Most of Europe’s cities have an inescapable charm and character all of their own, with a striking sense of having stood for centuries. Heidelberg, in the south west of Germany, is no exception. Beautiful architecture lines the River Neckar here while the oldest university in the country attracts students on a global scale, giving the city a vibrant, youthful atmosphere. Contrasting with this playful appearance, churches, monasteries and the castle stand as a tribute to Heidelberg’s historic past. For any travel to the city use a price comparison site such as Money Supermarket to find the best deal on insurance for your trip.
Popular Historic SitesOne of the most visited attractions in Heidelberg is the Alte Brucke (Old Bridge), which was preceded by various wooden constructions that were time and again destroyed by disasters including floods, fire and ice. Nine arches proudly traverse the river and the bridge which stands today was built from red sandstone between 1786 -1788. Goethe was fascinated by this structure and he once claimed it to be the most beautiful bridge in the world. Look out for the intriguing sculptures as you cross, particularly the monkey on the right hand side of the towers.
Step back in time at Heidelberg Castle, where you will find a history almost as old as the city itself. Partially ruined, it is an important landmark to the Renaissance period with beautiful views across the downtown area. Take a tour into the cellar and you will see the ‘big barrel’; built in 1591 it is a wonderful photo opportunity.
There are many churches to explore as well including Peterskirche (St Peter’s Church) and Michaelskloster (St Michael’s Monastery), a ruined monastery reached via Philosophenweg.
GardensThose with green fingers will simply adore the botanical gardens at the university, one of the oldest botanic gardens in the whole country dating back to 1593 when it was used to cultivate medicinal herbs. Conservation and education are the primary uses for the garden today and it is a great place to see unique plant collections in the greenhouses as well as outdoor areas such as the alpine garden and heath bog.
City WalksA place for quiet contemplation, Philosophers’ Walk or Philosophenweg takes you on a tranquil route through vineyards of the 17th and 18th centuries. University professors and students used the walk when they needed to have serious philosophical discussions while enjoying views across the Neckar. Sub-tropical plants thrive along the way including lemons, bamboos and even Japanese cherries. It is easy to see why German poets fell in love with Heidelberg here.
ShoppingHead into the historical city centre for shopping opportunities galore with more than 400 companies on offer. From quaint independent stores to the larger chain and department options, purchase unique gifts or treat yourself to something special and quintessentially German. After a spot of retail therapy, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can unwind and watch the world go by.
Image credit: FelixHuth