– J.W. Goethe –
Heidelberg is one of the cities that has always enchanted me. I have visited it twice. The first time was a few years ago when I lived in Madrid. It was my fist tourist adventure outside of Spain. I was visiting my cousin. The second time, a few years had passed, it was quite recently, but the city of dreams and romanticism was intact in my memories and in real life.
Two trips to fall in love with the city
The fist time I visited Heidelberg meant arriving at Frankfurt airport. This huge international airport, situated in fifth largest city of Germany (Frankfurt) left me speechless. Of course I had no words. I mean it has an area of 2,000 hectares of land with a capacity of approximately 65 million passengers per year. So after retrieving my bag, I hopped into a shuttle that took me to my end destination.
Forty Five minutes later I was in Heidelberg, home to around 150,000 people; one of them my beloved cousin.
This city is filled with history not only important to Germany but to the entire world. As a matter of fact, between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago the “Heidelberg Man” died.
His jaw bone was discovered in 1907 and this remains determined him as the earliest evidence of human life in Europe.
Modern Heidelberg can trace its beginnings to the fifth century. The village Bergheim (“Mountain Home”) is first mentioned for that period in documents dated to 769 AD. Bergheim is in the middle of modern Heidelberg.
As I soon learned, the locals value its world-renowned beauty and unspoiled setting at the heart of the ‘Rhine-Neckar Triangle’, but what they value most is the quality of life that the city offers.
This cosmopolitan, friendly, people-oriented and vibrant university city is made up of 15 distinct neighbourhoods and is particularly attractive to families, students.
Heidelberg is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. The picturesque ensemble of the castle, the Old Town, and the river Neckar surrounded by hills continues fascinating millions of visitors from all over the world today.
Some years had gone by and I was back in his jewel. This time around a road trip that began in Berlin. As I had seen before, this city is one of a kind. Its beauty and timelessness was the inspiration for the German Romantic Movement. The city is mostly known for its university and castle. It celebrates the traditional and the new, making it the perfect place.
Heidelberg is home to Germany’s oldest university and to internationally renowned research institutes and research-based companies.
About 11.8 million visitors from all over the world come to the city each year. The population, too, is international: an estimated 45,000 of Heidelberg’s inhabitants have an immigrant background – many of them are scientists and students.
A fact that made me fall in love with this city even more was that its green. By this I mean that the combination of attractive countryside, favorable climate and urban lifestyle makes it a delight. It has also won multiple awards for its commitment to the environment.
A cosmopolitan city
But although this city is perfectly organised and continues to have great plans for the future was really sticks out its the ambient, the closeness, the people.
As a matter of fact, Heidelberg is a cosmopolitan city and has a real culture of welcome and acceptance. Even though the city’s population is becoming more diverse all the time, people feel at home here. And that is something to cherish!
It doesn’t matter if you visit Heidelberg on business or tourism, you will find it is a city that ha something for every person.
Around 11.8 million people come to Heidelberg every year, drawn by the historical flair of this university city, with its stunning setting, wide range of activities, superb shopping, and restaurants to meet every taste.
There are so many sights to discover. Heidelberg Castle and its gardens are without a doubt a magnet for visitors and the city’s top attraction. For five hundred years it was home to the Prince Electors of the Palatinate. Nowadays, the enigmatic castle attracts several million tourists each year. It is possible to walk up one of the many paths and a breathtaking view of the city, the castle, the river and the surrounding hills will appear before your eyes.
The city itself is filled with memorials, historic buildings, fountains and life. The old town is a journey back through history.
It is dominated by the ruins of Heidelberg Castle, 80 metres above the Neckar on the steep wooded slopes of the Königstuhl (King’s chair or throne) hill.
A medieval bridge gate, the old stone bridge, is on the side of the old town, and was originally part of the town wall and built between 1786–1788.
The Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spririt) is situated in the marketplace of the old town. It is the most famous church in Heidelberg. The town is dominated by the steeple of the church, rising above the roofs. Originally, it contained the tombs of the Palatinate electors but they were destroyed by fire during the War of the Palatine Succession.
There are plenty of cute streets and squares to explore. The main square Marktplatz is a fun place to sit for a drink and to people watch.
As you stroll through Heidelberg you will also be tempted to stop off in some of the many public squares and gardens. They are little green oases.
This time around, I had te opportunity of living Heidelberg Christmas Markets. It extends to over five beautiful and historic market squares: Kornmarkt, Marktplatz, Universitätsplatz, Anatomiegarten and the Bismarckplatz. And let me tell you they are one of a kind.
Bismarktplatz is the entrance to the Altstadt, and here the decorated stands are a wonderful way to start an unforgettable Christmas market visit.
The scents of roasted almonds, cinnamon and hot chestnuts float through the alleyways of the Old Town. Couples glide on skates and in the Christmas stalls a never ending chatter of international confusion of voices.
Yes, Christmas season in Heidelberg adiates with magic. The market is quickly filled by the people of Heidelberg and regional and international guests. The atmosphere is unique, it offers a warming glow of light along one of the longest pedestrian zones in Europe.
In the fairy-tale winter woods at the “Kornmarkt”, the Advent stroll is transformed into a sensual experience.
The Heidelberg Market square is where you can find the Heidelberg Christmas pyramid. The Corn market is where the well-known Madonna statue compliments the view of the castle. And it is only fitting that the manger, together with a petting area, with donkeys and sheep is also here.
With its 140 or so highly individual stalls it has become an absolute “must” among connoisseurs. It’s a wonderland. It all blends enchantingly into the background of historic squares while illuminations add a magical atmosphere.
With it’s beautiful Christmas decorations the Heidelberg Christmas market is great for a leisurely browse and stunning views of the old castle. Obviously, it offers a wide array of crafts and tasty regional delicacies.
Heidelberg is a city that captured my heart. It has so much to offer: charm and character in abundance between the Old Bridge and the mighty castle. An unparalleled choice of culture and entertainment, hearty yet heavenly cuisine and a picturesque settings. I won’t be able to forget the crispy winter aroma and truthfully I don’t want to. I am not sure if it was the season, Christmas, or the company, my family, but I have always felt at home in this enchanted city, a magical place!