Heidelberg Hump Day

25 Mar

You know the best way to celebrate making it to the middle of the week? By taking a quick road trip to one of the prettiest cities in Germany, in my opinion anyway! And I do mean QUICK- we had to drop Neve at school at 8a and be back to pick her up at 2p, so we made the most of it for sure! Heidelberg is the coolest little big town (feels small, looks charming, actually pretty darn big) and is about halfway between Stuttgart and Frankfurt, so about an hour and a half, less if it weren’t for the God-awful traffic this country is known for. Grrrr.

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Heidelberg sits along the Neckar River in southwest Germany and is the fifth largest city in Baden-Wurttemberg (our state here- the largest in Stuttgart). It has nearly 200,000 residents and is known worldwide for its university, as well as its castle. But look at the picture above- doesn’t it just look like a quaint small town?? That picture is actually only of ‘Old Town’- you can see a bit of ‘New Town’ in the distance…

Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, “Heidelberg Man” died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907. Scientific dating determined his remains as the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of worship were built on the Heiligenberg, or “Mountain of Saints”. Both places can still be identified. The Romans built and maintained permanent camps and a signal tower on the bank of the Neckar. They built a wooden bridge based on stone pillars across it. The camp protected the first civilian settlements that developed. The Romans remained until 260 AD, when the camp was conquered by Germanic tribes. Modern Heidelberg can trace its beginnings to the fifth century.

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If you look closely at the top of the mountain, you can see the Roman signal tower (from the 5th century BC!) where the trees part…

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Standing on the Old Bridge, the castle is in the distance on the left…

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Alte Bruke, or Old Bridge, made of Neckar Valley sandstone, is one of the last large examples of a classical stone bridge. Built in the 1700s, the old Bridge Gate still stands and is a landmark of the area- it was once part of the medieval city wall.

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Heidelberg Castle was originally built in 1214 and added to over the years with most of the current structures being added in the 16th century. The ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. Throughout its years in operation, the castle was used as both a residence by multiple kings and as a fortress. Also over the years, it had several severe destructions due to attacks, fires, bombs, and plain ‘ol time…Luckily, the majority of the castle underwent restorations in the early 1800s so we can at least get a taste of its splendor. It’s really a beautiful castle.

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The grassy courtyards surrounding the castle were used for drying laundry and grazing farm animals.

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Powder turret split by an explosion in the late 1600s and described in Mark Twain’s ‘A Tramp Abroad’ from 1880.

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Gate was built in the 16th century and had a drawbridge just beyond…

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Aside from the castle, Heidelberg is so darn pretty- the architecture, the colors, cobblestones, the squares, the green spaces…All set along the river. Even the ‘New Town’ is pretty as far as modern cities go. I definitely think I could live there 😉

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Heiliggeistkirche, or Church of the Holy Ghost, is the tallest and most famous church in Heidelberg. Its foundation dates back to 1398. That’s a permanent farmer’s market around it.

So we covered alot of ground in just a few hours, right?! Our feet were hurtin’, but in a good kinda way ;). It even managed to wait until we got back in the car to rain! And before I  go, I’ll leave you with just a couple neat factoids about Heidelberg:

  • The first evidence of humans in Europe was found here (already told you that one up top!)
  • The city served as a Nazi stronghold during WWII- nearly all of the Jewish population was wiped out once Hitler came to power.
  • The Allies, however, did not target nor bomb Heidelberg because they wanted to use it as an Army garrison following the war due to its awesome infrastructure (Autobahn, river, and railways).
  • Heidelberg University is the oldest in German, and one of the oldest in Europe. It’s been teaching medicine for nearly 650 years. One of every five residents is a student.

Interesting stuff, huh? Hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend! We will drop Uncle Andy at the airport in the morning to make his trek home 😦 and then head to the park with friends for a little Easter Egg Hunt! Should be fun- fingers crossed for no rain! Jeez, I must be getting used to it over here if I pray for no rain rather than sunshine- I know better by now! Ha!

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2 Responses to “Heidelberg Hump Day”

  1. tk1208 March 25, 2016 at 2:49 PM #

    I went to Heidelberg when I was a kid and I really want to go back. Great post 🙂 Consider me a follower!

    • Erin T. March 26, 2016 at 8:57 AM #

      Great to have you! Yes, it’s a great place, isn’t it? 🙂

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