Philosophizing in Heidelberg. Travel to the best of Germany
Heidelberg. An envied city
-So the castle is in ruins because the prince chose the wrong in-laws?
-Something like that… Or because the Sun King of France was jealous of this town’s beauty and found a pretext to occupy it.
Such things will be said if you follow the guided tour of Heidelberg Castle.
Perhaps the most impressive ruin of Germany.
Heidelberg was the capital of one of the most powerful principalities of Germany.
Until the prince Karl-Ludwig, thinking he was arranging a good alliance, married his daughter Elizabeth-Charlotte with Monsieur.
That’s how the king’s second brother was always called in France.
What the princess did in France is another story. She despised the official mistress of her brother-in-law the King (Louis XIV) and you can guess the consequences.
For Heidelberg, however, the consequences of this marriage were worse.
When the Prince of Heidelberg, son of Karl-Ludwig and brother of Elisabeth-Charlotte, died without male offspring, the more direct ‘beneficiary’ was Elizabeth-Charlotte.
So, Louis of France considered justified grabbing the principality “on behalf” of his sister-in-law.
The result was a devastating war, which in 1693 left Heidelberg in ruins.
The city was rebuilt, but not the castle.
Fortunately, the city recovered quickly thanks to its university. Founded in 1386, it’s the oldest in Germany and one of the most famous of Europe.
Also, Heidelberg is one of the few German cities that escaped the bombing.
One more reason to visit.
We went on an organised trip. Rare for us, but it was the tour of southern Germany, with villages where it’s difficult to go alone.
A beautiful ruin
If you too go on an organised trip, you will start from the castle. For a ruin, it’s extremely impressive.
A tower of the castle, witness of the French invasion
The small part of the castle that was rebuilt
The most notable thing in the castle is the huge barrel that fits … 221 726 litres. Thanks to a pump, they could draw wine straight from the royal hall. For immediate results.
Note the platform on the barrel. From there they could taste the wine, but also… dance if they overdid the tasting.
You can also see the German Pharmaceutical Museum, with 18th and 19th-century equipment.
The German Pharmaceutical Museum. Source: Hermann Luyken
If your tour guide is a husky middle-aged lady with a characteristic parrot-hat, do not delay in the castle.
So two friends of ours stayed behind and when we realised they were missing from the group, the guide said, “I’ll go and fetch them” and left like a rocket inward.
I think she also rolled up her sleeves as she was leaving. We felt relieved that we were not in their place.
A well preserved old town
Afterwards, you’ll go on a city tour.
It’s worth noticing the House of the Knight of the 16th century. They call it like that because it’s got Saint George in knight costume on the façade.
It’s the only Renaissance house that escaped the French invasion. All the rest of the city was rebuilt after 1693.
The House of the Knight of the 16th century. The only Renaissance house that escaped the French invasion
And finally, don’t forget to take the Neckar River bridge and cross over.
And climb the Philosophers Walk. In fact, there walked the students, who once, regardless of speciality, also took philosophy courses.
The view of the city is worth the climb.
Heidelberg is crossed by the river Neckar
View from the Philosophers Walk
But be careful not to let the night find you there, like us. You will not be able to see your nose and you will get off stumbling.
Going down you will see an unusual come and go for a German provincial town. Thanks to the students. Thirty thousand students in a city of one hundred thirty-five thousand, can’t avoid giving vitality.
Such vitality, that you will see the prison that functioned especially for them until 1914. Inside you can see the signed inscriptions they left, proud of their passage from here.
The students’ jail. For the troublemakers. Discipline was not fun then. Source: Ji-Elle
You can imitate them (I mean the students of today), going to Vetter’s Alt. There you’ll drink Vetter’s 33, the strongest beer in the world with 33% alcohol! And around you will see unfolding the life of one of the most beautiful cities in Germany.
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