A small city nestled on the banks of a meandering river in the shadow of rolling green hills. The medieval city of Heidelberg captures your heart through its cobblestone streets, the charming promenades that line the city center, and the castle standing watch over town. The city of Heidelberg was founded in the 12th century, and is home to about 150,000 residents, one quarter of which attend the famed University of Heidelberg. Outside of being a university town, the city is a popular destination for tourists seeking a classic example of 18th century Germany.
Our brief time was spent walking the famed Marketplatz - lined with cafes and boutiques, crossing the statue marked bridges along the Nektar river, and exploring the Heidelberg Castle. The Heidelberg Castle is the city’s biggest landmark - a partially rebuilt red sandstone castle destroyed in the 17th and 18th centuries. Located about 260 feet up the hillside from town, the castle offers sweeping views of the town and valley below, and supplies the picturesque backdrop of Heidelberg that occupies my mind. The castle was first built in 1214 with construction continuing until 1650. It has since been partially rebuilt and now provides a wonderful public space. On our climb up countless steps up the hill to the castle, we noticed massive estates perched on the hillside approaches. These gorgeous and ornate old homes gave a sense of the wealth still present in Heidelberg today. From these hillside estates you could see all the way across town, to the other side of the river where other massive homes line the adjacent hillside looking back up at the castle. Prominence and wealth have been visible in Heidelberg for centuries and remain an integral part of the city tapestry. While walking through the city center, you are struck with the youthfulness of the population and how much the university impacts day to day life here. But alongside this University culture, wealth is very much present as well. Every building in town is impeccably appointed, every street perfectly maintained, and the stores in the city center are occupied by some of the top retail brands in the world.
Heidelberg the city is a living testament to the quiet wealth of Germany today. Heidelberg the castle is a structure that stands as a reminder of the riches and power that have persisted in this area for centuries. They both serve to bring you back to another time while also impressing upon you the current success of the German culture. // Jeff