For centuries, Heidelberg’s romantic charm has attracted admirers from all over the world.
Built on the ruins of Celtic and Roman settlements, Heidelberg was the capital of the Palatinate until 1685. The massive castle is considered by many to be the most impressive in all of Germany. It was damaged during the Thirty Years' War and destroyed by the French in 1693. Its imposing structure is perched on the hillside above the old city.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the writers and painters who were drawn to Heidelberg to marvel at this remarkable combination of natural scenery and historical architecture helped launch the German Romantic Movement.
Modern Heidelberg continues to attract many visitors and is known for its sidewalk cafés and student pubs and for the friendly, relaxed approach to life of the typical Heidelberger. During the summer, the castle courtyard is used for outdoor concerts and opera productions. Ship tours leave regularly to explore the castles along the Neckar valley. There is a re-creation of the burning and destruction of the castle three times each summer along with fireworks. In December, both the squares in the old town and the castle gardens are host to the colorful Weihnachtsmarkt. Museums, theaters, jazz clubs, poetry slams, and sporting events all attest to the vibrant cultural life of the city.
With more than 140,000 inhabitants, Heidelberg is large enough to have a lively cultural scene and yet small enough not to be overwhelming.