Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Top 10 Heidelberg in route to Mannheim, Germany

1. Heidelberg is located in south-west Germany. It is the fifth largest city of the German State of Baden-Württemberg after Stuttgart, Mannheim, Karlsruhe and Freiburg im Breisgau.  It is situated along the Nektar River off in the distance you are looking at France. The US Army has had a military base in Heidelberg since 1951.

2. Heidelberg is home to Heidelberg University, noted for its prestigious law school and student prison(check out the youtube link). It has been said that students have purposely spent time there as an alternative to a final exam, if they felt they were not ready. Students are everywhere in this city. Founded in 1386, it is the oldest university in Germany and was the fourth university established in the Holy Roman Empire. In 2010, U.S. News / QS World University Rankings ranked Heidelberg 1st in Germany, 14th in Europe, and 51st overall in the world, moving up six places from its position in the 2009 THE-QS World University Rankings.

3. The Church of the Holy Spirit is first mentioned in a manuscript from 1239. In 1398, the foundations of the current late Gothic church were laid on the site of a late Romanesque basilica which, in turn, had been erected in the place of even an older church. The current church is the third sacral building on the site.

4. Breathtaking views can be seen from atop the hill from the Heidelberg Castle. The Old Town Bridge  built in the 18th century, dates back to the Middle Ages – the original wood structures were destroyed by fire. The old stone bridge was erected 1786-1788. A medieval bridge gate is on the side of the old town, and was originally part of the town wall. Baroque tower helmets were added as part of the erection of the stone bridge in 1788.

5. Heidelberg Castle is the famous landmark in Heidelberg.
 American author, Mark Twain,  described the Heidelberg Castle in his 1880 travel book
"A ruin must be rightly situated, to be effective. This one could not have been better placed. It stands upon a commanding elevation, it is buried in green woods, there is no level ground about it, but, on the contrary, there are wooded terraces upon terraces, and one looks down through shining leaves into profound chasms and abysses where twilight reigns and the sun cannot intrude. Nature knows how to garnish a ruin to get the best effect. One of these old towers is split down the middle, and one half has tumbled aside. It tumbled in such a way as to establish itself in a picturesque attitude. Then all it lacked was a fitting drapery, and Nature has furnished that; she has robed the rugged mass in flowers and verdure, and made it a charm to the eye. The standing half exposes its arched and cavernous rooms to you, like open, toothless mouths; there, too, the vines and flowers have done their work of grace. The rear portion of the tower has not been neglected, either, but is clothed with a clinging garment of polished ivy which hides the wounds and stains of time. Even the top is not left bare, but is crowned with a flourishing group of trees & shrubs. Misfortune has done for this old tower what it has done for the human character sometimes−improved it".

The Exploded Tower was blown apart in 1693 during the War of Palatinate Succession. It apparently held the gun powder for the castle. It is amazing how is just sits there stuck in the ground as it fell so many years ago.

6. The Student Prince a 1954 musical featured Philadelphia born Mario Lanza performing on the soundtrack, the actor in the lead role,  Edmund Purdom, mimed the songs. The Drinking Song Drink! Drink! Drink!  The Student Prince gives a peek at college life, not so uncommon in the United States. You may recognize the song. It is the story of a young Prince, Karl, from a small sub-kingdom of the German Empire near the turn of the 20th century. He is sent off to get a university education in Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg. His grandfather was one of a handful of petty kings within German and Austrian central Europe. Fictional Karlsburg was small but very proud of their nationhood and traditions.

7. Elizabeth of Bohemia (19 August 1596 – 13 February 1662) was the eldest daughter of James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, and Ireland, and Anne of Denmark. She married Frederick V, then Elector of the Palatinate in Germany, on 14 February 1613 and took up her place in the court at Heidelberg. Frederick was the leader of the association of Protestant princes in the Holy Roman Empire known as the Protestant Union, and Elizabeth was married to him in an effort to increase James ties to these princes. Despite this, the two were considered to be genuinely in love, and remained a romantic couple throughout the course of their marriage. Fredrick has this arch "Elizabeth's arch built in her honor and as a profession of his love for her. Elizabeth is buried in Westminster Abbey. It seems all royalty in Europe is related in one way or another.

8. This is a picture of the city of Mannheim where we spent the evening. Mannheim is the second-largest city in the Bundesland of Baden-Württemberg

9. Wasserturm (water tower) is the city's landmark.   The world’s first bicycle was built in Mannheim by Karl Freiherr von Drais in 1817. The world’s first automobile was built in Mannheim by Karl Benz in 1885. Mannheim is also the location of both the start and the finish of Bertha Benz Memorial Route. Since it was such a major industrial center, Mannheim was heavily damaged during World War II by aerial bombing by the R.A.F. and the U.S. Air Force. Besides bombing the important factories, the R.A.F. razed the city center of Mannheim with nighttime area bombing. Some sources state that the first deliberate "terror bombing" of German civilians by the R.A.F. occurred at Mannheim on December 16, 1940. Mannheim was overrun by the U.S. Third Army on March 29, 1945, and removed from the control of Nazi Germany.

10. This is how the Germans tuck you in at night.  I thought they were sleeping bags.  It is funny or should I say, different to experience the various customs of diverse countries.

Early morning in a typical neighborhood in Mannheim was quiet and serene.  Note the bicycle is not locked.  How many places in this world would you see that?

There have been many horrific tragedies that have occurred in this country, yet there are people and places to visit that hold much charm. When will we ever learn to appreciate all people as equal and significant; value each other and recognize our similarities rather then our differences. I did not visit any concentration camps but I did find a partial list of destructive Nazi detainment centers if you are interested. This is not something the German people are proud of. The sale, distribution and possession of anything which promotes or glorifies the NSDAP or the Nazi Regime is illegal in Germany. I am told that the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C. is a very educational and disturbing experience. When I was young, there was a candy store up the street from me, they also sold soda, milkshakes, comic books.  I was a frequent customer. I would purchase Archie and Modern Romance comic books, Tiger Beat Magazine and when I had the extra cash, I loved their milk shakes. I am not sure if the couple owned or rented the space.  Mr. Whishner was always suspicious when you entered his store always keeping and eye on you.  Mrs. Whishner was one of the kindest ladies I ever remember, always pleasant and welcoming.  In the warmer months, when they were not wearing long sleeves you could see the number tattooed on their arms.  My parents had told me, that indicated they had been in a Nazi concentration camp, being just a kid I never realized the trauma they must have gone through but I do remember seeing their branding.

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