July 21: Historic Heidelberg, Germany; Reichenstein Castle Dinner
First, a few notes of background:
Heidelberg is the place where the earliest evidence of human life in Europe was discovered. The Heidelberg Man’s jaw is dated 600,000 to 200,000 years ago.
Heidelberg traces its beginnings to the town of Bergheim, 769 AD, which now lies in the middle of the city. Parenthetically, we built a log cabin in 1973 in the Pocono Mountains which we call Bergheim (mountain home).
This town figured prominently in the Protestant Reformation. It was the place where Martin Luther first defended his 95 theses in 1518; following this disputation,the Edict of Worms, 1521 was temporarily lifted , allowing Protestantism to expand.
Lutheran Elector Frederick III commissioned the composition of the “Catechism of Christian Instruction….”, the Heidelberg Catechism, a confessional document of the Reformed tradition to this day.
Ursinus College, my Alma Mater, was named after Zacharias Baer (Ursus, in Latin), commonly regarded as the principal author of the Heidleberg Catechism.
But, I digress.
Docking in Speyer am Rhine we took a coach to the university town of Heidelberg, straddling the Neckar River. We walked partway up the hill to visit Germany’s finest Gothic-Renaissance castle, the Heidelberger Schloss.
Follow the construction of the castle from its beginnings in the 13th century here: . Frederick IV must have loved wine, as there is a huge wine cask within the castle.
The Jesuit Church is just a few meters away, to the left above.
The nearby Knight’s House(1592), now a hotel, owes its name to the bust of St George in knight’s costume on the scrolled pediment. It is the only house from the end of the Renaissance to have survived the devastations of 1689-1693.
One frequently visited tourist attraction is the Brückenaffe or the Bridge Monkey of Heidelberg. Located on the west end of the Bridge Gate, Heidelberg’s Bridge Monkey is a bronze sculpture by Professor Gernot Rumpf which was installed there in 1979, replacing one lost in the late 17th century. The Heidelberg Monkey holds a mirror up to those who look at it. According to one legend surrounding this curious statue, the Bridge Monkey is intended as a symbolic reminder to Heidelberg’s citizens that neither the city-dwellers nor the people who lived outside the city of Heidelberg were better than the other, and that they should look over their shoulder as they cross the bridge to remember this. The monkey’s head is made to be photographed as a mask.
Views of bridge gate and river Neckar.
On the way to our rendezvous point in the Markt Platz, we cooled off with an ice cream cone in the shade. Walking over the cobble stones is something of a challenge and we happened to notice four bronze stone replacements each commemorating a person from Heidelberg lost to the Holocaust.
We return to the ship for lunch and a cruise through the Rhine River Valley on our way to our night’s mooring at Bingen and a German-themed supper at Reichenstein Castle. Our evening dining experience included Rollmöps and potato dumplings in a hall overlooking the Rhine.
Our family and travel partners.