HEIDELBERG, GERMANY: Heidelberg is one of the most charming German towns I’ve visited as of yet. Situated by River Necker, it makes a great getaway from Frankfurt or Bonn. It’s a neat little organized city with warm beauty everywhere you look. This would be in my top-10 “picture-perfect” cities of Europe so far…loved it so much. Enjoyed its beautiful atmosphere with old-time settings and would love to go back there again and again with every chance I get.
Old town of Heidelberg kept its charming medieval look and feel all throughout the city. Cobblestone streets, narrow alleys lined with many designs of colorful buildings, flower pots on the windows, small cozy cafes make this little town a fun place to spend a day or two. I can guarantee that this place won’t disappoint anyone who is into small town beauty and looking for a fun getaway from the chaos of big cities.
TIME of TRAVEL: We were out with my aunt, visiting us from the USA, on a long weekend of May 2013. This was our last stop of our mini-Germany trip that included Düsseldorf, Bonn, and Frankfurt. It was not in our itinerary but one of my husband’s colleagues had suggested Heidelberg and I was truly thankful to him for recommending this place. If I can remember correctly, it took us about little more than hour to reach here from Frankfurt. It was cloudy and was raining a bit when we arrived. The weather continued to be like this throughout the whole day surprising us with little bit of sun shine once in a while.
OUR HOTEL: We didn’t stay in Heidelberg. We stayed at Novotel in Frankfurt. After checking out in the morning, we headed straight towards Heidelberg before heading back home to Tervuren, Belgium.
EATING and SHOPPING: Heidelberg is overloaded with tons of nice cafes and restaurants. We had lunch in a kebab and pizza place in Marktplatz opposite to Heiliggeistkirche. Every café or restaurant I saw, looked so welcoming and warm. Outdoor sitting arrangements with cute designs and lovely decorations make them very cozy.
Many souvenir shops can be found in Marktplatz of Heidelberg. Sketches, beer mugs, and cuckoo clocks are just few things to name you can find in these shops along with many other gift items. Old district of Heidelberg has many boutique and locally owned shops where you can find unique things.
PLACES WE’VE VISITED: Walking around the old town of Heidelberg is the main attraction of this city. We spent about a whole day here before heading back home, about 4 hours of drive. All the main sites here can be seen on foot and I highly recommend doing it on foot…otherwise you will miss out the main beauty of Heidelberg. Walk on Haspeigasse (takes you to the river) or Steingasse for nice charming surroundings.
1) HEIDELBERG CASTLE/SCHLOSS and GARDEN: The ruins of Heidelberg Castle is a famous landmark of Germany and number one spot to visit in Heidelberg. Located 260 feet up on the hillside, the castle dominates the view of old town of the city. The original structure of this castle was built before 1214 A.D. Heidelberg Castle gives a fabulous view of River Necker and the small town at the foothill. Go to the terrace beyond the courtyard to enjoy the view from different angles and sides. The surroundings couldn’t get any better…it was simply outstanding.
The park of the castle is very calm and green with a fantastic overview of the whole town and small hills. Old ruins of a tower in one side of the park looks like telling stories from the past. Statue “Father Rhine” at one end of this park is an added dimension to the castle garden.
The courtyard is truly enchanting and takes you few centuries back. Statues and detailed work on buildings are something to appreciate. Magnificent façade of Frederick building with 16 sculptures on it looks very decorative.
German Pharmacy Museum is a small museum that the castle houses giving history of medicines in Germany and some other parts of the world. You can see herb processing tools and laboratories from an early age.
The “Great Barrel” at Heidelberg Castle dates back to 1750. It was made with oak wood and the wine deliveries from various communities were stored in the barrel. By 1767 it showed large damages caused by decay and was kept as an object of interest for visitors of the castle. This is located in an underground wine-cellar display.
There are three ways to go down to the old district from the castle. Tourists can either walk for 10 minutes or take 315 steps or take a short funicular ride to altstadt (old town). The ticket we bought for 6 euros covered German Pharmacy Museum, Great Barrel, and funicular ride down to altstadt (old town).
2) KORNMARKT: This is a small square at the foothill of Heidelberg Castle just beside Marktplatz. There was a nice setup with many activates for the kids during our visit.
3) MARKTPLATZ: This is the main square of Heidelberg that houses Town Hall (Rathaus in German) at one side and many old buildings on other sides. There was a big farewell party for the US Military who were stationed here for a long time. Loud music, dance, food, lot of people made that place very lively during our visit.
4) HEILIGGEISTKIRCHE (CHURCH of the HOLY SPIRIT): This is a beautiful late Gothic church and the most famous one of Heidelberg. Built in 1563, the steeple of this church dominates the township. Salmon color interior of it with tall columns, high ceiling, and pretty patterned windows make this church a nice place to spend some time in. it’s located in Marktplatz and there is no fee to go inside.
5) AM BRUCKENTOR and KARL-THEODOR BRUCKE (ALTE BRUCKE): You can see the towers of this gate, am Bruckentor, from the castle up on the hill. Crossing it will take you right to the 200 meters long pedestrian bridge, Alte Brucke, on River Necker. Don’t miss the fantastic view of the river, its beautiful banks, mountains, and castle in the distance from the bridge. We spend about half an hour enjoying the surroundings and looking at other tourists…great moments.
6) JESUITENKIRCHE: This was our last stop in Heidelberg but wasn’t in our list. The building looked good from outside, so we decided to check it out. This is an old church from 1711 with all-white and a very elegant looking interior. The altar is simple but very pretty. Cute chandeliers and biblical frescoes make this place worth a visit in this old city.