Thursday, July 18, 2013

Memories of Old Heidelberg

Heidelberg Castle ruins
The writing prompt instructed me to choose three postcards that intrigue me. I sorted through my big box of postcards: some are filled with the travel memories of friends and family, and some memories are my own. I settled on a trio from Heidelberg, Germany.

A trio of postcards from Heidelberg

It has been almost five years since I was in Heidelberg with my sister.
The Great Tun     
It was one of the last stops we made on our German tour. We walked around the famous 15th- to 17th-century ruined castle, part of it only a facade wall, the Great Tun, a giant barrel which holds 58,000 US gallons of wine which reportedly had a direct line down to the city; and the Elisabethentor, an arched gateway built for a royal bride, and subject of one of my postcards.

The two other postcards take a step back to show the landscape. One, a borderless bird's eye view, shows the famous castle on the hill with the red-roofed old town below, and the Neckar River below that. A Roman-style arched viaduct transverses the river. A large tour boat has just passed under the bridge. Rising up from the old town is an enormous brown church. The second postcard, framed in black, shows Heidelberg Castle lit up at night with a light coating of snow.

A medieval section of the castle ruins

Heidelberg Castle is a hodgepodge of styles.
My camera was new and unfamiliar to me on that trip, but still my photographs reveal more of my sense of this place than my travel diary, and my little purchased travel guide fills in the history. There are the shots of the single facade wall with blue sky in the window openings. The castle was destroyed by the French Army during the War of the Grand Alliance (1689-93), and then further by lightning in 1764. Some of it was rebuilt, some not, so what results is a hodgepodge of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture.

The Elisabeth Gate

Frederick V
The Elisabethentor, or Elisabeth Gate, was commissioned by Frederick V, the "Winter King," for his bride Elisabeth Stuart. She was the daughter of the English king. Frederick was called the "Winter King" because his kingdom lasted only slightly longer than a winter, and he ultimately died in exile. All of this happened in the early 17th century.

View from Heidelberg Castle garden
The castle garden provides a great view of the old town which came into existence around 1200. We had some free time to walk around the town where we saw newlyweds emerging from the city hall underneath red heart-shaped balloons.
Just married.
The large brown church turned out to be the Gothic Church of the Holy Spirit, begun in 1398. Between its exterior buttresses are unexpected little shops which date back to the 15th century.
See the brown church in the center? That's the Gothic Church of the Holy Spirit, begun in the 14th century.

Close-up of the Church of the Holy Spirit's new (17th-century) roof.

This trip predates my current obsession with bridges,so I didn't go out of my way to shoot it,
Carl Theodor Bridge, to the left.
but I still noticed the striking arched bridge that links the old town with the other side of the Neckar River. Its full name is the Carl Theodor Bridge, and was named after Prince Elector Carl Theodor who had it built of red sandstone to replace a flimsy wooden one damaged in a flood. This construction stretched from 1786-1788. On March 29, 1945, German soldiers blew up all of the Neckar River bridges, but the Carl Theodor Bridge was rebuilt by 1947.

Waffeln mit Schokosauce
Heidelberg was the only place in Germany where I had to attempt to speak German. We stopped for lunch at a cafe, both interested in the waffles with chocolate sauce advertised on a board outside. The waitress did not speak English, so I carefully ordered the waffles and water without bubbles for both of us.

My Heidelberg postcards are about to be filed away in their box until the next time I'm prompted to flip through them. My memories, however, stay with me. I would like to visit Heidelberg again, this time spending more time at the castle (perhaps touring the inside), and visiting Heidelberg University and its library. I wouldn't mind another serving of those waffles, either!

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