Located in southwest Germany, Heidelberg is the fifth-largest city in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Home to nearly 150,000 people, it is a popular tourist destination, as many are drawn by its romantic, picturesque cityscape and interested in its history.
Heidelberg can trace its beginnings back to the 5th century, when it was first referenced in documents. The oldest part of the city is the Aldstadt, or "Old Town." The narrow streets and market squares, as well as the art, shopping and old and new architecture, make it a charming destination. Heidelberg University, which is the oldest university in Germany and one of the oldest in Europe, is located there. Established in 1386, it is known for being one of the finest research universities in Europe.
The Altstadt sits just below the once grand palace, Heidelberg Castle. The earliest castle structure was built before 1214. Throughout the years, the castle fell under siege by three emperors, was pillaged and burned by a French king and struck by lightning twice. However, the remaining ruins are still breathtaking.
Heidelberg is also the location where an important historical find was discovered. Sometime between 600,000 to 200,000 years ago, “Heidelberg Man,” an extinct species related to modern man, died near the city. His jawbone was discovered in 1907. With scientific dating, the remains of Heidelberg Man (homo heidelbergensis) were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe.