Enjoying an idyllic location in a wooded valley by the River
Neckar, Heidelberg boasts one of the longest and richest histories
of all German cities. In 1907 the remains of 'Heidelberg Man' were
declared to be the oldest ever discovered in Europe, being at least
200,000 years old. Heidelberg developed largely as the capital of
the Palatinate - a position it held for more than five hundred
years. During this time a vast wealth and influence became apparent
in the city. The castle was built to strengthen Heidelberg's
defences, and its world-famous university was established and
garnered an impressive reputation.
In the 16th century the city was sacked twice by French troops;
the castle was damaged and left to decay as the Palatinate capital
was moved to Mannheim. Having lost its position of
prominence, Heidelberg was largely forgotten by the time the
Romantics discovered it in the late 17th century. To these people,
the wistful ruins of the castle only added to Heidelberg's charm.
The city soon became the place for poets, writers and artists to be
found, and it saw a massive increase in tourism as a result.
Steps were soon taken to preserve the magnificent,
historic Old Town, which has remained undisturbed to this day - it
even avoided damage in the Second World War. Having been admired by
tourists for centuries now, Heidelberg is one of Europe's