Historical Heidelberg: A favourite of writers and students

Heidelberg is pleasing on the eye and there is a reason for that. It is because it was virtually annihilated during the Thirty Years Wars in 1622. As it was rebuilt all at the same time this means that it all matches. It also means there are a lot of tourists, and not all of them know their history. Sometimes the loudest people are the most wrong, I was dubious about some of the facts that were coming out, and this was way before Trump.

Mark Twain came to Heidelberg on his travels and wrote about it in A Tramp Abroad, he enjoyed the University and used to sit in on lectures there. He stayed at Hotel Schrieder which is now the Crowne Plaza.

Writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said it had ‘something ideal’ which I think stills holds true today.

He also said: ‘Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.’ I’m not sure I did any of those in Heidelberg but it is certainly a thing to aim for.

The ruined Schloss is the big visitor attraction. It was destroyed in 1693 but it was rebuilt and tourists flock to it every day. 

As well as being very historical, it also has a healthy student population which means that it is still quite cool and not too stuffy. If you are looking for more inspiration then why not stroll along Philosophenweg and see if you come up with any new ideas. Just don’t say God is dead, I think Nietzsche took that one.

The students today get off lightly compared with their predecessors at the University of Heidelberg as they used to be locked up in the Studentenkarzer, or Student Prison for periods of 3-4 weeks at a time. The jail is the size of large apartment and covered in student graffiti, there was a door which allowed them into their lessons during their incarceration.

The crimes committed by these loose cannons as described by the tourist office were things like ‘disturbing the peace, womanising, drunkenness, and setting the townspeople’s pigs free.’ So if history is any guide, students have always been roguish dickheads. It was closed down in 1914 so it is no longer a rite of passage for today’s young minds. I’m sure they still get up to no good though.


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