The holy mountain of Heidelberg


Heidelberg has long been famous for its beauty. In 1843 a guide book on Germany by John Murray explained that Heidelberg “is charmingly situated on the left bank of the Neckar, on a narrow ledge between the Neckar and the castle rock”. Today the soul of this charming old town is lost to the same chain stores which feed like zombies on old town centres in Europe. I walked away to the picturesque banks of the Neckar.

From Bismarckplatz I walked on to the Theodor-Heuss-Bruecke and saw low clouds drifting through the woods on the hill called the Heiligeberg (Holy Mountain). The wooded slopes of the mountain were not bare, as I found eventually when I struggled up the steep Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s Walk). Beautiful as this road turned out to be, the view of the hill from the bridge was more beautiful still, with the fog rolling over the picturesque buildings straggling up the hillside. The old city was rebuilt after it was repeatedly destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War. Many of the buildings date from the Baroque period. The right bank, ie, the buildings in the picture above, would have been built at about the same time.


Heidelberg felt cold this week. It did not snow, but the highest temperature stayed below 5 degrees, and the night dipped a little below freezing. As a result, when I woke up on my second morning there, I saw a dense fog over the river. Apparently this is a common occurrence in winter. The right bank was barely visible in the fog. All very picturesque, and to my mind, more atmospheric than it would have been in the clear light of summer.