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Summer break Countdown, Day 15

Jul 15, 20151 comment

Today we are exploring my hometown, Heidelberg. Located right on the banks of the Neckar river Heidelberg is one of the oldest cities in Germany. Just walking down the streets of the old town takes you back into  the rich history the city has to offer.

Church of the holy SpiritThe romans where the first to officially mention Heidelberg in documents  and to this day you can still find roman ruins al around the Rhein Neckar valley. One one of the biggest sites is Ladenburg, a mere 20 minutes downriver from Heidelberg.

Heidelberg has many attractions and you may want to plan more then one day discovering them all.

If I wanted to  write about  each and every one of them I would need to start another blog.

But here are the must sees:

First off the castle!

Heidelberg Castle (in German: Heidelberger Schloss) is a famous ruin in Germany and landmark of Heidelberg. The castle ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps.

The castle has only been partially rebuilt since its demolition in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is located 80 meters (260 ft.) up the northern part of the Königstuhl hillside, and thereby dominates the view of the old downtown. It is served by an intermediate station on the Heidelberger Bergbahn funicular railway that runs from Heidelberg’s Kornmarkt to the summit of the Königstuhl.

 

The earliest castle structure was built before AD 1214 and later expanded into 2 castles circa 1294; however, in 1537, a lightning-bolt destroyed the upper castle. The present structures had been expanded by 1650, before damage by later wars and fires. In 1764, another lightning-bolt destroyed some rebuilt sections.

Then ofc the cathedrals:

The Church of the Holy Spirit is the most famous church in Heidelberg, Germany. It stands in the middle of the market place in the old center of Heidelberg not far from the Heidelberg Castle. The steeple of the church, rising above the roofs, dominates the township.

The Church of the Holy Spirit is first mentioned in a manuscript from 1239. In 1398, the foundations of the current late Gothic church were laid on the site of a late Romanesque basilica which, in turn, had been erected in the place of even an older church. Thus the current church is the third sacral building on the site.

In the 14th century, the Church of the Holy Spirit took over as parish church from St. Peter’s Church, which became the university church for the University of Heidelberg.

Originally, the Church of the Holy Spirit contained the tombs of the Palatinate electors but they were destroyed by fire during the War of the Palatinian Succession. Today only the tomb of Prince-Elector Rupert III, the founder of the church, is still preserved.

The exterior of the church.
The building on the right in the background is the famous Hotel zum Ritter

The famous Palatine Library, the Bibliotheca Palatina, was founded and at first kept in the gallery of the Church of the Holy Spirit, where good light for reading was available. During the Thirty Years War from 1618 to 1648, this collection of manuscripts and early printed books was taken as a booty by Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria and presented to the Pope. Of the approximately 5,000 books and 3,524 manuscripts taken, in 1816 a mere 885 were returned. The rest form the Bibliotheca Palatina section of the Vatican Library. For the University Jubilee, many of these books were briefly brought back and displayed in Heidelberg.

church of the Holy Spirit with fountain, surrounded by bookstalls and cafésPowder Tower at Heidelberg Castle

In the course of its history, the Church of the Holy Spirit was used by both Catholics and Protestants, even simultaneously. Starting in 1706, a partition was used so that both congregations could hold their services without any mutual disturbance. In 1720, Karl III Philip, Elector Palatine came into conflict with the town’s Protestants as a result of fully handing over the Church of the Holy Spirit to the Catholics. Prince Karl III Philip gave way,due to pressure for Prussia, Holland, and Sweden and repartitioned the wall. In 1936 the separating wall was removed and the church is now exclusively Protestant.

At the beginning of the 1970s, the steps at the rear of the Church of the Holy Spirit were popular with the Hippies and the Flower Power movement and became a tourist attraction during this time. In 1972 a rock concert by Werner Pieper and the English band Quintessence was organized in the church and attended with great enthusiasm by students and Hippies alike. In conservative church circles this performance was viewed more critically.

Lets not forget the old Bridge:

The old stone bridge was erected 1786–1788. A medieval bridge gate is on the side of the old town, and was originally part of the town wall. Baroque tower helmets were added as part of the erection of the stone bridge in 1788.

Museums and exhibitions

Among the most prominent museums of Heidelberg are for instance the Carl Bosch Museum which shows life and work of chemist and Nobel Prize-winner Carl Bosch. Then there is the Documentation and Culture Centre of German Sinti and Roma (Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sini und Roma) describing the Nazi genocide of the Sinti and Roma peoples. The German Packing Museum (Deutsches Verpackungsmuseum) gives an overview on the history of packing and wrapping goods whereas the German Pharmacy Museum (Deutsches Apothekenmuseum) which is located in the castle illustrates the story of Pharmacy in Germany. The Kurpfälzisches Museum (Palatinate Museum) offers a great art collection and some Roman archeological artifacts from the region. In  honor of Friedrich Ebert one established the President Friedrich Ebert Memorial which remembers the life of Germany’s first democratic head of state. Besides, there are guided tours in most of the historical monuments of Heidelberg, as well as organized tourist tours through the city available in several languages.