the next bridge, Ersnt-Walz, who was mayor of Heidelberg between 1913 and 1928 and inaugurated the bridge the same year. This was the third bridge built near Heidelberg in metal structure and, like the other ones in the city, it was blown up by the Nazis on March 29, 1945, when they withdrew from the city before the American troops arrived a day later. The bridge was rebuilt in 1950.
We will cross it on its bike path to return to the city centre. On the way, we will come across the yacht cluband the Congress Palace, a beautiful Art Nouveau building built between 1901 and 1903.
At List & Ride you can rent a bike with a price of 11 euros and choose from 22 different models.
AND ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!
On April 26, 1518 Luther had the first opportunity to retract his statements in his Ninety-five Theses at what is known as the Heidelberg Disputation. This took place in the lecture hall of the former Augustinian orderthat existed on the present-day University Square. It all began when Giovanni di Lorenzo de´ Medici became Pope under the name of Leo X and launched a campaign for indulgences to finance the construction of St. Peter´s Basilica. Thanks to a Papal Bull (which was a papal permit) of 1510, plenary indulgences could be purchased for the complete redemption of all punishments liable to be paid in Purgatory.
On the other hand, Luther stipulated in his Thesis 36 that "every Christian had the right to complete redemption from punishment and sin without the need for indulgence" and, in Thesis 45, he states that "with the Papal Bull one did not buy the indulgence of the Pope but the outrage of God". Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483 in Eisleben, a small town in Saxony surrounded by forests, mines and wolves in the winter months. He was the son of a leaseholder of copper mines who dreamed of a career as a lawyer for his son in order to position him in the high society.
However, some incidents caused him to fear for his life, he nearly bled to death from his sword and was almost struck by a lightning bolt. All this made him entrust himself to St. Anne and enter the Order of St. Augustine as a monk, becoming a sub-prior in time by dint of perseverance and training. As his intellectual curiosity grew, so did his doubts. He believed that confession was a hypocrisy "does one confess out of fear of damnation or out of repentance for one´s sins?" He also noted the debauchery of the monks, and the vows of celibacy and fasting weighed heavily on him. All these critical remarks led him to revolt.
The catalyst came when the local authorities, with the approval of the papacy, began to profit financially from the indulgences and the sale of relics. This outraged Luther and many Christian humanists. At this point his tone changed radically and became more violent with direct attacks on the Holy Father. Luther chose the October 31, 1517, All Saints´ Day, to publish his Ninety-five Theses at the door of the church in Wittenberg, when the church was full of parishioners. The printing press facilitated its publication and the humanists took care of the publicity. We know how the story ends.
It only took one monk, tormented by his well-being, to shake the foundations of Christian Europe. The consequences of the Reformation resulted in multiple churches in conflict with Rome. The Augustinian monastery of Heidelberg was also used throughout its existence as accommodation for other illustrious personalities such as Rupert III of the Palatinate who, one year after being crowned Holy Roman Emperor, in 1400, had to stay in this monastery because the castle was not suitable due to its small size.
Universitätsplatz, 69117 Heidelberg.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF...
Heidelberg has inspired many writers, philosophers and painters. Artists who have found inspiration in this city by the Neckar.But who are all these personalities who have left their mark on Heidelberg and who, in turn, have contributed to the city´s fame? Let´s start with the American author of "Huckleberry Flint" and "Tom Sawyer". Mark Twain, on his second trip to Europe in search of inspiration, arrived in Germany with his family in 1878 and settled in Heidelberg for three months. Here, on the banks of the Neckar, Twain found the inspiration he had lacked for three years.
Twain and his family settled in the Schrider Hotel, now the Crowne Plaza, where he wrote the 19th chapter of "Huckleberry Flint" and began the novel "A Tramp Abroad", a book of travels through central and southern Europe, in which he also professes his love and admiration for the city. Johann Wolfgang von Goethesaid of this city: “Heidelberg hat etwas ideals", "Heidelberg has something ideal". Goethe is to German literature what Shakespeare is to English literature and Cervantes is to Spanish one.
He was a great lover of Heidelberg, he liked to walk in autumn around the castle and to frequent its taverns, which would end up giving him the inspiration to create his most famous character: Faust or Fausten, that individual who sells his soul to the devil.
Other personalities who found inspiration in the streets of this city were Martin Luther, the existentialist philosophers Weberand Jaspers, Hegel, the father of dialectics, the musician Shumann, and the British painter William Turner.
There is something special about Heidelberg, something that makes this fairytale town the setting for impossible love affairs such as the one between Goethe and the actress and dancer Marianne Von Willemer, the muse of his collection "West–Eastern Diwan". It is something that traps you in its taverns and makes you drown your sorrows in absinthe toasts and eternal nights with a bottle of Jägermeister. How about starting our walk from the place where Mark Twain is said to have been regained his inspiration? That place is none other than the river Neckar.
From the Old Bridge orKarl Theodor Bridge, we will enjoy beautiful views of the river and we will be able to take incredible photographs. This bridge, which allows us to cross to the other side of the city, will take us to much less visited places. Before continuing our walk, we can take a fun photo with the famous monkey. On the other side of the Neckar is a beautiful path called PhilosophenwegorPhilosopher´s Walk, located at the foot of the Heiligenberg or “Sacred Mountain”. This path is in a pleasant location with a Mediterranean microclimate and views of the river, the bridge, the old town and the castle. Famous figures such as Twain, Goethe, Hegel and Schumann were inspired by the silence, peace and tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of the city in search of meditation and new ideas.
To get to the promenade, take the cobbled staircase through the vegetation, which you will find after crossing the Charles Theodore Bridge. From this point you will ascend the Heiligenberg and pass several viewpoints until you reach the Philosophers´ Walk. The path is about 4 km long, but it is not necessary to walk the whole route, as you will have a breathtaking view from any of the many lookouts along the walk. From the Philosopher´s Walkyou can understand why Heidelberg has been and will continue to be a haven and inspiration for artists.
Philosophenweg, 69120 Heidelberg.
EIN BIER BITTE!
Karlplatzor Carl´s Squareis our chosen spot for a beer. The square was built at the beginning of the XIX century on the site of a Franciscan monastery right at the foot of the castle. On this quiet square you can enjoy not only the sights of the castle, but also the view of the 1909 Heidelberg Academy of Science, as well as the Boisserée Palace, the seat of the Germanic Seminary of the University. While taking in this peaceful spot, what better idea than to enjoy a beer, the most widely consumed beverage in the country.
Germany consumes around 130 litres of beer per person per year. It is the second largest beer consuming country in Europe after the Czech Republic and the largest beer producer in Europe with 93 million hectolitres.German beer brewing is governed by the 500-year old German Purity Law, which determines the way it is brewed. German beer must contain only water(which is what makes it liquid), hops(which preserves the drink, has anti-bacterial properties and also gives it a bitter taste to balance the sweetness of the grain), malt(which is the roasted and dried grain of wheat or barley) and yeast(which functions as a ferment by transforming sugar into alcohol and also gives body to the foam preserving the flavours of the beer and preventing the liquid from oxidising when it comes into contact with the air).
Hops are known as Germany´s green gold. Germany harvests around 30 000 tons a year and is, together with the USA, its world´s largest producer. Hops resemble vineyards because, like wine vines, they are climbers. They can reach great height, about 6 metres. Next to the square you will find an ancient tavern from 1634 that is still in use today as a restaurant called Zum Seppl. This is a good place to enjoy a beer. But, if you like a stronger brew, take your break at Vetter´s Brauhaus, located at Steingasse 9, just a few minutes away from Karlplatz.
This brewery specialises in producing craft beers. Here you can try the strongest beer in the world! With an alcohol content of 33 %, Vetter 33entered the Guinness World Records for its high alcohol content in 1994. But you can´t leave Germany without trying a Weissbeier. Originally from Bavaria, it is a golden-coloured beer with a thick foam and a slightly fruity taste, packaged in half-litre bottles. It is served in a glass specially made for this beer, which is wider at the top. Five elements are used to make it: Malted barley, water, hops, yeast and, the thing that makes it different from other beers, wheat.
Karlsplatz, 69117 Heidelberg.
Zum Seppl, Hauptstrasse 213. 69117 Heidelberg.
Vetter´s Brauhaus, Steingasse 9. 69117 Heidelberg.
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