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History of Heidelberg

Home to Germany's oldest university, Heidelberg lies on the river Neckar, nestled in a landscape of thickly wooded rolling hills. The magnificent ruins of the thirteenth century neo-gothic castle above the town add to the fairy-tale setting that has inspired composers, poets and painters over the centuries. Writers Goethe and Mark Twain, the painter Turner and composers Schumann and Brahms have been captivated by Heidelberg's matchless landscape and culture.

The University of Heidelberg was founded in 1386 and is the oldest German-speaking university after those in Prague and Vienna. It became a bulwark of the Reformation in the 16th century, declined after the Thirty Years War (1618–1648), and, recovering after the French Revolutionary Wars, became the leading university of 19th-century Germany. The university's professors have included noted theologians, the chemist R. W. Bunsen, and the sociologist Max Weber.

Since 1952 the city has been the headquarters of the U.S. army in Europe. There are more than a dozen museums, five theatres, a Philharmonic and a Symphony Orchestra. In recent years Heidelberg has been at the international forefront in the fields of environmental protection, genetic engineering, and information technology.

Quick Facts

Population 139,941

Approximately 1 in 5 of the population are students - this brings an atmosphere of energy and excitement to Heidelberg.

Around 20,000 of the Heidelberg residents are non-German nationals, giving Heidelberg its well known cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Approximately 3.3 million visitors pass through Heidelberg every year. The majority of the non-German visitors are from the USA and Japan, although a reasonable number come from the UK, Switzerland and Italy.

For more information, visit e-Heidelberg.com

Page last modified October 21, 2009