Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Heidelberg, Part the hot

I'm melting!

Today was a hot day. As I write this, it's 8:30 p.m. and the temperature has dipped to a cool 31C. Good thing we got most of our exercise in before noon. 

We were out of the apartment by 8:20 a.m., intent on hiking up the Heiligenberg, one of the hills overlooking Heidelberg.  The walk featured a stroll along the Philosophenweg (or philosophers' walk), where the city's early academics and philosophers would walk and talk. As we climbed, we came across several nice monuments and lookouts. 

View of the city from the Philosophenweg
But our goal was the historical monuments near the top. The first were the ruins of a small monastery (St. Stephen's), built in the 11th century, with much later tower alongside that was built partially from the ruins of the monastery. 

At the top were the ruins of another 11th century monastery, this one much larger – called St. Michael's – built on the site of a former Roman temple, the vestiges of which are still visible. There are also apparently traces of old Celtic fortifications dating back much earlier than this even, but we couldn't find these. 

St. Michael's monastery
On the slope between the two monasteries is the Thingstätte, an open-air amphitheatre built by the Nazis as part of their short-lived Thingspiel movement. This site was opened in June 1935, and apparently Joseph Goebbels spoke at the inauguration. There was no effort to hide this site, but I found it interesting that there were signs for the monasteries but no directions pointing explicitly to the Thingstätte, and only a few signs explaining its history in German only, whereas other panels explained the area's history extensively in both German and English. One can only assume that this monument is not something the region is particularly proud of, especially given Heidelberg's history as a former Nazi stronghold. 

The Thingstätte
Anyway, it was all quite fascinating. We considered walking further around the hillside, but as it was already getting warm, we decided to head back down into the city. In retrospect, it might have been better had we stayed in the woods a little longer. 

Back in the Altstadt, we found the Heiliggeistkirche open and so wandered in and had a look around. We also noted that there would be an organ concert later that afternoon, which we attended. The program included Bach's Prelude and Fugue in C minor, a Mendelssohn organ sonata, and a work by the organist. It wasn't the concert of the century (and several of the organ ranks were quite out of tune with each other), but it was fun to hear Bach in a German church for the first time.

The lovely but somewhat spare interior of the Heiliggeistkirche
Then it was home for supper. Sonia tried to drag me out to do some shopping, but my viking blood is just not suited to this heat, so I'm staying inside where it's relatively cool and calm. 

It's a similar forecast for tomorrow, and we still haven't decided on what we'll do to beat the heat. 

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