According to the weather forecast it was suppose to be a sunny day, but it turned out to be very mixed. We headed into Heidelberg a university town on the River Neckar. A number of friends had visited the town and had recommended it but we had only visited briefly in the past. Directions into the city were a little misleading. We decided to find a car park and then walk. The one thing we discovered there were very few signs to the old town and the castle despite the city attracting over three million tourists a year. If in doubt “ask a policeman” which he did and in fact he produced a small tourist map out of his pocket for us and gave us very clear directions where to go.
Heidelberg began life in the 5th century when the village Bergheim (Mountain Home) was established although there had been both “early man” and the Romans present in the area before that. The monastery of St Michael was established in the old Celtic fort that stood above the village in the 9th century. It was during the 13th and 14th century that the town significantly developed with the building of a castle on the same site as the Celtic fort by Louis 1 Duke of Bavaria. However years would take its toll on the castle particularly during the War of the Palatinate Succession when French troops ravaged Heidelberg.
With our map we made our way through the old town down the Hauptstrasse, the main shopping street. There was the interesting Jesuit Church which had a beautiful but simple interior. The large Heilgeist Church in the market place was large but less impressive inside. The main attraction in Heidelberg are the ruins of the old red stone castle that sits high above the town. We could have been lazy and taken the funicular up but we decided we would walk up. It was a good cardiac workout for all three of us. As well as the castle there were the extensive castle gardens which we enjoyed exploring. From various points in the gardens we got great views down on the town, the River Neckar and of course the castle ruins.
After visiting the castle we headed back down to town and walked through the Bruckentor gateway onto the bridge over the River Neckar which gave great views of the river, the old town and the castle. We then headed back to find the car. And returned to base.