The capital of the Palatinate (Kurpfalz) is at the point where the Neckar coming from the Odenwald enters the Rhine valley. It is considered the cradle of German Romanticism and has inspired poets such as Brentano, Arnim or Eichendorff. The city is mentioned for the first time at the end of the 12th century. 200 years later the university was established and the castle under Palatine Count Rupert was built. In 1693 the town and castle were destroyed and rebuilt in the 18th century in baroque style. Rising majestically above the roofs of the old town are the ruins of the Heidelberg Castle – the most spectacular in its location, size and beauty in all of Germany. The classical-romantic view of Heidelberg's Old Town and the castle can be enjoyed from the Philosphengärtchen (Philosophers' Garden) and along the Philosophers’ Way on the north bank of the River Neckar.
From a magnificent Renaissance building to a symbol of transience
The castle ruin high above the old town of Heidelberg is one of the most famous ruins in Germany and the city's landmark. The fortified castle from the 13th century was converted into the magnificent residence of the Palatinate Electors in the Renaissance. After the destruction of 1689 and 1693 by the French, the castle was restored only hesitantly. In 1764, a devastating fire after lightning struck sealed all efforts. The building was abandoned and the ruin was used as a quarry for the new Schwetzingen Summer Palace and later for the citizens of Heidelberg. At the end of the 18th century, the picturesque ruin was discovered by literary figures as a symbol of transience. During the Napoleonic Wars it was reinterpreted as a patriotic monument.
Panoramic trip to the Königstuhl
With the mountain railway you can go up to the Königstuhl and enjoy the fantastic views over the city and the Rhine plain up to the Palatinate Forest. The lower cable car, one of the most modern mountain railways in Germany, starts at the Kornmarkt in the old town and goes via the Castle to the Molkenkur. From there, you take one of the oldest electrically operated mountain railways to the Königstuhl.
Baroque pedestrian bridge
The baroque Karl Theodor Bridge is one of Germany's oldest bridge buildings and was first mentioned in 1248. There were many previous wooden buildings, but they were repeatedly destroyed by drifting ice floes. It was built in its present form in 1788, but towards the end of the Second World War two pillars were blown up by the Wehrmacht to stop the advancing Allied troops. Already in 1947 the bridge was completely reconstructed. At the southern end of the Old Bridge stands the medieval bridge gate with its 28-metre-high double towers. Originally it was part of the city fortifications. Bridge duty was paid at the gate, in case of danger it could be closed by a trap gate.
Panoramic walk steeped in history
The name comes from a time when all students had to study the seven liberal arts, which were combined under the subject philosophy, before starting their studies. It was probably not so much the scholars as the students who discovered the path as an ideal place for romantic walks and undisturbed togetherness. For the first 700 meters the lower half leads steep and winding through one of the most expensive residential areas in Heidelberg. Then it continues on nearly even grounds . The Philosopher's Garden offers the best view over the Neckar to Heidelberg's old town, the Königstuhl and the castle, but also out into the Rhine plain.
Romantic Road: From Munich to the Rhine Valley