I think I now know why a friend once said his favorite city in Germany was Heidelberg. It proved a favorite of ours too. Maybe part of its charm is that the city perches beautifully on the hills above the river.
Certainly another of Heidelberg’s charms is the impressive ruin of Heidelberg Castle that looms over the city (voted the most popular German tourist attraction).
From the castle there are great views over the city and the river, and, coincidentally, for those who care, tennis star, Steffi Graff’s house.
Another attraction of this city is that the population of Heidelberg, which is about 150,000 persons, is about 1/5th students. This lends a youthfulness and vitality to the rather ancient setting.
Heidelberg was a very clean city unlike many student-dominated cities in the United States. We did find graffiti here, but even it seemed rather neat and disciplined in execution as if in keeping with Germanic culture.
Again we found a large pedestrian-only historical city center and wished we had had more time to explore.
In addition to the City center there were many side streets to explore full of cafes, galleries and boutiques.
It seems a bit odd that such a seemingly sophisticated city would choose a monkey as its landmark mascot, but so it has been since the 1500s . A newer version (1979) of the original monkey now sits at the base of the Old Bridge over the River Neckar. This one also holds a mirror, but rather than touching its behind, has fingers that ward off the evil eye.
On this same bridge you will find signs of the increasingly popular lock-craze wherein couples inscribe their initials on a lock and toss the key into the water signifying their unending love. This trend apparently began in Cologne or Paris (depending on your source).
This region as well as all the others we traveled, was bantered back and forth between Protestants and Catholic rule. This Madonna at the Grain Market sculpture in Heidelberg symbolized the then prevailing Catholic faith. Madonnas were placed everywhere as if to prevail by sheer numbers alone.
We would have preferred more time in Heidelberg, but instead headed off to Rudesheim, a small winemaking town on the Rhine, perhaps best known for its Drosselgasse, a narrow, pub-lined lane, which is the site of much merrymaking and virtually the only location for life after hours.
As we floated away, the Eibingen Abbey could be spotted on a hill over the town.
A few more observations: