View on the Old Town an Old Bridge
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“The city, with its position and the whole surrounding area has, one may say, something ideal”, as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote about Heidelberg in his diary over 200 years ago. Nothing about this has changed fundamentally up to the present day. Heidelberg is one of the greatest tourist magnets in Germany. Every year, several million guests visit the city, whose late-Mediaeval center nestles below the imposing Castle complex between the foothills of the “Königstuhl” and the banks of the Neckar. For countless foreign tourists, Heidelberg stands high up on the wish list of places to visit in Germany, as the epitome of German romanticism. And quite rightly so, because the city offers a host of sights and experiences, all in a compact area. The majestic Castle towering high above the old town literally crowns Heidelberg as a tourist center. Nor is its charm in any way spoilt by the fact that it has been largely a ruin for over 300 years. Heidelberg with its Castle was for almost five centuries the residence of the Electors Palatinate, so inseparably connected with its over 600-year old University and the almost sacred “Alte Aula” (“Old Assembly Hall”). Even the Romantic poets such as Joseph von Eichendorff, Clemens Brentano, Achim von Arnim and Friedrich Hölderlin fell under the spell of the city, just like the author Mark Twain, the composer Robert Schumann and the painter William Turner. The “Philosophenweg” (“Philosophers’ Path”), on the other side of the Neckar from the old town, provides the proverbial picture-postcard view of the city, the river, the “Alte Brücke” (the “Old Bridge”), the Castle and the “Königstuhl” towering almost 600 m high above it.
For around two kilometers, this “5-star promenade” leads almost along the foot of the Heiligenberg, presenting as if on a silver salver the most beautiful of all views of the city - like an image of Romanticism turned into reality in 3-D wide-screen format. From the “Philosophers’ Path”, the way meanders over innumerable steps and rough cobblestones down to the “Old Bridge”, another stone testament to the former “Residence” city. From here, it is only a few steps to the old town with its many picturesque squares, churches, museums and other sights. Still more surprises await the visitor here in the side streets with their abundance of narrow alleys, quiet spots and secluded courtyards. In view of the range of attractions available, visitors will be spoilt for choice when deciding what to do in the evenings. Heidelberg has a historic theatre, completely renovated in 2012, with three branches, as well as several smaller private theatres. The cultural repertoire of this polyglot small, big city is as lively and multi-facetted as the range of visitors who come here from all over the world. This also applies for the dining and hotel facilities, which range from the many traditional student pubs to gourmet restaurants, and from the backpacker quarter to 5-star hotels. More than 6,000 hotel beds await visitors to Heidelberg, who in view of the abundance of large and small tourist attractions could spend their whole holiday here.