Brussels to Berlin, via Heidelberg

Heidelberg Travel Blog

 › entry 6 of 17 › view all entries

It seemed like a waste to just fly over Germany on the way from Brussels to Berlin, so Lina and I decided to catch a train across, with a day stop-over in Heidelberg on the way. I am always surprised at how rapidly you can travel from Belgium, from leaving our apartment in Brussels to walking into our hotel in Heidelberg last night took just under four hours.


Heidelberg is a beautiful bustling little town.

We walked from the train station into the centre of the city, stopping of course to see the statue of Robert Bunsen, the inventor of the Bunsen burner. After poking around the various churches and marketplaces we walked up to the ruined Schloss. This castle sits up on the hills surrounding Heidelberg. It was originally built in the 1200s, but most was destroyed in the Thirty Years War and rebuilt from 1693 onwards. The detail in the castle courtyard is amazing, like the Grand Place in Brussels, but most has been left in the ruins caused by war, towers half destroyed and buildings long decayed. The view out from the castle terrace over Heidelberg was just picture perfect.


One of the things Lina and I were looking forward to in Heidelberg was the Grosses Fass, the Great Barrel. We walked down to the basement of the castle to see an enormous wine barrel, around eight metres long and four metres in diameter.

We admired the shear scale of the barrel, only to find out on walking around it that we were looking at not the Grosses Fass, but instead the Kleines Fass! The Grosses Fass had its own sub-basement and was simply enormous, large enough that we climbed several flights of stairs to walk on top of it. The Great Barrel was built in 1750-1750, during the period of Elector Carl Theodor (1742-1799). The barrel is nine metres long and 6.5m in diameter, and can hold a total of 228 000 litres of wine. It wouldn't exactly have been quality wine, being used to collect tithings from farmers, with all the collected wine being tipped into the same barrel. Rather than being destined for the Elector's table, this wine was pumped up to the great hall for general consumption, the way water would be today. It was also more a sign of prestige than practicality, as the barrel was only useful for around twenty years before it couldn't be repaired further, having only been filled up three times.
At the front of the barrel was a carved statue of "Perkeo", an Italian jester at the court who was nick-named "Perkeo" ("why not?") for his traditional answer when asked if he would like more wine. It is said that he died after drinking a glass of water.


Another exhibit at the Schloss that we greatly enjoyed was the Deutsches Apothekenmuseum, the museum of Germany Pharmacology. I love the detail and dedication that used to go into a pharmicists' work, the sketches of various plants and the painstakingly labelled bottles of the various poisons with which they tended to kill their customers. One thing which I had not been aware of was that Pharmacists used to take the Oath of Nuremberg, dating back to 1350, which stated: "Every pharmacist is to swear that he will prepare in any case that what was told or written to him, to the rich, and the poor without endangering them.

.. He should take such payment that me makes a modest profit for his food, nourishment and labour according to the time and to his conscience."


Back down in the city we had "Knightpan" for lunch, which ended up being a delicious pan filled with fried mushrooms, capsicum, onions and fetta cheese, which went down a treat with a stein of beer.


Heidelberg is the scene of the oldest university in Germany, Ruprecht-Karl-Universitat founded in 1386, so we visited the Studenten Karzer, the old townhouse used as the student jail from 1778-1914. As part of the foundation charter, the university was granted the right to execute justice on its student population, and used it by frequently throwing its students in jail (typically for three days) if they were caught singing loudly, drinking, being cheeky to professors or police, cavorting with women or swimming naked in the city fountains.

Of course if they had exams they were allowed to leave, sit the exam, and come back. The attraction to the jail is the floor to ceiling cover of artistic graffiti left by generations of bored imprisoned students.


Finally we visited Alt Bruke, the small stone bridge over the river. There is a famous statue of a brass baboon at the gate (by touching the two small mice behind the statue I apparently increased my fertility) where for some unknown reason several girls and a guy were pretending to be agents from the Matrix, complete with shiny trenchcoats and ear pieces.


Now we are rushing across central Germany, currently at 250km/hour (they have a speedo on view), thanks to Deutschen Bahn. Lush green meadows, cute little towns, wind farms and coniferous forest – in around four hours we'll be in Berlin.

dothoin says:
great blog on heidelberg was there 2 years ago and loved it
Posted on: Sep 13, 2009
lamadude says:
Aaah Heidelberg, I love this place! Studied at the university for a year here (never ended up in prison though ;-) I wished that that year would never stop...
Greets from Florence!
Cedric
Posted on: Sep 13, 2009
sylviandavid says:
nice blog.... sounds like a great time...
Posted on: Sep 13, 2009
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Pharmacy Museum
Pharmacy Museum
Train station
Train station
Pharmacy museum
Pharmacy museum
Grosses Fass
Grosses Fass
The view over Heidelberg
The view over Heidelberg
Perkeo
Perkeo
Heidelberg Hotels & Accommodations review
Great if you are just after a place to sleep
Only rated as two stars, the Ibis Heidelberg was exactly what we were after. It is built into the Heidelberg train station, so when we arrived on the … read entire review
Heidelberg
photo by: findmeabeach