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Ancient castles, narrow alleys, hilly streets – the town on the river Neckar with its old buildings and romantic parks and gardens enchanted Goethe and Mark Twain. The city is home to the oldest university in Germany and several other higher education institutions and research facilities. In Heidelberg, everything is within easy reach either on foot or by bike.
Heidelberg has a very beautiful old town. Unlike many other German cities, it was not destroyed in the Second World War, so the old buildings are still well preserved. Walking through the old part of town, you can explore the narrow alleyways and Philosophenweg. There, you will pass some beautiful old villas. The road takes you up a hill, at the top you have a magnificent view of the entire town and castle ruins. This outlook has always inspired philosophers – hence the name.
Heidelberg is particularly well known for its castle ruins. Every year, thousands of tourists flock here from all over the world. You can see the castle from miles away – it presides over the city like a king on his throne. Another popular attraction is the “Alte Brücke“ with its monkey statue. If you stop for a while, you’ll notice how visitors touch the statue. It is believed to bring good luck if you touch the coin the monkey is holding in its hand. Try it out! The city’s oldest building is the Hotel “Ritter“ that dates back to the year 1592.
While Heidelberg is home to several higher education institutions and research institutes, it is most famous for Heidelberg University, the oldest university in Germany, founded in 1386. Today, the university’s medical faculty, in particular, has a good reputation. There are also numerous companies in and around Heidelberg that have specialised in medicine and health. The German cancer research centre is also headquartered in Heidelberg. Because the university has been in existence for so long, it has no central campus but is spread all over the town. The natural sciences even have their own district, Neuenheimer Feld.
In Heidelberg, you can walk or cycle everywhere. Situated at the foot of Königsstuhl, the town is very hilly. So wherever you’re heading, you either have to go uphill, or if you’re lucky, downhill. But it’s these hills that make Heidelberg and the surrounding area so attractive. Strolling along the Philosophenweg in the evening and enjoying the view of the town and the castle is a unique experience! And if you don’t fancy walking, there are plenty of buses and trams that will take you to virtually every corner of town. Even up the steep streets…
Heidelberg has many English-speaking districts because for many years the American Allied Forces were based here. You can see where they used to live from the names of the districts, for example, the Patrick Henry Village.
The most important part of town for the people of Heidelberg is Bismarckplatz. Almost every bus and tram line stops here, so this is where you’re most likely to change bus or tram. With two shopping centres located right on the square, it’s also a good place for shopping. You can also get to Hauptstrasse from here. 1.6 kilometres long, this is one of the longest pedestrian area in Europe and you’ll find all kinds of shops and restaurants here.
If you’re looking for evening entertainment, you’ll soon realise that Heidelberg is a small town. You won’t have to worry about catching the last train home because you can always walk or cycle. There are lots of bars and pubs in Heidelberg, the majority are located on Untere Street. The people of Heidelberg simply call it “Die Untere“. This is a good place for meeting friends and fellow students at the weekend. You’ll find all kinds of bars and pubs here.
In the summer, the people of Heidelberg like to meet early in the evening on the Neckarwiese. Here, you can enjoy a beer with friends and fellow students, hire a paddle boat or have a barbecue. There is also a volleyball field, and somebody’s always playing football. Join in the game; the locals will be delighted to have your company! The path along the Neckar is also an excellent jogging route.
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