Germany’s oldest and most famous university town is renowned for its baroque old town, lively university atmosphere, excellent pubs and evocative half-ruined castle, which draw 3½ million visitors a year. They are following in the footsteps of the late 18th- and early 19th-century romantics, most notably the poet Goethe. Britain’s William Turner also loved Heidelberg, which inspired him to paint some of his greatest landscapes.
Less-starry eyed was Mark Twain, who in 1878 began his European travels with a three-month stay in Heidelberg, recounting his bemused observations in A Tramp Abroad. For some deliciously acerbic excerpts from his writing, see www.mark-twain-in-heidelberg.de.
Heidelberg’s Altstadt has a red-roofed townscape of remarkable architectural unity. After having been all but destroyed by French troops under Louis XIV (1690s), it was built pretty much from scratch during the 18th century. Unlike the vast majority of German cities, it emerged from WWII almost unscathed. Today, Heidelberg is one of Germany’s most romantic cities – and the romance builds the longer you stay: the more you wander around, the more unexpected beauty and heartstopping panoramas you’ll discover.