Heidelberg Things to Do Tips by JessH Top 5 Page for this destination
Heidelberg Things to Do: 452 reviews and 810 photos
Making a fool of myself with Perkeo -EuroMeet 2008
The perception of size is cleverly manipulated in the castle's wine cellar: you descend the stairs and voila! You see a large wine barrel to your right. "Surely, this must be it?" you ask. No, THIS was just the little one that "only" holds 45,000 lites.
DAS GROSSE FASS (Vat / Tun):
This beauty can hold 221,726 litres (approx. 55,000 gallons) of wine.
Historically this and all other of these barrels were used to collect the tithe (tax) wine from wine growers in the Kurpfalz area. This means that their contents were mostly a mixture of many wines (ouch! I feel a headache coming on...!)
NOTE: the walls of the wine cellar are covered in signatures & messages. It's an unspoken tradition for German and foreign visitors alike to eternalize your visit when tasting wines here.
Heidelberg Castle has a history of enormous barrels:
1. Johann-Casimir-Fass (1591)
2. Karl-Ludwig-Fass (1664)
3. Karl-Philipp-Fass (1728)
4. Karl-Theodor-Fass (1751)
Whilst here, read the story of Perkeo, the ancient alcoholic dwarf who apparently only drank wine, and died after drinking pure water (well, depending on the hygiene of the water in those days, it doesn't surprise me!) and pull the string in the little box on the wall ;-) You can climb the stairs to the top of the barrel, where a dance floor was installed for grand functions in the wine cellar. Take part in some wine tasting, and of course buy as many bottles as you can carry and afford! Speaking of "grand functions": the wine cellar is a popular location for weddings!
"From the Grape to the Hangover:"
Heidelberg lies in the south-western state of Baden Wuerttemberg, right in the centre of Germany's largest wine-growing areas. The shores of the Neckar River are especially fertile & give the wines of our region a distinct flavour & character (I recommend the whites and rose wines...not so much the reds): An analysis of the soil shows that it predominantly consists of loess (a fine & grainy composition of clay and silt). Certain local wines regularly receive national awards.
"There are more old wine drinkers than old doctors." - German Proverb.
"Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep, and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved." - Medieval German Saying.
--> Waalewiener's video of VTers in the wine cellar of Heidelberg Castle, June 2008.
Address: Heidelberg Castle. old Town.
Directions: Heidelberg wine tasting sessions:
Tel: +49-(0)6221-14 22-23/-24/-25.
Enjoying my Neckar cruise (August 2010)
The Neckar River runs from the Black Forest to Mannheim before emptying into the Rhine. This 367 km (228 miles) long river mainly flows through the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, but also a short section through Hessen. The name Neckar was derived from Celtic Nikros, meaning "wild water" or "wild fellow". Along its course are ancient cities with colorful histories and amazing lush green forests and vineyards.
There are various operators offering cruises; in August 2010 we did a 9-hour cruise with the Rhein-Neckar Fahrgastschifffahrt (phew! Yes, I know these long German words can be scary... haha!)
We had a great day on the Neckar River, travelling all the way over to the historic town of Eberbach where (with our specific tour) you have 2.5 hours time to explore the town and have lunch, before the ship heads the approx. 30km back to Heidelberg.
On board there was a comfortable seating area with tables inside, or a theatre-style seating/benches up above, where during clear weather you can really appreciate the beauty along the shore, and the amazing technology behind the river's locks system (many of which you will travel up and down upon during your cruise!).
On board a small kitchen offers coffee, soft drinks, ice cream and small snacks such as cakes or potato chips/crisps.
For many years now the Neckar has been tamed with dams and locks, making it safer for the towns and villages along its shores. Although there are still occasional floods in the Neckar Valley (you can see marks on the walls of some building showing how high the water can get), they are pretty rare nowadays.
Their 2011 cruising brochure / time table can be found on their website: http://www.rnf-schifffahrt.de/Site/Fahrplaene/FahrplanStart.aspx
Address: Untere Neckarstraße 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Directions: Docking stations:
Easter until October: "Stadthalle" daily 08:30am-17:30pm.
October until Easter: Untere Neckarstraße 17.
Other Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org/
The old bridge in Heidelberg, Germany
All great romantic cities have a river: Prague has the Vltava, Paris has the Seine, Florence the Arno, and Heidelberg the Neckar river.
"Die Alte Bruecke" (=the old bridge) is named after Kurfuerst (Prince Elector) Carl Theodor and apparently is Germany's 2nd oldest bridge.
The stone structure itself is not actually ancient (built in 1788, destroyed in WWII, rebuilt in 1947) but has been preceeded by ancient wooden structures, the first one dating back to the year 1284! Of course, these wooden bridges weren't very sturdy and didn't survive floods, ice and rot over the years.
The bridge has nine (9) red sandstone arches, blending-in perfectly with the same building material used throughout the old town. On these arches you can see the marked heights and dates of historic and recent floods in the Neckar Valley. A few years ago (2001) the bridge was finally closed to traffic in order to preserve this endangered monument. Nowadays, (thankfully) only pedestrians & bicycles are allowed to cross.
--> NOTE: The bridge is a great spot for photographing the castle.
You will notice two (2) statues on the bridge.One is a monument to Prince Elector Carl Theodor. The statue was restored last year (in 2006) and I witnessed the unveiling ceremony (see pictures). The figures around his feet symbolize the most important rivers of the lands governed by him: the Rhine, Mosel, Danube & Isar.
He was also said to be a great fan and supporter of the arts & sciences. That's why the other statue is dedicated to the goddess of wisdom (Roman goddess Minerva; in Greek: Pallas Athene).
(see my separate tip on the famous Heidelberg Bridge Monkey)
Address: Street: "Am Hackteufel", old Heidelberg
Directions: Neckar shore, old town. Close to the Holy Ghost/Sprit Church.
The "Burgweg" up to Heidelberg Castle
History teaches us that the best fortresses & castles have always been built on a steep slope for military purposes. This made it difficult for the enemy to approach, and easier for the castle to defend itself (we all know of archers and the horror-stories of pouring molten-hot tar on the enemy, etc...) Heidelberg Castle is no exception.
There are 3 ways of getting to the castle:
a) take the "Burgweg" (=castle path). A steep cobbled path starting at the Kornmarkt (my favourite way to walk)
b) take the stairs (over 300 steps)
c) take the Funicular.
WALKING is of course the healthiest & most traditional option... and just when you think you're about to collapse, imagine ascending this steep path every day in full knight's armour! Wear comfortable shoes and enjoy the sense of achievement when you've reached the top :-)
The FUNICULAR railway line is 489 metres long & at its steepest point has a 43% gradient. The 2 split-level cars each carry 50 people & travels at about 4 metres per second.
--> In 2007 the railway line celebrates its 100th birthday!
--> For fabulous details on the history & legends of the castle, visit my friend Trekki's Heidelberg page!
--> Click here for Waalewiener's video of the funicular railway to the castle (June 2008)
Address: Old Town, Heidelberg
Directions: Take the Bus 33 & get-off at the stop "Kornmarkt/Bergbahn (Funicular)". From there you can either walk to the castle or take the Funicular.
"Studentenkuss" Chocolaterie, Heidelberg
This isn't merely a "restaurant tip"; a visit to this cafe is a must-do for any visitor!
In the heart of the old town you'll find Heidelberg's Cafe Knoesel! It was opened in 1863 and has always been a very popular meeting point for prominent citizens, university lecturers & of course students. All of the regular patrons loved and appreciated the humorous owner Mr Fridolin Knoesel, master confectioner and pastry chef.
The coffehouse also became a popular venue for daughters of wealthy socialites, who were naturally only allowed to be here with their governess. These women kept an eye on the pretty girls and were quick to protest if one of the many male students were ever to glance in the girls' direction: flirting was taboo! The strict governesses kept even these innocent flirtations of their charges under control.
This repressed flirting didn't go unnoticed by Fridolin Knoesel, so he cunningly created a chocolate praline especially for these young & romance-deprived girls. He called is the "Student's Kiss", so they may enjoy what they so craved until one day, when the governess might not be looking... their craving for things other than chocolate may be satisfied! Overnight, Knoesel's creation became an acceptable way for 19th-century students to "exchange kisses" in public:
The "Studentenkuss" is a nougat & chocolate centre with a waffle base and covered in dark chocolate.
They're not cheap (approx. 7 Euros for 3 pralines) but it's a worthy price for something so special. They are made in Heidelberg's oldest chocolaterie after all!
--> Hence, a box of these chocolates is a great way to take some memories of Heidelberg with you, be it for yourself or for your loved ones at home! The cafe is regularly filled with residents & tourists alike.
Address: Haspelgasse 16 & 20, 69117 Heidelberg
Directions: behind the Heiliggeistkirche (Church), Altstadt (old town).
NOTE: The cafe is located on the corner, the shop selling the chocolates is 3 houses further down the street.
Other Contact: Email: Knoesel@t-online.de
Castle & Neckar River, Heidelberg (Aug. 2006)
This is what you've come to see. This is the most beautiful part of town; with cobbles, church bells ringing, street musicians & gorgeous architecture: the Old Town ("Altstadt")
These are the must-sees of the old town:
> The main street ("Hauptstrasse")
> The Neckar River
> The Castle
> The "Great Vat"
> The Heilig Geist Church
> The Hotel Ritter
> The old bridge, its towers & the "bridge monkey"
> the University
> the Madonna at the Grain Market ("Kornmarkt").
> (December: Christmas Market)
Hardly any other city has been honoured by so many poems & songs as Heidelberg. Even J.W. Goethe wrote "Heidelberg - in its location - has something so ideal." Poems, quotes & songs describe Heidelberg as the German city of Romance, where the emotional connection between the 2 lovers, the rollings hills and the steady Neckar river, is still alive today.
One of the most well-known "odes" is this song: "I've lost my heart in Heidelberg":
(German) "Ich hab' mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren, In einer lauen Sommernacht.
Ich war verliebt bis ueber beide Ohren & wie ein Roeslein hat ihr Mund gelacht.
Und als wir Abschied nahmen vor den Toren, beim letzten Kuss da hab ich's klar erkannt:
Dass ich mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren. Mein Herz, es schlaegt am Neckarstrand.
Was ist aus dir geworden seitdem ich dich verliess?
Alt-Heidelberg Du Feine, Du deutsches Paradies?
Ich bin von Dir gezogen, liess Leichtsinn, Wein & Glueck.
Und sehne mich und sehne mich, mein Leben lang zurueck."
(English) "I lost my heart in Heidelberg on a balmy summer night.
In love head over heels, oh were she all mine
And like a rose, her laughing mouth my light as by the gates she said: good-bye.
That last sweet kiss, it did confirm once more,
I'd lost my heart in Heidelberg forever, my heart still beats on Neckar's shore.
Whatever happended to you, since you and I did part.
Oh Heidelberg of legend, you German paradise?
I went away and left you, Left wine & happy days.
I long to be, I long to be, back in your arms always"
Address: Old town Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg
Directions: "Altstadt" = Old Town.
Front wall of the Kurpfalz Museum, Heidelberg
(The Kurpfalz today describes the original "Pfalz" region of the roman empire, with Heidelberg as its capital)
This museum covers an impressive array of exhibits, including Archaeology (7 rooms covering over 1,500 square metres), Heidelberg's own history as a roman settlement & modern city, artistic sculptures & paintings from the 16th - 17th century, as well as an educational corner for children (I remember this from my school years...)
Another interesting fact about the museum's building is that it was built in 1712, and Maximilian Joseph von Chelius lived here from 1830-1876: He was a German eye surgeon that founded the first surgical clinic that immensely boosted the future of the medical faculty in Heidelberg University.
My mother and I weren't really in the mood for the museum on our last visit to the city, but we visited to relax with some lunch & coffee in the gorgeous courtyard garden, where you can escape the crowds (and in summer, escape the heat of the main street... see my "off the beaten path" tip)
The current exhibit was titled "Die Kurpfaelzer", depicting the lives & culture of my ancestors in the Heidelberg region (see photo... they weren't exactly attractive... haha!) and for many people in my area, our pride & joy is the copy of the lower jaw of the Homo erectus Heidelbergensis = The Heidelberg Man: this "newly discovered human ancestor" was discovered in 1907 in Mauer (near Heidelberg) and is said to have lived between 250,000 and 600,000 years ago all over Europe.
Opening Hours 2007: daily 10:00am - 06:00pm (Mondays closed)
Admission: Adults 3 EURO (students / senior citizens: 1,80 EURO)
Sundays: Adults 1,80 EURO (students / senior citizens: 1,20 EURO)
Address: Hauptstrasse 97, 69117 Heidelberg
Directions: Bus stop: University Square (line 32 or 33)
Phone: 0049-6221-583 4020
A freezing-cold winter day in Heidelberg 2007 :-)
***THERE ARE ALREADY MANY SUPERB TIPS ABOUT HEIDELBERG CASTLE ON VT, SO I WON'T EVEN ATTEMPT TO REPEAT THEM ON MY PAGES****
--> For fabulous details on the history & legends of the castle, visit Trekki's Heidelberg page!
--> Another great page with insights into the castle's history and legends can be found on christine.j's Heidelberg page!
Theodor-Heuss-Bridge in Heidelberg, Germany
(Theodor Heuss was the 1st elected president of the Federal Republic of Germany and the 5th president of Germany.)
This bridge might not be as well-known as the old bridge (with the 2 watch towers), but some of the best views & photo opportunities can be seen from this bridge crossing the Neckar river and connecting the Bismarkplatz in the Old Town ("Altstadt") with Neuenheim. Neuenheim is a residential district of Heidelberg covering approx. 5.6 square km. This is the bridge with a road & also tram tracks crossing it (the old town bridge with the 2 guard towers is only open for pedestrians & cyclists nowadays).
Especially in the summer months, you'll see Heidelberg locals walking their dogs down on the "Neckar Wiese" (Neckar grass / meadows) along the shore, with friends, or displaying one of the Germans' most well-known talents: taking our clothes off to sunbathe :-)
Stop and take-in a lovely view of the old town on your right, and the Heiligenberg ("holy hill") on your left with gorgeous green forests. Then, take a deep breath and feel that burning envy towards those lucky people who own those houses over there...
Most well-known on this side of the river is the Philosophenweg ("Philosopher's Path"), Heidelberg's most famous & stunning hiking trail. --> see my seperate tip!
Directions: If you are standing at the entrance to the pedestrian precinct ("Hauptstrasse"), with the Bismarkplatz behind you, turn left & walk for approx. 10-15 min.
View over Heidelberg in winter (postcard)
Do you wonder where all of those gorgeous postcard photos of Heidelberg's old town were taken? Where was the photographer standing? This is your answer: the Philosophenweg.
This view over Heidelberg is considered one of the best panoramas north of the Alps, and one of the most stunning walking trails in the whole of Europe.
This is where poets, scholars (Heidegger, Goethe and Jaspers) and Heidelberg University teachers used to stroll, taking in the beauty of the surrounding lush greenery & the historic city below. The path leads up along the hill on the north of the Neckar River and is easy to find via the various signs posted by both the old town bridge (Carl-Theodor-Bruecke) or the Theodor-Heuss-Bridge. If you're looking for your own personal "muse" or for that perfect view of Heidelberg from above, the Philosophenweg is the way to go! (excuse the pun :-)
The so-called "snake path" (Schlangenweg) winds up the hill, at once you can peek through the massive & ancient trees and vegetation you'll see Heidelberg on the opposite river shores in all its picture-perfect glory.
NOTE: This walk isn't recommended for elderly people or those with walking difficulties. Wear proper shoes (not high heels or sandals).
This street is also renown for its beautiful luxury villas or some of the city's wealthier residents (some scenes for the German movie "Anatomie" were also filmed here)
Address: Old Town, 69117 Heidelberg, GERMANY
Directions: Cross the Theodor-Heuss bridge, turn right, and the entrance to the path is located approx. 100 metres from the river's shore.
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