Heidelberg is a town on the Neckar River in southwestern Germany. It’s known for venerable Heidelberg University, founded in the 14th century. Gothic Heiliggeistkirche church towers over the cafe-lined Marktplatz, a town square in the Altstadt. The red-sandstone ruins of Heidelberg Castle, a noted example of Renaissance architecture, stand on Königstuhl hill.
Visitors can ride the Bergbahn funicular to reach Heidelberg Castle and its gardens, which have sweeping views over the river and the baroque Altstadt. At night, the thriving student community fills beer gardens and traditional dark-wood taverns. Rowdy students were once confined in the university’s Studentenkarzer (Student Jail), and its cell walls remain etched with historic graffiti. The 18th-century Alte Brücke across the river has a medieval gate, and visitors touch its monkey statue to ensure a return to the city. Across the river, the mountainside Philosophers’ Way leads to 12th-century Neuburg Abbey.