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The jewel among all German destinations, Heidelberg, is a glorious riverside city on Neckar River that prides itself for its romantic and picturesque cityscape. It was all but razed to the ground by French armed forces in 17th century and was thus rebuilt over a period of a hundred years, and was somehow excused of bombings by Allied Powers during the Second World War. This wonderful stroke of luck has now miraculously translated into a timeless and seamless show of classic 18th century Baroque architecture, central to which is the Alstadt (Old Town). Heidelberg is home to the oldest German university (Heidelberg University, built in 1386 AD) and the oldest existing German public library (Heidelberg University Library, established 1388 AD).
The ‘Old Town’ lies on the southern bank of river Neckar, and comprises of a beautiful array of long and narrow streets. It is hallmarked by the ruins of Heidelberg Castle, a former royal residence that lies on the foothills of the Konigstuhl hill. Some other attractions here include a mile-long pedestrian street called the Main Street (Hauptstrasse), an old stone bridge of 18th century and a late Gothic church called the Church of the Holy Spirit (Heiliggeistkirche) that was first mentioned in a manuscript of 1239 AD.
The Heidelberg Castle has alternated between construction and destruction for about four centuries to emerge as one of the world’s most famous ruined castles. Through whatever remains of this 14th century marvel, one can easily infer that it is a proportional blend of Gothic and Renaissance architectures. It is quite an experience to visit it for its historical quotient, and the intensity only goes north when one is enjoying cultural festivals and musical ceremonies amidst some delightful fireworks here. An intelligent way to cap the experience would be visit here during the Heidelberg Castle Festival (from June to August) for a stunning show of orchestrated music and operas.Philosophenweg (Philosophers' Walk)
The Philosophers’ Walk is a beautiful alleyway that runs alongside the Saints’ Mountain, and was used extensively by the learned professors of Heidelberg University to reflect on their ideas and principles. Standing from here, you can find some stunning cityscapes across the river Neckar up to the Old Town and the Heidelberg Castle. Further north of the hill are located the Monastery of St. Michael (built: 1023 AD), the Monastery of St. Stephen (built in 11th century), Heidelberg Thingstatte (an amphitheatre built by the Nazi forces in 1934) and the ruins of a nearly 2500 year old Celtic fort.