The second day in Heidelberg we had glorious weather. The clouds had disappeared and the blue sky seemed to stretch endlessly for miles. To me, it’s simply amazing how a landscape can look so different just by the sun coming out and shining with all its might.
We started off the day by walking across the bridge, passing underneath the fairy tale looking gateway which used to be part of the city walls in the Middle Ages. The red sandstone bridge is simply referred to as the “Old Bridge.” Not a real creative name, but it’s to the point. Also next to the gateway, there is a sculpture of a weird looking monkey. I did some research and apparently there was another statue of a monkey next to the bridge sometime around the 16th century but that one disappeared. So to commemorate the lost one, they put a new one in the 1970s. The monkey is supposed to be holding a mirror but it’s covered in rust–I definitely had no idea what that was when I first saw it. There might be more to this story but the details I found online seem to be rather contradictory so I’ll just leave it at that.
We crossed the bridge and headed up the “Philosophenweg”–aka the Philosopher’s Walk, a path that climbs up the hill on the other side of the river and offers spectacular views of the Old Town and castle across the way. Legend has it that philosophers and university professors used to walk along this path and I suppose ponder philosophical questions, such as what is the meaning of life and such, no doubt inspired by the beautiful scenery. We didn’t have time to climb to the summit, but farther up the hill you can see ruins of an 11th century monastery, an amphitheater dating from the Nazi era, and apparently the remains of a “Celtic hill fort.” However we were able to bask in the views of the picturesque Old Town and take advantage of the gorgeous day.
We had awhile before we had to catch our train to Munich, so we went to visit the old student jail, formerly used by the University of Heidelberg between 1788 and 1914. Depending on the offense, students could be incarcerated just a few days or could be locked up several months. “Student duels” and “thefts” were among some of the offenses; however some more mischievous students also apparently stole neighboring farm animals such as pigs or chickens and then released them on school property. A visit to the slammer eventually became a university rite of passage. The incarcerated students obviously had a lot of free time on their hands; hence the walls of the former jail, in the cells and up the stairs leading to it are COVERED by graffiti. Troublemakers leaving their mark, “honoring” their stay in the jail. Sidenote: if any of you can read German, feel free to translate the graffiti in the comments. Unfortunately, German is not a language I have any knowledge about, apart from Guten tag and danke schon.
Since it was so beautiful that day, we decided to go back to the castle and stroll around the gardens, since our time had been cut short by the rain the previous day. A lot of these pictures are the same as in my previous post; but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to photograph the castle and the view with crystal clear blue sky. And of course, I need to share them.
And I leave you with a final token of Heidelberg: a delicious apple strudel (at least I think that’s what it is. German food on the whole was positively delicious).
Up next: Munich!