Thursday, June 13, 2013

Nazis, Saints, And Monks In Heidelberg - Philosophenweg

School is finally out for summer! We've been freed! And by we, I really mean me. We all know who keeps the finely oiled machine of homework and school attendance and notes going. That's right fellow moms, raise your hands. Now that we've been pardoned for the summer months, we are able to go out and explore more and do things we didn't have as much time for. We started our summer break with a hike up the Heiligenberg, on a path called the Philosophenweg, or Philosopher's Way. 

Almost directly even with the Alte Brücke, or Old Bridge, in Heidelberg on the north side of the banks of the Neckar, is the start of the path Philosophenweg. It starts out as a narrow stair case that climbs between gardens on the hill side. Don't even think about trying it with a stroller. It also might not be for your tiny kids. It's 3 kilometers to the top. There is a road that you can take to the top called Mittlerer Klosterweg.

Philosophenweg, Heidelberg, Germany, Philosopher's Way

The narrow pathway joins a hillside road and you continue north until you reach the trail head.

Philophenweg, Heidelberg Germany, Philosopher's Way

Most of the time you are hiking in what feels like a leafy green tunnel. But every now and then, the trees break and you are rewarded with sweeping views of Heidelberg below you.

Stephanskloster, Phisopheweg, Heidelberg, Philosopher's Way, St. Stephan's Monastery

When you reach the top of the Heiligenberg, or Mountain of Saints, you reach Stephanskloster, a monastery that was founded in 863 in an old Celtic fortress. In 1094 AD they built their own monastery. 

Stephanskloster, Heidelberg Germany, St. Stephan's Monastery

The monastery was abandoned in the 1600's and all that remains are the foundation walls.

Stephanskloster tower, Heidelberg Germany, St. Stephan's monastery

In 1885 a tower was built out of the remains of the monastery. Now why would they ever build a tower here?

Heidelberg Castle, Heiligenberg

This is why. Because it offers a great view of the castle across the way. Also, 130 years ago there weren't as many trees and you got a great view of the Neckar River. You could watch out for those sneaky French.

A little further up the mountain you come to more modern architecture.

Thingstätte, Heidelberg, Nazi Amphitheater

This is the Thingstätte, or the Nazi amphitheater. It was built in 1934 for rallies to whip up support from the youth of the nearby Heidelberg University. It is rumored that it was also built as a place of worship by the Nazis. It didn't escape anyone's attention that they chose the "Holy Mountain" on which to build their theater. Cult like rituals were said to take place here, focusing on the Nazi belief in "Blood and Soil," which is based on pure ethnicity, the descent of blood, or ancestry, and the soil which you cultivate or live on. The Nazis thought that German soil held a mystical power, and therefore the people who lived and took care of that soil must be special too. And from that ideology sprang thousands of horrors.

Thingstätte, Heidelberg, Nazi Amphitheater

The stadium seats of the Thingstätte.

Further up the mountain, (the hike gets better! Don't think I would leave it on Nazis, what a downer) you reach the pinnacle, the Michaelskloster, or Monastery of St. Michael.

Michaelskloster, Heidelberg, Monastery of St. Michael

This is what is left of the Monastery of St. Michael. It was abandoned in the 1500's. 

Michaelskloster, Heidelberg, Monastery of St. Michael

Look at this cute window...

Michaelskloster, Heidelberg

And look at this cute girl...

You know why she's smiling? Because we just did this together-

Michaelskloster, Heidelberg

Sorry boys and Minkie Dog, you're all locked up. 

Michaelskloster, Heidelberg, Monastery of St. Michael

Don't feel too bad for them. This dungeon was clean and well lit. Look. It's not like there were skeletons hanging by shackles on the walls or anything.

Michaelskloster, Heidelberg

It was soon time to go. Minkie Dog had stolen my granola bar off of the bench and eaten it (bad dog!) and the kids were getting tired.

We walked back down the hill into the Altstadt and I was happy.

It takes so little to make me happy, after all. Comfortable shoes on my feet, a backpack on my back, and beautiful scenery to complete the day.



What little things make you happy?


  1. I love all those things, and then a big glass of wine!!:-)

  2. Thanks mom lov you

  3. so cute- you five! i love philosophenweg! i miss heidelberg!

  4. Loved the part about the dungeon, you have such a cute fam!

  5. I love the stadium seats! Can't wait to visit Heidelberg.


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