Seriuos hike for a view and Ludwig's Castle

Heidelberg Travel Blog

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For some crazy reason my mobile phone has started to spontaneously change time zones.  Thanks to this, the alarm I set got us up an hour early.  We didn’t realize until we were ready to leave the room.  Oh well, that gave us an additional hour to spend in Heidelberg. We had a nice breakfast at the hotel and then headed out in the city. 


What a beautiful morning!! The skies were blue with just patches of clouds here and there.  We headed across the Neckar River to walk down to the old town.

  I wanted to get to the spot where the photo in guide book was taken. It was a panoramic view of all of Old Town and the river.   As we moved down the riverbank we began to see the castle and the Old Bridge.  Traditional German towns have such a quaint look and this one would be even more special.  The houses in Heidelberg are very impressive.  They all have beautiful details that give them wonderful charter.  There were many mansions along this side of the river with fantastic views of the town, I imagine! The retaining wall we were walking along had a large rings embedded periodically to tie up boats.


We got to an area where we were close to the right spot for the picture, but needed to get higher on the hill.

  Rob looked at the map and thought he had found a way.  We wondered back into a neighborhood. The whole way is up a very steep grade. Normally this would be no problem for me but, I have been having issues with my right hip for several weeks now. I refused to let that slow me down but, I had to go slower that was normal for me.  The houses were like small estates. Some had grand gates and many had Porshes.  In one we noticed a private funicular to tend their garden, that’s extreme.  We kept going higher but just couldn’t get to the right spot.  We finally decided that we had to get above the neighborhood.  Rob found that if we went into a park area further up on the hill that we might find the spot. First, we had go back down the hill.  Then, we started back up the hill, which turned out to be much steeper then we expected.
  The houses were set back on the hill side with gates to keep people out as it was obvious that the views from this level might cause people to trespass for the perfect photograph.  Although we were in the middle of a neighborhood it was very peaceful and quite.  The lush green trees surround us while letting in the sun and showing off the brilliant blue sky.  As we wound our way into the park and up and up and up, the hill grade got steeper.  We were both getting warm and beginning to sweat. 


At one point Rob saw some stairs.  I made him go up and check it out before I made the potentially fruitless effort.  It was an outlook connected to another trail that was less steep.

  The view of the town was fantastic through the trees.  We could see a lot of the town and the castle, but not the bridge.  We snapped a couple of pictures and then headed on down the path.  Rob noticed some symbols on the map that he though indicated more outlooks, he was right.  The next outlook was the fantastic.  We had great views of the town that were very close to what the book had. I decided that in a different season, and less foliage, this was probably the spot.


  Rob noticed a staircase down the looked like it would lead to the Old Bridge.  We headed down.

  About half way down we came to a magic spot, where the picture in the book was taken!!  I was thrilled.  Even with the extreme effort and 2 hours of time, the view is so very worth it. I’m glad that I insisted we continue. The sun was a challenge, but I got some great shots.  We continued down and through a maze of stairs for at least 15 minutes but, it turns out we could have saved a lot of time and energy, but would have missed out on the great neighborhood. We were now at the bottom and just across from the ancient bridge to Old Town.


We headed across to begin our exploration of the city.  The towers for the city gate were beautiful.  They are a rich terracotta and cream color.

  Bands of color alternate with the white of the tower around the bases. On top there are spires whose bases look like German helmonts.  The spire of the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit) is visible as you approach.  Rob caught a glimpse of something to the side of the right tower so we went around.  We found the Bridge Monkey holding his mirror in his left hand, with his degree and mice beside him.  You can actually put you head inside his face like a mask for pictures. It’s really strange to me but, an interesting sculpture and many people were fascinated by it.

From here we quickly grabbed a couple of drinks and postcards.

  We headed on to Karlsplatz.  The square was busy with activities.  Souvenir vendors were already out with their t-shirts, hats, and assorted items.  There were a lot of wooden toys and decorations.  Fruit, vegetable, and flower vendors were also out serving the local community.  What a fabulous way for a town to begin waking up for a hectic day.  We spotted an ATM and got cash for the day.  We had noticed an organic restaurant called Green which was offering a special tomato-orange soup which sounded wonderful.  We returned and got a table in the window, we were sitting on the window ledge as our bench. It was a great place to enjoy a view of the square and people watch. We took the opportunity to write the couple of post cards we had.  The soup came and had slices on mandarin oranges in the tomato soup and a side of toast.
  It was fabulous, until my last bite which was a surprise for me.  I thought I was getting a basil leaf and ended up with a mouth full of coriander.  It was awful.  I don’t like the flavor at all and to have a mouth full was disgusting.  I had vivid flash backs to my culinary experience in Georgia, which I still have nightmares about.  The soup had still been delicious.  With a little more energy we headed towards the castle. 

We decided to take the funicular up and to walk down.  Rob bought the tickets from a machine and we waited in line. While in line we discussed whether the correct tickets had been purchased. Rob returned to the machine briefly and returned thinking we had.

Since we were in the front of the line we got a great seat for the ride up.  As we climbed the mountain the town of Heidelberg began to stretch out below us.  On the opposite hill we could see the houses and fields of farms and ruins of old buildings and towers.  We had been in that area earlier in the morning.

We reached the second stop thinking we were going to go all the way to the top. It was time to change funiculars at that point. While standing in line for the next one, I noticed a perfectly formed spider web in the bushes next to me. I got a great photo.  Rob was unsure, again, that he hadn’t purchased the right tickets, and it turned out he hadn’t. 

We walked down the mountain path to the castle.  The approach from the back gave us a full overview of the compound.

  The huge exploded tower (powder tower) stood out with the huge fragment of the wall still lying where it had fallen hundreds of years before when the tower was blow-up by the French.  The clock tower to the left of that provided a regal frame to enter the courtyard.

We got a few pictures and head down to go inside.  As you pass into the outer courtyard there are a few vendors selling their wares.  To the left is the Elizabeth gate which was said to have been constructed in a single night as a birthday surprise for prince-electorate Ludwig V’s wife.  They have estimated this is physically possible based on the number of stones used.  The gate leads you into a small garden with stunning views of the mountain side and city on one side the moat on the other.

We purchased tickets to the guided tour of the castle and grounds.

The guide was a very nice young girl that share many interesting facts about the buildings, the grounds, and the people who lived here.  At one time the area was full of canons for defense, but Ludwig changed that too, reducing the defenses of the castle.  The moat could be flooded in case of attack, but was also used to keep deer for the prince-electorate to hunt (cheating if you ask me) and later as a zoo holding a menagerie of animals.

We moved on to the inner courtyard.  It was an amazing mix of styles form Gothic to renaissance.  The newer buildings (from late 1500’s) seemed to sore to the sky with fluted columns and statues of the family.  They even included Charlemagne (not a family member) to give an air of grand association.  I felt as if I were in a very regal court and could just imagine the ladies in their long flowing dress and men in regal dress moving about me.

  To give an illusion of grandeur and wealth the building were built with the ground floor being the tallest and each successive floor getting shorter. Doing this tricks the eye into thinking the building is taller than it really is.  The top floors were very low and pretty much unusable, so the servants lived there. A lightning strike to a tower was what caused the last destruction of the castle. The fire burned for 3 days and 4 nights gutting the wooden interior of the buildings.  One building had been restored to a mixture of the styles of the different  periods of the complex, although no plans were available to guide the work.  The rest of the buildings are being preserved in their most recent condition.  We took a tour of the inside of the rooms.  Their preservation and restoration has been beautifully done for the most part but, some cost cutting was evident.
  Below the library we found out that they had a mint for coins.  As they were authorized to mint the money, why not have it in the castle secure and convenient.  They have several greatly detailes models of Heidelberg Castle. There's the original build, the model of the castle at it's largest with massive gardens, and a model of the ruins as they are today. They give you a view not possible, otherwise. They have a banquet hall that has been paneled over and has the most hideous light fixtures. It even had the gridwork for a drop ceiling.  Rob and I both cringed at the sight. I couldn’t even bring myself to take a picture.

After the tour we went to see the huge wine cask which can hold 255,000 liters of wine.  We entered a room and saw a cask that was about 3 times Rob’s height.  It was amazing to see a barrel that large and to think it was full of wine before.

To empty that would have been one heck of party.  We thought this was it because it was so big, then we noticed another room where lots of people were going.  We entered and I was floored by how incredibly huge the wine cask in that room was.  It dwarfed the other on and made me feel like ant. It must have been the equivalent of 3 or 4 stories tal.  It is so huge there is a dance floor on top.  The cask had been filled and drained three times before.  The prince-electorate would take wine as payment form the local people.  They would give him both red and white.  But they would not give him the best quality and many times it was watered down.  All of this was mixed together in the cask.  The prince himself wouldn’t drink it because it wasn’t good, but he served it to his guests and paid servants with it when money was short.

When we left the castle we exited down another steep hill.  We headed back to Karlz Platz and had a late lunch at an Italian restaurant. It was run by Italians specializing in home cooking and it was fantastic and expensive! One thing I can say is that Germans really love meat.

 After lunch we picked up a couple of souvenirs. We found a shop selling the most detailed and interesting etchings of different city features and other designs as well. I decided that instead of a monument for my collection, this would be better.

 I took pictures of the Ritter House which seems to be a German, Baroque melding and full of creative elements. Then we went into the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit).

  It is very plain with very little detailing.  It has great Gothic arches soaring to the peaks of the ceiling.  Some of the stained glass windows have been replaced with very modern works.  I was not impressed with those in that setting. They could have done better.

  Next we headed towards Universityplatz to find the post office.  On the way we stumbled upon the gorgeous Jesuits’ Cathedral, built during the 18th century.  It was difficult to get a picture of it because everything was so

close together. Its façade is classic Baroque and a fantastic example in pink marble. Inside, it is painted in the whitest of whites which is unusual. Most Baroque cathedrals are very colorful with marbles and frescoes. There was one really unique feature to this church, its column’s capitals are painted in a highlighting of gold and green that is very striking.

I am really taken with it.  Inside the church was lovely.  It hard the saw type of soaring arches to the ceiling.  One unusual thing was that they had elaborate oil paintings of the Stations of the Cross.  They were also raising money to purchase a new organ.  To do this they were selling the individual pipes.  It was amazing to see all of the names on the pipes on the fund raising board.

We finished in the church and went on to Universityplatz.  It had some cool buildings with interesting architecture.  The center piece of the square was a column with a lion on it.  I wanted to get a picture, but this man walked up as I was trying to take a picture.  He saw me pointing the camera and waiting but just wouldn’t move.

I was quite upset. He looked me in the eye several times and just sat there. I took the picture that I could and then walked by him and looked him in the eye and told him how rude he was. He had no response.

We finished up and decided it was time to head home.  We navigated the pedestrian way , well tried to. It was crazy busy like the Kalverstraat on a Saturday, for those of you who know how awful that is.

We made our way to the car and got on the road, leaving around 5:00 pm.  Rob drove until we had to stop for gas then I took over.  I was so happy to be on the autobahn and just open up the car.  At one point we came up on a police car and I was a little worried as I was driving over 100 mph.  Rob reminded me that there is no speed limit, just go.  Another car went flying past us and the police just stayed where they were.

  After that I went ahead and just enjoyed the speed.


sylviandavid says:
nice blog of a very full day... lucky you got in the extra hour!
Posted on: Oct 02, 2009
lauro says:
i celebrated my 30th birthday here! wahahahaha ^_^
Posted on: Sep 18, 2009
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