Heidelberg, Germany during Christmas

 

The old part of Heidelberg, from the opposite hillside. The old castle is on the top left.

The old part of Heidelberg, from the opposite hillside. The old castle is on the top left.

Well, it seems like old news now, but Trae and I spent several days traveling through the western and northerly parts of Germany, celebrating Christmas in the lovely old town of Heidelberg. We're currently in Sweden (I'm writing this on a train to Stockholm.) (Yes, Swedish trains have free internet.), but I wanted to share some bits of the journey I haven't posted about yet.

The Neckar River runs through town, between cobblestone streets. 

The Neckar River runs through town, between cobblestone streets. 

Heidelberg was a great place to spend Christmas for many reasons, one of them being that there were beautiful places to walk around the old town when many other cultural sights were closed. The town itself shares a narrow valley with the Neckar River. Trae and I spent a chilly day walking up and around one side of the valley, through beautiful forests, stopping at stone monuments and old church ruins.

Our Christmas Eve hike. 

Our Christmas Eve hike. 

There were hundreds of chestnuts on the ground in the woods. 

There were hundreds of chestnuts on the ground in the woods. 

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Near the top of the hill, there is a large amphitheater called the Thingstätte, built by Heidelberg University (Germany's oldest university) students in 1935 and used for Nazi and SS rallies. It's chilling to think what was said and done there, and even more so because it's actually a beautiful spot. Parts of the amphitheater walls are burnt and you can see where images were rubbed off of doors. But there are no traces of Nazi symbolism anymore, just neat rows of stones that the forest is slowly reclaiming.

The Thingstätte had a stage which faced rows of stone seats. It could fit 8,000 people. 

The Thingstätte had a stage which faced rows of stone seats. It could fit 8,000 people. 

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Beer from the hotel brewery.

Beer from the hotel brewery.

Another part of Heidelberg we loved was the old town itself. Trae and I stayed in a beautiful old hotel near the river, which housed an excellent restaurant and a brewery.

The hotel restaurant, with a beautiful old mural on the wall of the old city. 

The hotel restaurant, with a beautiful old mural on the wall of the old city. 

On Christmas Day, we stepped inside one of the huge cathedrals and listened to the Christmas service in German. 

Christmas service at Jesuitenkirche.

Christmas service at Jesuitenkirche.

The best part about the church, though, was probably their nativity scene, which had Nelson Mandella in the middle, surrounded by drag queens, tightrope walkers, and protestors with signs demanding "Amnesty für Snowden!" Joseph was holding a pig and looked genuinely distraught, while Mary was off to one side with the baby on her shoulder.

Jesuitenkirche's nativity scene, which was built to raise money for a children's hospital. 

Jesuitenkirche's nativity scene, which was built to raise money for a children's hospital. 

Overall, it was a nice three days and a great spot to spend Christmas!

On one side of the Neckar River valley, facing the other.

On one side of the Neckar River valley, facing the other.