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Heidelberg is a city in Baden-W√ľrttembergmarker, Germanymarker. As of 2008, over 145,000 people (about 10% of which are US citizens) live within the city's area. Heidelberg is a unitary authority. The Rhein-Neckar-Kreismarker rural district surrounds and has its seat in the city, but the city itself does not form a part of it.

Heidelberg lies on the river Neckarmarker at the point where it leaves its narrow, steep valley in the Odenwaldmarker to flow into the Rhine valley where, northwest of Heidelberg, it joins the river Rhinemarker at Mannheimmarker. Heidelberg is part of a densely populated region known as the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region.


Approximately 1,000,000 years ago, the "Heidelberg Man", whose jaw-bone was discovered in 1907, the earliest evidence of human life in Europe, died at nearby Mauermarker.

In the 5th century BC there was a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of worship on the Heiligenberg, or "Mountain of Saints". Both places can still be identified.

In 40 AD a fort was built and occupied by the 24th Roman cohort and the 2nd Cyrenaican cohort (CCG XXIIII and CCH II CYR). The Romans built and maintained castra (permanent camps) and a signalling tower on the bank of the Neckarmarker and built a bridge with wooden top on stone pillars across the river Neckar. The first civilian settlements would develop under the protection of the camp. The Romans remained until 260 AD, when the camp was conquered by German tribes.

Modern Heidelberg can trace its beginnings to the 5th century when the village Bergheim ("Mountain Home") is first mentioned in documents dated to 769 AD. Bergheim now lies in the middle of modern Heidelberg.

In 863 AD the monastery of St. Michael was founded on the Heiligenberg inside the double rampart of the Celtic fortress, and around 1130 the Neuberg Monastery was founded in the Neckarmarker valley. At the same time the bishopric of Wormsmarker extended its influence into the valley, founding Schönau Abbeymarker in 1142. Modern Heidelberg can trace its roots to this monastery.

In 1155, Heidelberg castle and its neighbouring settlement are taken over by the house of Hohenstaufen, and Conrad of Hohenstaufen becomes "Count Palatine of the Rhine" ( ).

In 1195, the Palatinate passed to the House of Welf through marriage.

The first reference to Heidelberg can be found in a document in Schönau Abbeymarker dated to 1196. This is considered the founding date for Heidelberg.

In 1225, Louis I, Duke of Bavaria obtained the Palatinate, and thus also the castle, which is mentioned in a document.

In 1303, two castles are mentioned; the one located further up the mountain was destroyed in a gunpowder explosion in 1537. The palace of today was then built at the site of the lower castle.In 1356, the Counts Palatine were granted far-reaching rights in the Golden Bull in addition to becoming Electors.

In 1386, the University of Heidelbergmarker was founded by Rupert I, Elector Palatine. The University played a leading part in the era of humanism and reformation and the conflict between Lutheranism and Calvinism in the 15th and 16th centuries. Heidelberg's library, founded in 1421, is the oldest public library in Germany still intact. A few months after the proclamation of the 95 theses, in April 1518, Martin Luther was received in Heidelberg, to defend them.

The siege of Heidelberg 1622
In 1620, the royal crown of Bohemia was offered to the Elector, Frederick V (married to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of James VI of Scotland). He became known as the "winter king", as he only reigned for one winter until the Imperial house of Habsburg regained the crown by force. This marked the beginning of the Thirty Years' War.

In 1622, after a siege of two months, the armies of the Catholic League, commanded by Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly, captured Heidelberg. He gave the famous Bibliotheca Palatina from the Church of the Holy Ghost to the Pope as a present. The Catholic, Bavarian branch of the house of Wittelsbach gained control over the Palatinate and the title of Prince-Elector. In 1648, at the end of the war, Frederick V's son Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine, was able to recover his titles and lands.

In order to strengthen his dynastic power, he married his daughter Liselotte to Philip I, Duke of Orléans, the brother of Louis XIV, king of France. In 1685, after the death of Charles Louis' son Elector Charles II, Louis XIV laid claim to his sister in law's inheritance. The claim was rejected, and war ensued. In 1689, city and castle were both taken by French troops, who brought about an almost total destruction in 1693.

In 1720, religious conflicts with the citizens of Heidelberg caused the Prince-Elector Charles III Philip to transfer his residence to nearby Mannheimmarker, where it remained until the Elector Charles Theodore became Elector of Bavaria in 1777 and established his court in Munichmarker.

In 1742, Elector Charles Theodore began rebuilding the Palace. In 1764, a lightning bolt destroyed other palace buildings during reconstruction, causing the work to be discontinued.Heidelberg fell to the Grand Duchy of Badenmarker in the year 1803. Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden re-founded the University, named "Ruperto-Carola" after its two founders. Notable scholars soon earned it a reputation as a "royal residence of the intellect".

In 1810, the French revolution-emigrant Count Charles Graimberg began with the preservation of the palace ruins and the establishment of a historical collection.

In the 18th century, the city was rebuilt in Baroque style on the old Gothic layout.

In 1815, the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia formed the "Holy Alliance" in Heidelberg.

In 1848, it was decided to have a German National Assembly in Heidelberg. In 1849, during the Palatinate-Baden rebellion, Heidelberg was the headquarters of a revolutionary army which was defeated by a Prussian army near Waghaeusel. Until 1850, the city was occupied by Prussian troops.

Between 1920 and 1933, the University of Heidelberg's reputation was enhanced by a number of notable physicians (Czerny, Erb, Krehl) and humanists (Rohde, Weber, Gundolf).

Nazi and post-war era

During the Nazi regime (1933‚Äď1945), Heidelberg was a stronghold of the NSDAP, which was the strongest party in the elections before 1933. The NSDAP received approximately 50% of the votes in the last free elections before WWII.

Non-Aryan university staff were discriminated against, and by 1939, the University had "lost" one third of its staff due to racial and political reasons.

During the Kristallnacht on 9 November 1938, Nazis burned down synagogues at two locations in the city. The next day systematic deportation of Jews started, and 150 Jews were sent to the Dachau concentration campmarker. On 22 October 1940 during the "Wagner Buerckel event", 6000 local Jews, including 280 from Heidelberg, were deported to a concentration camp in France, Camp Gursmarker.

Between 1934 and 1935, the Reichsarbeitsdienst (State labor service) and enthusiastic University of Heidelberg students built a huge amphitheatre, called "Thingstätte", located on the Heiligenberg north of the old part of Heidelberg for Nazi (NSDAP) and SSmarker events. A few months later, the inauguration for a huge memorial cemetery (Ehrenfriedhof) completed the second and last NSDAP project in Heidelberg. This cemetery is located on the southern side of the old part of town, a little south of the Königstuhl hilltop. During WWII and after Wehrmacht soldiers were also buried on the premises. The U.S. Army used the "Thingsstätte" for cultural and religious events starting in the late 1940s and civilian use started in the early to mid 1980s for occasional concerts and other cultural events. Today, especially the celebrations on "Hexennacht" (Witches' Night, also called Walpurgis Night), the night from 30 April to 1 May, are a regular "underground" fixture at the Thingstätte. Thousands of mostly young people spontaneously congregate there to drum, to fire breathe and to juggle. The event has gained fame throughout the region, as well as a certain notoriety due to the amount of rubbish left behind.

On 29 March 1945, the Wehrmacht left the city after destroying three arches of the old bridge, Heidelberg's treasured river crossing, as well as the other more modern bridge crossing a little further downstream. The blown up bridges proved no obstacle for the U.S. Army forces (3rd Infantry, 7th Army), which entered Heidelberg on 30 March 1945. Heidelberg was handed over without any resistance by the civilian population.

It has been theorized by some that Heidelberg escaped bombing in the Second World War because the U.S. Army wanted to use the city as a garrison after the war. In fact, as Heidelberg was neither an industrial center nor a transport hub, there was felt to be nothing worth bombing in Heidelberg. Being an old renowned university town probably contributed as well, as other such towns like T√ľbingenmarker and G√∂ttingenmarker were spared as well. Instead, allied air raids focused extensively on the nearby industrial cities of Mannheimmarker and Ludwigshafenmarker.

It's more likely Heidelberg was chosen by the U.S. Army due to its excellent infrastructure, state-of-the-art Autobahn (Freeway) Heidelberg-Mannheim, connecting to the Autobahn Mannheim-Darmstadt-Frankfurt and the U.S. Army installations in Mannheimmarker and Frankfurtmarker. The still intact railroad infrastructure was even more important in the late 1940s and early 1950s, since most heavy loads were still shuttled by train, not by truck. Additionally, Heidelberg offered the untouched "Grossdeutschland Kaserne" Wehrmacht installation, which became the Campbell Barracks soon after.

In 1945, the University re-opened at the initiative of surgeon Karl Heinrich Bauer and philosopher Karl Jaspers.

On 9 December 1945, US Army General George S. Patton had a car accident in the adjacent city of Mannheim and died in the Heidelberg US Army hospital on 21 December 1945. The funeral ceremony was held at the Heidelberg-Weststadt Christ Church (Christuskirche) and he was later buried at the 3rd Army cemetery in Luxembourgmarker. [7609]



Heidelberg experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb).

Historical sites

The old town

The old town ( ), located at the southern side of the Neckarmarker, is long and narrow and is dominated by the ruins of the Heidelberg Castlemarker which perches 80 metres above the Neckar on the steep, wooded side of the K√∂nigstuhlmarker ( ) hill.The Karls¬īgate (Karlstor) is a triumphal arch in honour of the Prince Elector Karl Theodor, located at Heidelberg's very east. It was erected from 1775 until 1781 and designed by Nicolas de Pigage.The house "Zum Ritter Sankt Georg" (Knight St. George) is one of the few buildings to survive the War of Succession. Standing across from the Church of the Holy Spirit, it was built in the style of the late Renaissance. It is named after the sculpture at the top.

The "Marstall" was an arsenal of the Heidelberg Castle in which several different goods were stored. The 19th century building we see today was created in a neo-classical style. Since 1971, the "Marstall" has housed lecture halls of the university.

The old bridge is a stone bridge which was erected from 1786 to 1788. There is a medieval bridge gate on the side of the old town, originally part of its town wall. Baroque tower helmets were added as part of the erection of the stone bridge in 1788.

Heidelberg Castle

The castle is a mix of styles from Gothic to Renaissance.Prince Elector Ruprecht III (1398‚Äď1410) erected the first representative building in the inner courtyard as a regal residence. The building was divided into a ground floor made of stone and framework upper levels. Another regal building is located opposite to the Ruprecht Building: The Fountain Hall. Prince Elector Philipp (1476‚Äď1508) is said to have arranged the transfer of the hall's columns from a decayed palace of Charlemagne to Heidelberg.

In the 16th and 17th century the Prince Electors added two representative palace buildings and turned the fortress into a castle. The two dominant buildings at the eastern and northern side of the courtyard were erected during the rule of Ottheinrich (1556‚Äď1559) and Friedrich IV (1583‚Äď1610). Under Friedrich V (1613‚Äď1619), the main building of the westside was erected, the so called "English Building".

The castle and its garden were destroyed several times (during the 30 Years' War and the Palatine War of Succession). When Prince Elector Karl Theodor who resided in Schwetzingen tried to restore the castle, lightning struck the Castle in 1764 and ended all attempts at rebuilding. Later on, the castle was misused as a quarry - castle stones helped to build new houses in Heidelberg. This was stopped in 1800 by Count Charles de Graimberg who made any effort he could to preserve the Heidelberg Castle. In spite of its Gothic interior, it was not before 1934, that the King's Hall was added.

Today, the hall is used for festivities, e.g. dinner banquets, balls and theatre performances. During the Heidelberg Castle Festival in the summer, the courtyard is the site of open air musicals, operas, theatre performances and classical concerts performed by the Heidelberg Philharmonics.

The castle is surrounded by a park where the famous poet Johann von Goethe once walked. The Heidelberger Bergbahnmarker funicular railway runs from Heidelberg's Kornmakt to the summit of the Königstuhl via the castle.

[[File:View on the old Heidelberg.jpg|thumb|center|650px|View from the so called "Philosophers' Walk"( ) towards the Old Town, with Heidelberg Castlemarker, Heiliggeist Churchmarker and the Old Bridge.]]

Philosophers' Walk

On the northern side of the Neckarmarker, the Heiligenberg with the remains of the celtic fortress and the Philosophers' Walk ( ) is located. This Walk derives its name from the fact that Heidelberg's philosophers and university teachers are said to have once walked and talked here. It shows excellent views of the old town and castle.

University of Heidelberg

Old university hall
Heidelberg is home to one of Europe's oldest educational institutes, the Ruprecht Karls University founded in 1386, more commonly known as the University of Heidelbergmarker. Among the prominent thinkers associated with the university over the centuries are Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Jaspers, Hans-Georg Gadamer, J√ľrgen Habermas, Karl-Otto Apel and Hannah Arendt. Karl Drais, who invented the bicycle in 1817, was a student there. At the University of Heidelberg, chemists Posselt and Reimann discovered that nicotine was the main pharmacologically active component of tobacco. In 1860, Robert Bunsen and Kirchhoff discovered spectrum analysis here. Despite this long legacy of academic excellence, the University of Heidelberg was the first to expel all its Jewish professors and students when the Nazis rose to power.

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory, European Molecular Biology Organization, the German Cancer Research Center,Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Institute for Astronomymarker, Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physicsmarker, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, and Botanischer Garten der Universität Heidelbergmarker (university botanical garden) are located in Heidelberg.

Notable alumni

Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, Otto Meyerhof, Wolfgang Ketterle, Georg Wittig and Carl Bosch (all except Robert Bunsen were winners of the Nobel prize).

Heidelberg churches

Church of the Holy Spirit:This church is shared between Protestant and Catholics and is one of the few buildings in Heidelberg to survive the many wars during the past centuries, being rebuilt after the French set fire to it in 1709 during the War of the Palatinian Succession. The church also has remains of the tombs and epitaphs of the past Palatinate electors. This Church stands reverently in the Marktplatz. In 1720, Karl III Philip, Elector Palatine came into conflict with the town's Protestants as a result of fully handing over the Church of the Holy Spirit to the Catholics (it had previously been split by a partition and used by both congregations). Prince Karl III Philip gave way, due to pressure for Prussia, Holland, and Sweden and repartitioned the wall. In 1936 the separating wall was removed and the church is now exclusively Protestant.

Church of the Jesuit's:Construction of the Church of the Jesuit's (Catholic) began in 1712, and was only completed with the addition of a Bell tower from 1866 - 1872. The church is also home to the Museum f√ľr sakrale Kunst und Liturgie or Museum of Ecclesiastical Arts.

Providence Church:This church (Protestant Evangelical) was built from 1659 to 1661. The Prince Elector of the Palatinate Karl Ludwig also gave it its name, which means ‚ÄúGod will ensure.‚ÄĚ The church was destroyed in 1693 from war, but was rebuilt in 1700. The north tower was added in 1717, and in the late 1800‚Äôs, the interior was redecorated in a neo-renaissance style. The oldest organ in Heidelberg was also built in this church by organ builder Matthias Burkard.

St. Peter's Church:St. Peter's Church (Lutheran) is the oldest church in Heidelberg, and was built sometime during the 12th century, although there is no exact documentation as to when.

Church of the Redeemer:The "Erloeserkirche" is a former Dominican Convent chapel, completed in 1724. Between the mid 19th century and 1914 it was used for worship by the English community in Heidelberg. In 1936 it became the parish church of the Old Catholics, who since 1971 have shared it with an Anglican congregation.

Romanticism of Heidelberg

Heidelberg was the center of the epoch of "Romantik" (Romanticism) in Germany. There was a famous circle of poets such as Joseph von Eichendorff, Joseph von Görres, Arnim, and Clemens Brentano. A famous relic of Romanticism is the Philosophers' Walk ( ), a scenic walking path on the nearby Heiligenberg, overlooking Heidelberg.

The "Romantik" epoch of German philosophy and literature, was described as a movement against classical and realistic theories of literature, an antipole to the rationality of the Age of Enlightenment. It elevated medievalism and elements of art and narrative perceived to be from the medieval period as well as folk art, nature and an epistemology based on nature, which included human activity conditioned by nature in the form of language, custom and usage.

City districts

City districts of Heidelberg
Heidelberg consists of fourteen districts which are distributed in six sectors of the city. In the central area of the city are Altstadt, Bergheimmarker, and Weststadt. In north Heidelberg are Neuenheim and Handschuhsheim. In the east are Ziegelhausenmarker and Schlierbach. In the south are S√ľdstadtmarker, Rohrbach, Emmertsgrund, and Boxberg and in the southwest is Kirchheim. In the west are Bahnstadt, Pfaffengrund, and Wieblingen.

A new city district, tentatively named "Bahnstadt", is planned on land located within Weststadt and Wieblingen. The new district will have approximately 5,000-6,000 residents and employment for 7,000.



In 2004, 81.8% of all people worked for service industries, including tourism. As a relic of the period of Romanticism, Heidelberg has been labeled a romantic town. This is used to attract more than 3.5 million visitors every year. Many events are organized to increase the attraction. In spring, the "Heidelberger Fr√ľhling" Classic Music Festival and the international easter egg market are conducted.In July and August there is a "Heidelberger Castle Festival" (Student Prince and others)On the first Saturday in June and September, and the 2nd Saturday in July ‚Äď the castle and the old bridge are illuminated with lights and fireworks.The old town autumn festival in September includes a Medieval Market with 40 booths, an arts and crafts market, a flea market and music from Samba to Rock.During advent there is a Christmas market throughout the oldest part of the city. A famous chocolate is called Heidelberger Studentenkuss (Heidelberg student kiss).

Heidelberg is located on five tourist roads: Märchenstrasse (Fairytale Road), Bergstraße, Bertha Benz Memorial Route, Castle Road, and Straße der Demokratie (Road of Democracy).


Only 18% of employment is provided by industry. Printing and publishing are important enterprises, a center of the IT industry is nearby Walldorfmarker and its' SAP World Headquarter. Heidelberg with its long Hauptstrasse is a shopping magnet for the surrounding smaller towns.Noted pen manufacturer Lamy has its headquarters and its factory in Heidelberg-Wieblingen. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen has its headquarters there but its factory is loctated in Walldorf. Soft-drink company Wild-Werke, manufacturer of the Capri-Sonne (Capri-Sun in the U.S.) is located in Heidelberg-Kirchheim.

United States military installations

After World War II, Heidelberg was one of the few major cities in Germany not significantly damaged by Allied bombing. Situated in the American Zone of Germany, Heidelberg became the headquarters of the American forces in Europe. Several military installations remain, including Campbell Barracks (the former Wehrmacht Grossdeutschland-Kaserne) which is where headquarters for several units are located. including United States Army, Europe (USAREUR) and NATOmarker's Component Command-Land Headquarters (Until 2004, designated Joint Headquarters Centre, and before that, LANDCENT). Campbell Barracks and Mark Twain Villagemarker are both in S√ľdstadt; Patton Barracks is in nearby Kirchheim. Nachrichten Kaserne in Rohrbach is home to the former Heidelberg Army Hospital, now designated the Heidelberg Health Center. Patrick-Henry-Village, the largest U.S. military housing area in the Heidelberg area, is located west of Kirchheim. These installations, including Tompkins Barracks and Kilbourne Kaserne in nearby Schwetzingen, plus the Germersheim Depot, make up U.S. Army Garrison Heidelberg. ( Link to the U.S. Army Garrison Web site).Tompkins Barracks is home to U.S. Army Installation Management Command Europe Region. The Heidelberg U.S. Army Air Field (Heidelberg AAF) has been converted to an heliport (mostly Blackhawk Helicopters) after the NATO Kosovo campaign.

The children of the Department of Defense employees based in Heidelberg tend to attend US Army operated schools on site rather than being integrated into German schools, one of them being Heidelberg Middle School. All told, there are currently four schools of this kind in Heidelberg. This means that most have very little contact with local children or the population in general, even more so since 2002 when most installations and Barracks have been fenced and access is now US Army staff and their families only.

The much enjoyed fair that was held for decades at Patrick-Henry-Village has been canceled since the stepped up security following 9/11.

On 19 October 2009 the U.S. Army announced that it will be building a new headquarter for USAREUR in Wiesbadenmarker. When the move from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden will take place is not yet clear. The new building is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012.


  • February: "Ball der Vampire" (Ball of the Vampires) Celebrates Fasching (the German equivalent of Mardis Gras or Carnival) with a giant vampire-themed costume party at the local castle or city hall
  • March/April: "Heidelberger Fr√ľhling" Classic Music Festival
  • April: Half marathon - last weekend
  • May: Fr√ľhlingsmesse on the Messplatz
  • June, July and September: Heidelberger Schlossbeleuchtung fireworks display on philosophy's way, the old bridge crossing the river Neckar below the castle and the castle itself. The 1st Saturday of June and September and the second Saturday of July are the annual dates.
  • September, each last Saturday: "Old Town Autumn Festival".
  • October/November: Heidelberger Theater Days, "Enjoy Jazz", Stepdance -Festival and Workshops
  • November: "International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg"


Heidelberg is one of the centres of German rugby, alongside Hannovermarker. In 2008-09, four out of nine clubs in the Rugby-Bundesliga are from Heidelberg, these being the RG Heidelberg, SC Neuenheim, Heidelberger RK and TSV Handschuhsheim.

International relations

Heidelberg maintains sister city relationships (Städtepartnerschaft) with the following cities:

Use in popular culture

Heidelberg is the home of a professional Quidditch team operating within the fictional Harry Potter universe. The Heidelberg Harriers have been described as ‚Äúfiercer than a dragon and twice as clever‚ÄĚ.


File:Karl Theodor, Statue, Heidelberg.JPG|Karl Theodor Statue on the Bridge.File:2007-09-01 Germany Heidelberg AlteBruecke Justitia.jpg|JustitiaFile:Heidelberg_Castle_and_Bridge.jpg|Heidelberg Castle and BridgeImage:Heidelberg_Fromcastle_hb.JPG|Heidelberg's old city centre from the castle aboveImage:Heidelberg_Castle_From_the_Bridge.jpg|Heidelberg Castle as seen from the bridgeImage:Inside_Heidelberg_Castle.jpg|Interior courtyard of the castleImage:Heidelberg Seitenstra√üe.jpg|The "Untere Stra√üe" (lower street), a typical side street in the Old TownImage:Heidelberg Jesuiten Kirche.jpg|Catholic JesuitenkircheImage:HD - Alte Br√ľcke - Tor.jpg|"Old Bridge" gate seen from the bridgeImage:Heidelberg bridge enterence.jpg|The "Old Bridge" gate seen from the townImage:Heidelberg Monkey.jpg|The "bridge monkey" next to the gateImage:Old_Bridge_in_Heidelberg.jpg|The "Old Bridge", seen from the townImage:Old_Bridge_From_Castle.jpg|The "Old Bridge", seen from the castleImage:Heidelberg_Bridge_Night.jpg|Heidelberg at nightImage:Heidelberg_20060420_021.jpg|HeiliggeistkirchemarkerImage:Heidelberg - University Library.jpg| University LibraryFile:Hotel Ritter - Heidelberg.JPG|Hotel Ritter, building constructed in 1592

See also


  • Steven P. Remy: The Heidelberg Myth: The Nazification and Denazification of a German University. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002. 329 P. ISBN 0-674-00933-9. (History about Spruchkammerverfahren-whitewashing in the proceedings before Dena. ..)

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