Going on a Heidelberg trip will take you to Germany’s oldest and arguably most famous university town renowed for its baroque old town, as well as a very lively university atmosphere fueled by excellent pubs and an evocative half-ruined castle.
The students are following in the footsteps of many late 18th– and early 19th-century romantics, most notably the poet Goethe. The British painter William Turner also loved Heildelberg, which inspired him to create some of his greatest landscapes.
Those aren’t the only great names linked to this town, Mark Twain started his European travels in 1878 with a three-month stay in Heidelberg, who recounted his rather bemused observation in ‘A Tramp Abroad’.
The Heidelberg Altstadt features a red-roofed townscape benefiting from a surprising amount of architectural unity. This is due to a less-than happy event in the town’s history. The entire place was almost destroyed by French troops under the leadership of Louis XIV, during the 1690s, and then it was built pretty much from the ground up during the 18th century.
On the other hand, as opposed to most other major German cities, Heidelberg emerged from WWII almost unscathed, this being the reason for its still surviving 18th century architecture. This is why the town is one of the country’s most romantic cities, a sense which builds the longer you stay, the more you wander and the more unexpected and heart-stopping panorama you discover.
In such an old town, you can bet there are many things to look at, some hidden, some not-so hidden, but the Brass Monkey is one of those widely-known secrets. Located on the Altstadt, at the entrance to the bridge side, there’s a statue of a Brass Monkey holding a mirror and surrounded by mice, quite a weird sight but it has a particular symbolism. One touches the mirror for wealth, the outstretched fingers to make sure you return to Heidelberg and the mice to ensure that you have lots of children.