The Old Bridge

By D. Godfrey

The Old Bridge, made of stone, followed in the foot steps of many wooden bridges which were knocked out regularly by storm and flood (the natural kind). On occasion whatever bridge was currently up, might also be destroyed by war, as was the case… at least for part of the most current stone bridge, at the near conclusion of the Second War when German soldiers decide to blow up one section of the bridge to prevent American soldiers from crossing into the city from the North, although everyone knew at the time that the soldiers were coming in from the West and had no natural barrier such as a river to hinder them from making it into the center of the city in record time.

Prince Elector Karl Theodore was the first rule to have constructed a stone bridge which was erected here from 1736 to 1788. On October 16, 1798, an Austrian regiment commanded by Prince Schwarzenberg succeded in repulsing the advancing French army. The West Tower contains dungeons; in contrast, the East Tower, simply provides a structure containing a spiral staircase.

After standing at the Old Bridge (or on it, as the case may be), it is time to once again check with your twenty-something legs about more walking. After all, the Philosophers’ Path is not far off, at least as the bird flies, although conditioned legs are really required for the hike up the 45% sloped hill on the other side of the Neckar River. It makes me tired just to think of the effort required just to get to the Path, not counting walking along it and philosophising like the old German Romanticists. Before making the attempt however, you may want to consult with the Old Bridge Ape (not the beholder), conveniently posted, and holding a mirror for your convenience, at the East Tower (or is it the West Tower). From my perspective, it is the South Tower, but a bridge can have only two ends so it is either the West or East Tower. There’s a story about this Ape, but I am not going to tell it here.

Whew, 75 minutes later, after a climb like you haven’t seen since you were sneaking into someone’s Apple orchard back home before the owners all had shot guns… you make it to the Philosophers Path.

Philospher’s Path

The “Philosophenweg” at the beginning of the Heiligenberg derives its name from the fact that Heidelberg’s philosophers and scholars are said to have once walked and talked here. The temperate climate is perfect for many sub-tropical plants, such as Japanese cherries, cypresses, lemons, bamboos, ginko and yucca trees.

So, you’ve now walked the entire length of the Philosphers’s Path from Neuenheim to the Hochgasse and you have some energy left for more?

We meander, wander or wobble back to the 45% sloped stairs, but this time we go down. We don’t need to count the steps, this time. Anyway, there are so many, that you are very likely to miscount one or two, because you will certainly be distracted by one amazing view of the Old Bridge and the City after another as you go down.
The intent of this web site is not to include advertising, so we expect you will not continue reading until you’ve had a chance to refresh…fill your tank so to speak. There are plenty of tanking places for replenishment. If you want a recommendation, just whisper… and I’ll give you a meaningful look as we pass a good place. After that is taken care of, we can visit a place students hang out during semester, when they’re in town.

Heidelberg CastleThe Neckar River