Heidelberg is located by the banks of the River Neckar, at the bottom of the valley in the Odenwald mountain range. At the edge of the city are two mountains, the 568-m Königsstuhl and the Gaisberg, with near the bank of the Neckar is the 445-m Heiligenberg.
Heidelberg is divided into fourteen districts with the Altstadt or Old Town at the center. Also within the central part of Heidelberg are the neighborhoods of Bergheim and Weststadt.
Heidelberg experiences an oceanic climate. Its geographical position in a forested valley exerts an influences on its climate. The warmest month in Heidelberg are July and August, when the average high temperature reaches 25.1°C (77.2°F) and often more.
The Heidelberg area has one of the earliest evidences of human habitation in Europe. In 1907, scientists discovered remains of the “Heidelberg Man”, which is between 200,000 to 600,000 years old. The area was inhabited by Celtic tribes as early as the 5th century BC. The Celtics built a fortified refuge in the area.
Roman troops occupied the Heidelberg area from 40 AD until 260 AD, when their encampment was captured by Germanic tribes. The city of Heidelberg traces its beginnings to the 5th century, when the village of Bergheim was established. It remains today as a neighborhood of central Heidelberg.
Modern Heidelberg traces its history to the construction of the Neuberg Monastery in 1130. The University of Heidelberg, the oldest university in Germany and the fourth university to be established in the Holy Roman Empire, was founded in 1386. Its library, founded in 1421, is the oldest public library in Germany that is still intact. It was here in 1518 that Martin Luther was received to defend his 95 Theses.
Heidelberg was a stronghold of the National Socialist German Workers Party, commonly known as the Nazis. Under Nazi Germany, non-Aryan university staff of the University of Heidelberg faced discrimination. Increased discrimination led to Kristallnacht on 9 November, 1938, when the Nazis razed two synagogues in Heidelberg and began the systematic deportation of Jews to concentration camps.
Heidelberg escaped Allied bombing, along with other university towns such as
Tübingen and Göttingen. After the Second World War, it was under US occupation, and was made the headquarters of American forces in Europe. Today the city is a major tourist destination.
Visiting Heidelberg, Germany
The nearest airports to Heidelberg are those at Frankfurt and Stuttgart. From the Frankfurt Airport, you can catch an ICE train to Heidelberg. The tickets can be purchased directly from the counter or machine once you arrived at Frankfurt Airport. Most credit cards are accepted. One-way journey costs €24.50. Alternatively, you can also take the Lufthansa Shuttle Bus from Frankfurt to Heidelberg. The fare is €22 one way and €40 return. Passengers of Lufthansa flights get a €2 discount.
Get the Heidelberg Card, a tourist pass that allows you to take its public transport (trams and buses) as well as enter many of its museums without additional charge. The card is available from the Tourist Information Center at the Heidelberg Railway Station.
Places of Interest in Heidelberg, Germany
- Alte Universität
- Carl Bosch Museum
- Documentation and Culture Centre of German Sinti and Roma
- German Packing Museum (Deutsches Verpackungsmuseum)
- German Pharmacy Museum (Deutsches Apothekenmuseum)
- Heidelberg Castle
- Museum of Ecclesiastical Arts (Museum für sakrale Kunst und Liturgie)
- Palatinate Museum (Kurpfälzisches Museum)