Sunday, December 13, 2015


Wednesday on our Rhine River cruise was spent in and around the city of Heidelberg.  American author Mark Twain was a huge fan, spending three months there in the late 1800s and writing lovingly about the city in his book, A Tramp Abroad.

Heidelburg Castle, Ruins of Dicker Turm Tower
We made our way first to Heidelberg Castle, whose earliest structure was built before 1214.  Over the years, repeated damage from lightning and wars has left much of the structure in ruins.  Dicker Turm tower was destroyed in 1689, and bears a plaque flanked by statues of the Elector Louis V (left) and Frederick V (right).

Heidelburg Castle
I always appreciate the look of dead foliage, especially seed pods.  I love how stark things look here with the bare branches, water droplets, and stone background.

Heidelburg Castle
Being situated about 260 feet uphill from the river, the rain falling down in the city was snow up at the castle.  The castle entrance is through this tower, across a bridge that spans the former moat.

Heidelburg Castle Courtyard
The palace was built and extended over three centuries in different styles, including Gothic and Renaissance.

Heidelburg Castle
Looking back at my pictures, I'm surprised how often my eye shifted from the actual architecture to elements like these bare branches covered in water droplets.  I guess that's just the nature photographer in me.

Heidelburg Old Town, Neckar Valley
Our cruise director gave me a tip to head out to a terrace for a great view of the Neckar Valley across Heidelberg's Old Town.  The thick clouds on the opposite hills and dusting of snow added some nice elements to the view.

Heidelburg Castle Gate
As we left the castle I was able to stop and turn back for a shot of the medieval guards that look over the entrance gate.

Heidelburg Christmas Pyramid
We returned to the city for lunch and some more Christmas markets, including one in the town's Marktplatz that features the "Heidelberg Christmas Pyramid," a larger-than-life version of the candle-bearing table ornaments that are popular in Germany and Central Europe during Advent.

Neckar River
One last shot across the Neckar before we boarded our buses to return to the Viking Idi.

I enjoyed Heidelberg, even feeling that between the weather and being part of a tour group I barely got to experience the city at all.  Hopefully I'll get the opportunity to return for a longer visit at a different time of year!

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