Explore the Palatinate
Heidelberg is located within a very attractive area which can be discovered on many different excursions and activities. The"Burgenstrasse" (Castle Road) runs for just under a 1,000 kilometers from the Prince-Elector's residence city of Mannheim in the west to the "golden city" of Prague in the east. The route takes you through picture-book landscapes: picturesque cities, unique building monuments and imposing castles and fortresses mark the way. Through these historic locations a part of the past has survived, and they have a story to tell.
All the options normally found in a large modern city and the largest Baroque castle in Germany are found in nearby Mannheim. The city's most important landmark is the art nouveau Wasserturm (water tower) at the confluence of the Rhine and Neckar rivers. The city's many theaters, museums, galleries, and concert halls testify to the wide variety of cultural events offered in Mannheim.
Upstream along the Neckar River, the four significantly intact medieval tow of Neckargemünd, Neckarsteinach, Eberbach and Hirschhorn- dubbed "The Romantic Four" - are well worth a day's exploration (or longer if you are feeling particularly romantic).
In Neckargemünd, a stroll around town reveals excellent examples of half-timbered homes and the remnants of the 14th-century city wall. Part of Neckargemünd, the former fortress town of Dilsberg perches on a nearby hilltop. Much of the castle dates from the 12th century, and it is a step back in time to walk the narrow streets. The castle tower yields a commanding view across the Neckar River to the four castles of Neckarsteinach.
Eberbach still has its original form with four corner towers and an extensive medieval center. Thanks to its long history as a spa town, it also has an excellent variety of fine shops, hotels and restaurants. In Hirschhorn, half-timbered homes stand flush against and over the medieval town walls. Walk along the "Hauptstrasse" (Main Street), and wander down tiny alleys straying toward the Neckar.
Over 2,000 years old, the city of Speyer and its impressive architecture have figured prominently in German and European history. The imperial cathedral (Kaiserdom zu Speyer) is one of the largest and most important Romanesque structures in Europe and has been a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. The Gedächtniskirche der Protestat (Memorial Church of the Protestation) and the Judenhof (Jewish Courtyard) are also well worth visiting.
There is never a lack of charm and romantic allure in these four picturesque neighbors of Heidelberg. When almond and cherry trees are in bloom, the hillsides of the Odenwald region on the Bergstrasse (Mountain Road) take on a nearly Mediterranean quality. The site of former Roman settlements, Ladenburg and Weinheim, with its picturesque market square and enchanting castle park, are among the most attractive stops on a trip along the historic "Bergstrasse" (Mountain Road).
Martin Luther is very important to the history of Worms, as the world's largest Reformation monument emphasizes. The famous Dom St. Peter (St. Peter's Cathedral) is located at the highest point in the city center and ranks as one of the most magnificent churches dating from the Romanesque period. The sagas of the Nibelungen are also part of the city's history and the legendary tales are retold each year in staged performances.