Heidelberg

Four Jordans about to Descend

On an Unsuspecting German City

The day after our visit to Koblenz, we toured the famous university town of Heidelberg.  The city is located on the Neckar River some miles east of its confluence with the Rhine, so our tour group boarded buses for the short trip.

Our first stop was at the ruins of the magnificent Heidelberg Castle.  It is on a height overlooking the old town. The earliest castle structure was built there before 1214 and was later expanded to its present dimensions.  For years it served as the residence of the Elector Palatine, one of the ruling princes of the Holy Roman Empire.

Heidelberg Castle

Martin Luther preached there in 1518, and the Electors Palatine became firm adherents of the Protestant Reformation.

Our guide told an interesting story about how the young Elector Palatine, Frederick V, searched for a suitable Protestant bride and settled on Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of King James I of England (sponsor of the King James Bible).  Frederick and Elizabeth married in 1613 in what appears to have been a true love match.  Unfortunately, Frederick and Elizabeth had to flee to the Netherlands in 1620 because of the religious wars, and they spent the remainder of their lives in exile

It is even more interesting to note that, in 1714, following the death of Queen Anne, the last direct Stuart descendant, Elizabeth’s grandson George of Hanover succeeded to the British throne as King George I.

The Heidelberg Castle was heavily damaged during the Thirty Years War and subsequent conflicts, and later the troops of King Louis XIV of France deliberately blew up some of the structures before retiring to the west.  Restoration efforts have been only partially successful, but it remains an imposing structure.

In the afternoon we had the opportunity to dine at a Heidelberg restaurant, and we were joined by several Heidelberg University students who wished to practice their English skills.  None of them were native Germans.  The young man I talked to was originally from Istanbul, Turkey.  The conversation was interesting and the food was good.

Heidelberg University

Heidelberg University was established in 1386 and is the oldest university in Germany.  It remains as an important center of culture and learning and attracts students from around the world.  When I think of the university, I am reminded of Sigmund Romberg’s operetta The Student Prince, which was set in this place.  The story was also dramatized in a movie starring Ann Blyth and Edmund Purdom, released in 1954.

Granddaughter Audrey in Heidelberg

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