This Saturday me and my two flatmates decided to visit the city of Heidelberg. Its old city part impressed me in many ways with its romantic streets, old town, bookshops, stores, restaurants, and cafes as it impresses 11.8 million visitors every year, and I would definitely recommend it to visit.
Heidelberg is a university town in Baden-Württemberg located on the river Neckar in south-west Germany. First mentioned in 1196, Heidelberg was planned and built, together with the castle, in the 13th century. The population of it is 159,914 and a quarter of are students and scientists. Heidelberg University is Germany's oldest and one of the most reputable.
On our trip we strolled down the old town and visited some of the famous city sights:
On the top of Heidelberg hillside, you can find Heidelberg’s ruined Renaissance castle. First built in the 13th century, Heidelberg Palace was one of the most beautiful examples of Renaissance architecture before it was damaged by French troops in the 17th century, and set on fire by lightning strikes in the 18th century. You can reach it by foot or by Bergbahn (cogwheel train) that goes from Kornmarkt station. Once you arrive at the top, you will be amazed by the beautiful view over the Neckar River and the old town rooftops. You can take a walk in the castle's garden and if you buy the ticket you can also go check inside to see the enormous wine cask, the Grosses Fass, with a capacity of 221,726L (we decided not to). It attracts 1 million visitors a year and it was ranked second in the 2016 German Travel Board's top 100 sights in Germany.
Heidelberg is also home to the oldest university in Germany, and one of the oldest surviving universities in the world. The institution was established in 1386, and after 736 years it is still one of Germany's best universities, according to a recent ranking of the world's best universities.
Heidelberg's 200m long bridge, built in 1786, connects the old town with the river’s right bank, where is really nice to sit on the bench and enjoy the sunny weather and the Schlangenweg, whose switchbacks lead to the street Philosophenweg.
Philosophenweg (Philosopher’s walk)
It is one of the city’s famous paths because all professors and philosophers from the university who would stroll 2,5km down it from university and question themselves great questions of life. On this street, you can find bookshops, publishing houses and libraries around every corner (Heidelberg was also named UNESCO City of Literature in 2014).
Heidelberg and spark of fame
When I travel somewhere I love to check if somebody famous lived there or have visited. In this case, I was lucky because I discovered Heidelberg influenced some important figures in literature and painting. That was Germany's beloved writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (The Sorrows of Young Werther 1774), who stayed there in 1779, particularly enjoying drawing in Heidelberg Palace's gardens. William Turner, the influential British landscape artist, found Heidelberg worthy enough of his artistic talents. He painted several paintings of the city and its surroundings during his tour of Germany in the 1840s. Also, Mark Twain, American writer found inspiration for his book Huckleberry Finn in Heidelberg during the few months he stayed in the city in 1878.
What can Heidelberg offer to students or residents who want to become volunteers?
Many Heidelberg citizens volunteer in their free time in associations, ecological, social and cultural institutions or political initiatives. In Heidelberg, there is a diverse, developed and structured offer for volunteers. On the website Der Paritätische Freiwilligenagentur Heidelberg which is a cooperation partner of the city of Heidelberg and part of the municipal contact point for citizen engagement (https://paritaethd.wordpress.com/freiwillige/) you can find the online engagement database with around 300 voluntary activities http://www.lachnit-software.de/query/iframe/input-output.php?agid=38&styleid=1&frametyp=3 . There is a possibility to work with kids, the elderly, animals, disabled, women, migrant and many more. They also offer individual counseling for everybody who is not sure what kind of volunteering to participate in and related orientation course "Engaging - but how?" You can also participate in the Heidelberg Engagement Fair, the engagement walk in the district and the volunteer day "we create something". The agency has been carrying out pilot projects for around 15 years, often with other partners. These either focus on specific audiences, such as young people, people with a migrant background, people with disabilities, or tackle societal challenges such as demographic change or promote new forms of engagement, such as volunteering for all generations, or entrepreneurial civic engagement. Some of their interesting projects were:
2015 – 2017: Time for the new - volunteering by people in the post-employment phase "funded within the program" Together we are colorful; 2015 – 2017: different? - involved! as part of the Impulse Inclusion program; 2014 – 2016: Commitment needs leadership - Fit for club management; 2012 – 2014: Responsible Business Management in SMEs" - as part of the CSR - Social Responsibility in SMEs program; since 2012: Organization of the volunteer day "we-create-what" of the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region in Heidelberg. 2011-2012: Integration through Qualification" - advanced training program for migrant organizations and active members of associations together with the city Heidelberg and the One World Center. There is many more options and opportunities they are preparing and if you are interested you can check their website, but you can always visit them on the address Poststraße 11, 69115 Heidelberg to see how you can contribute to the city's wellbeing (maybe) even just for one day!