A Travellerspoint blog

Heidelberg & Mainz

Tuesday morning saw us boarding another bus for a 40 minute ride to Heidelberg to visit a castle and the ‘old town’. Heidelberg is a university city with over 40,000 students studying mainly medicine & law. Most were on holiday breaks but there were still about 20,000 Summer School students in town. Apparently anyone, from anywhere (Incl. Australia & NZ) can study free in Germany, and in Heidelberg you can, provided you can speak and write German, and have studied Latin for 7 years!!! This is another town that is ‘pedestrian-friendly’ with most of the old town closed to vehicular traffic from 11am. There are a huge number of bicycles parked at various spots around the town. This is because the town is not easy to get around in cars and students may need to travel some distance from one class to another so they use bikes. The castle itself was amazing, having been built in stages over 400 years from the middle 1300s and having been destroyed and rebuilt seven times over those centuries and rebuilt as one religion or another threw the current one out! The Lutheran Church was very strong for a couple of those centuries. Louis XIV finally destroyed most of it. Subsequently he went back to France having decided he no longer coveted the area (what a waste). The castle includes the world’s largest wine barrel at 220, 000 litres and has a baby sibling at a mere 55,000 litres! The view over the old town is amazing and you could see why the gentry would want to live there. We then bussed back into the old town and wandered around and had a cappuccino at an Italian café of all places! The bus then took us to our ship in Mainz where it had moved to whilst we visited Heidelberg. In Mainz we visited the Gutenberg Museum where we learned all about Gutenberg and his printing press – what a very clever guy he was. It was strange to think that without his invention of the printing press most of us may not be able to read! He made printing books quicker and easier to produce which allowed people to afford books which before his time were extremely expensive and only the very rich could afford them. Having thought this might be boring we were all actually infatuated for well over an hour. The display of his original printed bibles (there are still 49 in existence) and the hand written ones that preceded them was fantastic. Gutenberg’s innovation was developing a casting system and metal alloys for the type face characters which made production easier. He produced 180 bibles, each 1280 pages long (two books – old and new testaments). These were produced as loose-leafs on high quality parchment and the buyers then had to have an artist complete the drawings and coloured letterings and then have them bound. Apparently some of these took up to 10 years to complete! Our guide was from Argentina and was very comical and informative. It started raining just before we went into the museum but this had subsided when we came out – the first rain for us in over a month. We then wandered around town and then back to the boat for dinner. After dinner we were treated to a concert by a three-piece ensemble (two violins and an acoustic guitar) by a group called Strada – they were fantastic.

Posted by 3kiwisabroad 04:34

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