Our Blog - Heidelberg, Germany - July 2008

In July we took the train to Heidelberg, Germany for a few days. Heidelberg is best known for its castle that sits on top of a hill overlooking the city and its University, one of the best in Europe, that dates from 1386.

As mentioned the castle sits on top of a hill that overlooks the city and is visible from pretty much everywhere in the city. The castle was originally built in 1214 but partially destroyed in the 1700's and never completely rebuilt.

From just a bit below is a well preserved portion of the castle.

The entrance to the castle was though this gat, guarded by the large sentry above and to the right.

Susan is standing in front of the door to the castle, holding the large handle. Legend has it that anyone who could break this handle would have the castle as their own. There are marks on the handle, supposedly by a witch who attempted to break it by biting it.

Here is another entrance into the castle.

Frederick V married the English King's daughter Elizabeth Stuart, and while it was not a happy marriage he did have this gate, the "Elizabeth Gate" built for her.

As mentioned before the castle was never completely rebuilt after damage in the 1700's. The next five pictures show how much damage had been done that was never fixed.

In the interior courtyard of the castle there are numerous original statues, two of which are shown.

A better view of the interior courtyard, showing the different architecture on the left versus that on the right, reflecting the different periods over which the castle was constructed.

One of the more interesting coat of arms is shown here, at the bottom there are two monkeys in a tug of war contest. This symbolized the types of strength contests that would be done during the 1400's and 1500's.

Another view of the courtyard, on the middle building you can better see the sundial that would have been used to tell time.

Above one of the doors in the castle are two angels representing the two sons of an architect who died in an accident while he was working on the castle.

There is a pharmacy museum inside the castle, here is a nice example of a typical pharmacy from a few hundred years ago.

There are two old large wine casks in the castle as this was one way in which the local residents paid their taxes to the royalty. While it is hard to believe this is the smaller of the wine casks

A little bit removed from the main part of the castle there is a garden with this interesting water fountain. In the garden during the summer concerts and plays are held.

The castle provides some excellent views of the Neckar river and the old town.

The old bridge dates from 1788, but it was blown up during WWII and then quickly rebuilt in 1947.

In the middle of the Heidelberg market place is the Church of the Holy Spirit which dates from the 1400's. For a quite awhile it was used by both Catholics and Protestants, as there was a dividing wall through the middle of the church.

Slightly to the left of the Church of the Holy Spirit is the main shopping street in Heidelberg, with all of the tourists making their way to the shops.

One particularly nice square in the city has this nice statue and in the background is the castle on the hill.

The Rathaus (town hall) is a particularly nice example of architecture in Heidelberg.

To the left of the Church of the Holy Spirit are some nice older buildings in one of the main squares. At street level on the side of the church are shops which have been connected to the church for hundreds of years.

Two particularly nice examples of buildings dating from the 17th century, these were former residences of the wealthier residents of Heidelberg.

There is a picture of the Haupstrasse (the main shopping street) from the castle. At ground level it is a bit more hectic with people bustling among the shops and restaurants.

This Jesuit church was built in 1751 following the arrival of the Jesuits to Heidelberg in 1698.

The interior of the Jesuit Church is gleaming white with beautiful statues and paintings.

The University of Heidelberg is over 600 years old, and while none of those original buildings remain the library pictured here is still an impressive building.

For some reason not clear there has been a monkey next to the Old Bridge in Heidelberg as far back as the 15th century. Almost all tourists take pictures of the monkey and we were no exception.

The reconstruction of the old bridge was excellent as the gate here looks like it is from the 1700's although it is only from the 1940's.

We took a half day tour on the Neckar river down to the area where there are four old castles, two of which you can see close up and two which we saw from a distance. Some of the castles are in good shape while others are less so. Actually one of the castles is now a private residence and is obviously in pretty good shape. From the signs you can see the castles are quite old, two of them date from the 1100's.