"The city in its setting and entire surroundings may be said to have something ideal." (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1797). Scarcely any other European city has had its praises so often sung as Heidelberg. The mysterious Heidelberg Castle, the picturesque Old Town, and as Goethe himself stated, the perfection of its setting – in the nineteenth century, all of this attracted the German romanticists, who immortalized Heidelberg in poetry, music, and art. Today the charm of Old Heidelberg is combined with a future-oriented and international focus.
The poet Goethe praised Heidelberg almost modestly as having "something ideal" about it. But Mark Twain, the pragmatic Mississippi river pilot, speaks of "the last possibility of the beautiful."
Today a city with some 160.000 inhabitants, Heidelberg was once the royal residence of German Prince Electors, and for hundreds of years it was a focal point of German history. Closely connected with Heidelberg are the names of such houses of nobility as Wittelsbach, Stuart, or Medici, of theologians such as Martin Luther, or political figures such as Friedrich Ebert.
Strikingly evident is the beauty of Heidelberg’s setting and architecture: edged north and south by the forested hillsides of the All Saints’ Mountain and the King’s Chair, Heidelberg lies where the Neckar river leaves the Odenwald Forest and flows onward into the Rhine valley. The baroque silhouettes of the houses, the elegant sweep of the bridge over the river, and the stately ruin of the regal castle towering above the town, blend with the surroundings to present a visual image that is almost ethereal.
Amidst this magical setting, the town pulsates with modern life. In the angular lanes of the Old Town, students, tourists, and long-time residents cross paths day and night. Numerous stages beckon citizens and passers-by alike to enjoy the annual festivals for classics, jazz, film, theater, and literature.
In Heidelberg’s oldest university, founded in 1386, research at the highest level is being actively pursued. At present some 31,000 students are matriculated, roughly a fifth of the population. It is largely the students who vest the city with its cosmopolitan, international, and youthful atmosphere. Positioned in one of the most dynamic economic regions of Germany, Heidelberg is among the most attractive conference and convention sites in the land.
With the HeidelbergCARD, the visitor can become acquainted with the city’s famous sights and attractions simply, comfortably, and economically.
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