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Heidelberg: International and romantic

Ancient castles, narrow alleys, hilly streets – the town on the river Neckar with its old buildings and romantic parks and gardens enchanted Goethe and Mark Twain. The university is the oldest in Germany and famous for its medical faculty. In Heidelberg, everything is within easy reach either on foot or by bike.

by Florian Schubert

Heidelberg Castle © Schubert/DAAD
Heidelberg Castle . © Schubert/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
148,000
Students:
36,675
Universities:
6
Monthly rent:
331 €
Tip:
Enjoy a romantic sunset at the Philosophengärtchen!
Website:
www.heidelberg.de

Welcome to Heidelberg

Heidelberg has a very beautiful old town. Unlike many other German cities, it was not destroyed in the Second World War, so the old buildings are still well preserved. Walking through the old part of town, you can explore the narrow alleyways and Philosophenweg. There, you will pass some beautiful old villas. The road takes you up a hill, at the top you have a magnificent view of the entire town and castle ruins. This outlook has always inspired philosophers – hence the name.

Bicycles ath the university © Konrad
Bicycles ath the university . © Konrad

Heidelberg is particularly well known for its castle ruins. Every year, thousands of tourists flock here from all over the world. You can see the castle from miles away – it presides over the city like a king on his throne. Another popular attraction is the "Alte Brücke" with its monkey statue. If you stop for a while, you'll notice how visitors touch the statue. It is believed to bring good luck if you touch the coin the monkey is holding in its hand. Try it out! The city's oldest building is the Hotel "Ritter" that dates back to the year 1592. You can still book a room here even today.

Hotel
Hotel "Ritter" . © Schubert/DAAD

Heidelberg is also famous for its university. Founded in 1386, Heidelberg University is the oldest university in Germany. Today, the university's medical faculty, in particular, has a good reputation. There are also numerous companies in and around Heidelberg that have specialised in medicine and health. The German cancer research centre Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) is also headquartered in Heidelberg. Because the university has been in existence for so long, it has no central campus but is spread all over the town. The natural sciences even have their own district, Neuenheimer Feld.

Panorama of Heidelberg © Konrad
Panorama of Heidelberg . © Konrad

In Heidelberg, you can walk or cycle everywhere. Situated at the foot of Königsstuhl, the town is very hilly. So wherever you're heading, you either have to go uphill, or if you're lucky, downhill. But it's these hills that make Heidelberg and the surrounding area so attractive. Strolling along the Philosophenweg in the evening and enjoying the view of the town and the castle is a unique experience! And if you don't fancy walking, there are plenty of buses and trams that will take you to virtually every corner of town. Even up the steep streets...

Heidelberg has many English-speaking districts because for many years the American Allied Forces were based here. You can see where they used to live from the names of the districts, for example, the Patrick Henry Village.

Living in Heidelberg

The most important part of town for the people of Heidelberg is Bismarckplatz. Almost every bus and tram line stops here, so this is where you're most likely to change bus or tram. With two shopping centres located right on the square, it's also a good place for shopping. You can also get to Hauptstrasse from here. 1.6 kilometres long, this is the longest pedestrian area in Europe and you'll find all kinds of shops and restaurants here.

My tip

In the summer, you should wander along Philosophenweg in the evening. After you've climbed the first steep part, you'll get to the Philosophengärtchen. Sitting here watching the sun go down is an amazing experience, and very romantic with your boyfriend of girlfriend.

If you're looking for evening entertainment, you'll soon realise that Heidelberg is a small town. You won't have to worry about catching the last train home because you can always walk or cycle. There are lots of bars and pubs in Heidelberg, the majority are located on Untere Street. The people of Heidelberg simply call it "Die Untere". This is a good place for meeting friends and fellow students at the weekend. You'll find all kinds of bars and pubs here: in the "Absinthbar", for example, you can try different flavoured absinth!

In the summer, the people of Heidelberg like to meet early in the evening on the Neckarwiese. Here, you can enjoy a beer with friends and fellow students, hire a peddle boat or have a barbecue. There is also a volleyball field, and somebody's always playing football. Join in the game; the locals will be delighted to have your company! The path along the Neckar is also an excellent jogging route.

If you're interested in culture, drop in at a poetry slam. The latest dates are advertised on the Word-Up HD website. The Open-Air-Slams held in the grounds of the Villa Nachttanz are a special attraction in the summer.

Interview with Mayuko from Japan

Mayuko Arita is 22 years old, comes from Japan and took a German course in Heidelberg. She is now studying for a Master's degree in Piano Music in Hamburg.

Picture of Mayuko from Japan © Schubert/DAAD
Mayuko from Japan . © Schubert/DAAD

Why did you decide to study in Heidelberg?

I came to Heidelberg, or more precisely to Germany, to audition at various music universities. I also wanted to take German courses. I looked for language courses on the Internet and the one in Heidelberg had the best ratings. There isn't a music university in Heidelberg itself, but you can get to lots of other towns, such as Frankfurt or Nuremberg, from here. So I was able to attend a good German course and at the same time visit lots of other towns.

What surprised you most about Heidelberg?

There are so many Japanese here! There are even signs in Japanese. That surprised me a lot.

At the Neckar  © Konrad
At the Neckar . © Konrad

What did you like most about Heidelberg?

The castle is really beautiful. There aren't any castles where I come from, and I always liked it there.

What was your favourite spot?

I always liked the Neckar too. There are lots of flowers on the Neckarwiesen. It's really beautiful there. It's where I used to do my homework. I guess that's my favourite spot.

Complete the following sentence: For me, studying in Germany means ...

getting to know a new culture and history in a country where classical music is more natural than it is anywhere else in the world. There are so many operas and concert halls here, I can really feel the atmosphere!

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