Saturday, 29 March 2008


As well as visiting Munich I also spent almost 2 days in Heidelberg on my way south. It was really quite a nice city, particularly the pedestrianised centre bit, but then you would hope it was nice as it is meant to be the prettiest city in Germany, having been spared the bombing of the Second world war.

It is most famous for it's ruined castle, which sits about 80m above the city and which was very popular during the German romantic period. The castle was first built in the early 15th century and was later added to in the 16th and 17th centuries, before it was destroyed during the 30 years and the 9 years wars.

The people at work were quick to point out that it was the French that destroyed the castle thus laying claim to the cause of Heidelberg's fame. I have no idea if this is true, German history is such a mess that I found it impossible to tell who was fighting who and for what reason. Anyway someone destroyed the castle for some cause and it remained that way until the 1760's when the new Elector (someone who votes on who is going to be the king, I think) started rebuilding it. This rebuilding was again halted when lightning struck the castle damaging it further and the Elector took this as a sign from God that no renovation work was to be finished. And it has been a ruin ever since, with a brief period as a quarry when the townspeople were stealing bricks for their own homes.

As well as the castle Heidelberg is also famous for it's university, which is one of Europe's oldest having been founded in 1386. But I think a bigger claim to fame should be this freaky monkey statue. I don't know what it is for or why it is there, but it comes complete with life size mice statues next to it.

I really liked the city planning in both Munich and Heidelberg, with their pedestrianised city centres, but also the city centres didn't seem to be the business district but rather the shopping/restaurants/pubs district. I think it gives the cities a nice feel then as you don't have suits rushing around to what they think are their very important meetings, but rather it is just people wandering around, meeting friends and checking out the sights. The pedestrianisation also means that the old buildings and churches are in what was their original surroundings and so you don't suffer the bizarre sight of having a 15th century church surrounded by hordes of very 21st century traffic.

Heidelberg's famous university, German towns really have a different look to Paris, what with all the very red roofs. Unfortunately it was a miserable 2 days with rain and periods of sleet so all the photos are a bit misty.

Here is the ruined castle from up-close.

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