Located on the Neckar River in southwestern Germany, Heidelberg is known for its distinguished 14th century university. Upon the Konigstul Hill stands the red-sandstone Heidelberg Castle. To reach the castle visitors take the Bergbahn funicular and are rewarded with fantastic views of the river and the Baroque Old Town.
Overshadowing the Old Town is Heidelberg Castle. This is an impressive Renaissance castle which gets illuminated at night and can be seen across the Neckar River. Here you can find the world’s largest wine cask and get fantastic views of the city and river. Visitors can climb the steep, cobblestone trail or take the funicular.
The castle’s courtyard is surrounded by Gothic and Renaissance buildings. Visitors can sit on the benches on the terrace and enjoy the view and have a picnic.
The world’s largest wine cask the Grosses Fass has a capacity of around 228,000 liters. The wine barrel dates from the mid-18th century and is shaped from 180 oak trees. There is an adjacent cafe that serves beer, wine and in the winter hot mulled wine.
Here you’ll find Ruprecht Karls University Germany’s oldest university, established in 1386 by Count Palatinate Ruprecht I. Today there are 12 faculties and more than 29,000 students from 80 nations. 55 Nobel Prize winners have connections with this university. You’ll find the most historic facilities around Universitatsplatz, dominated by the Alte Universitat on the south side and the Neue Unversitat on the north side. Close-by is the Lowenbrunnen or Lions Fountain.
An exciting walk is along the Philosopher’s Way offering fantastic views taking walkers through the forest to different monuments, towers, ruins, a beer garden and the Thingsstatte, a Nazi-era amphitheater. There are lovely views in the glow of the sunset. The walkway is linked to the Old Bridge by the Snake Path, a series of switchbacks.
Beside the tower gate on the Old Town side is a brass sculpture of a monkey holding a mirror and surrounded by mice. It is thought that if you touch the mirror you’ll become wealthy, the outstretched fingers to make sure you return to Heidelberg and the mice to make sure you have many children.
The city runs the Palatinate Museum with exhibits of Heidelberg’s history most particularly the Roman perios. The exhibits include original wood beams from a 3rd century bridge. There is the replica of a 600,000 year old jawbone of the Heidelberg Man which was discovered around 18 kilometers southeast of the city in 1907.
Inside of the three room University Museum in the Old University building visitors can see paintings, portraits, documents and photos that document the illustrious histor of the university. You can also visit the adjacent Alte Aula, a neo-Renaissance hall which has rich decoration dating from 1886.
The focal point of Old Town street life is the Marktplatz. Here you’ll find the Hercules fountain where petty criminals were chained and left to face the mob in the Middle Ages. Across the street is the Baroque Hofapotheke, built in the early 1700s with a gilded coat-of-arms.
The upper section of the Bergbahn funicular railway makes use of rail cars dating from 1907. Starting from Heidelberg Castle the railway goes up to the Konigstuhl, an altitude of 550 meters offering lovely views and a TV tower. The telecommunication tower of the U.S. Army in Europe rises 80 meters high.
Above the attractive Universitatsplatz rises the red-sandstone Jesuits’ church. It is a wonderful example of 18th century Baroque. This part of town was at one time the focal point of Heidelberg’s Jewish quarter. The Schatzkammer has displays of precious religious artifacts.