Heidelberg Scenic - Part 1

Germany, Heidelberg Guide (A): Heidelberg Scenic - Part 1

Heidelberg is well-known world-wide not only for its famous university, but also because of its scenic charm. Nestled between opposing hillsides where the Neckar River flows toward the Rhein River, Heidelberg displays a scenic beauty that has inspired many poets and artists to sing its praise in prose, song and on canvas. This tour will take you to some of the venues that inspired artists to choose Heidelberg as their theme.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Heidelberg Scenic - Part 1
Guide Location: Germany » Heidelberg
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Bismarckplatz   Neuenheim   Albert-Überle-Strasse   Philosophenweg (Philospher's Way)   Bismarckturm (Bismarck Tower)   Schlangenweg (Snakes Path)   Alte Brücke (Old Bridge)  
Author: Horst Schenk
Author Bio: I was born in Germany, grew up and was educated in the USA. I spent almost 23 years in the US Air Force as a meteorologist, then almost 20 more years developing software for military and meteorological applications. I now live in Heidelberg, Germany and write books, articles and computer programs.
1
Bismarckplatz

1) Bismarckplatz

The Bismarckplatz is the central transportation hub for Heidelberg. A few meters toward the river is the large bust of Otto von Bismark, who in 1871 became the first Chancellor of the newly united German Empire. As we go on over the Theodor-Heuss Bridge we can enjoy the views up and down the Neckar River. As a point of interest, this bridge was destroyed by the retreating German Army in 1945. The US Army, when it occupied Heidelberg without firing a shot, built a pontoon bridge next to the destroyed bridge, which was then replaced by a wooden bridge, until finally being replaced in 1949 by the bridge we see today. Children would jump off the wooden bridge since it wasn't as high off the water as the stone bridge is. One drawback was that in the summertime the nails that held the bridge together were very hot when stepped on with bare feet.
2
Neuenheim

2) Neuenheim

Many years ago when the Old Bridge upriver from here was the only bridge across the Neckar for many kilometers around, Neuenheim was a small village outside of Heidelberg. As the city grew, Neuenheim was incorporated as a part of the city. Today it is the most sought-after living area of Heidelberg. The University has its modern campus here and the streets are lined with chic boutiques, galleries and restaurants. University professors and university students live her, if they can afford it. Easy access to downtown Heidelberg and the surrounding area enhances its attraction. Have a look around, stop for a bite to eat or a drink, for next we will go up the Heiligenberg or Holy Mountain. Not to worry, the road is only moderately steep and paved. This and a further climb a little later are the only sections of this walk that are a little more demanding.
3
Albert-Überle-Strasse

3) Albert-Überle-Strasse

The ascent to the Philosophenweg starts here at the Albert-Überle-Strasse. Albert Überle was the last mayor of Neuenheim before it was incorporated into Heidelberg in 1891. We could have chosen another, more direct route, but it is more strenuous and does not present the view of splendid villas and vistas that this route does. The street winds its way up the hill, switching back several times, making the ascent easier. Two sets of stairs allow the pedestrian to take shortcuts, albeit at the expense of addition leg-muscle power. Among the private homes are older, sometimes plain-looking buildings. These buildings belong to the University of Heidelberg and were built or bought in the first half of the 20th century before the campus at the edge of Neuenheim was built. You may notice that most of these buildings have something to do with physics which can be attributed to the fact that originally a place that was free from earth tremors was sought and this hillside was chosen.
4
Philosophenweg (Philospher's Way)

4) Philosophenweg (Philospher's Way)

The Philosophenweg or Philosophers Way, aside from the castle, is the premier attraction in Heidelberg. The popular belief is that here philosophers of days gone by thought their deepest thoughts as they enjoyed the view. More likely is that when today's way was only a path in the vineyards that were situated here, university students would come here for some peace and quiet or a romantic rendezvous. In any case, the views are spectacular. The flower garden contains among indigenous species also exotic specimen that are able to be grown here because of the exposure to the warmth of the sun. No visit to Heidelberg is complete without a walk along the Philosophers Way. Take a rest on a bench and take in the splendor of the view.
5
Bismarckturm (Bismarck Tower)

5) Bismarckturm (Bismarck Tower)

For an excursion to another monument to the historic figure of Bismarck, the so-called Bismarckturm or Bismarck Tower, we must take a short climb up from the Philosophenweg. The tower was built in 1903 after in 1899 a contest was declared that was to stimulate the erection of as many so-called Fire Pillars, but not towers for viewing, as possible. As a result, 47 towers, all of the same design, were built throughout Germany. On top of the 15 meter high tower is a metal bowl in which a fire was lit on special occasions. The top of the tower can be reached via 74 steps on the inside where a wider panorama of the surroundings of Heidelberg awaits the visitor.

(Source: Wikipedia)
6
Schlangenweg (Snakes Path)

6) Schlangenweg (Snakes Path)

As we continue on to a point where we can descend to the city and experience more of the age-old beauty of Heidelberg, you can enjoy more of the scenic beauty of the Neckar valley and the surrounding area. Since the Philosophenweg was carved out of vineyards, the hillside has to be held back by stone walls. As you walk along on a sunny day you may see a salamander or two flitting in and out of the crevices between the roughly cut stones. The path we can take to go down to the city is called the Schlangenweg or Snakes Path. Contrary to what one may think, the name does not imply that one will encounter snakes, but instead describes the winding way the path leads one down to the city.
7
Alte Brücke (Old Bridge)

7) Alte Brücke (Old Bridge)

The Karl-Theodor Bridge is commonly known as Alte Brücke or Old Bridge. From the center of the bridge one of the most popular views of the castle can be had. Up to the year 1784 the river was spanned by a covered bridge supported by stone pillars. Drifting ice, high water and war made it necessary to repeatedly rebuild the bridge until it was built entirely of stone. The inner part of the two picturesque towers forming the bridge gate is actually part of the city's medieval fortification and goes back to the 13th century. Next to the western tower squats the bronze statue of the Bridge Monkey (Brückenaffe). His predecessor sat in a square tower at the north end of the bridge and greeted strangers coming into the city with a sneer. In his place today's Bridge Monkey holds a golden mirror in the face of visitors and greets them with the words (loosely translated): "What are you looking at? Have you never seen the old Monkey of Heidelberg? Look around and you'll find many more!" Next to the sneering figure of the monkey two small bronze mice cling to the wall. They are a reminder of the wheat loft that once stood near here. This concludes this tour. You can either explore Heidelberg on your own or take the second part of this tour. Have a pleasant stay in Heidelberg and Auf Wiedersehen!

(Source: Heidelberg, City Guide in Colour, Edmundvon König-Verlag, Heidelberg, 1993)