Saturday, November 3, 2012

Oct 15 - Mannheim - Heildelberg - Speyer Germany

According to the itinerary:
Arrive into Mannheim early today where you may join a city tour. Alternatively, there is an option to visit the ancient university town of Heidelberg, before continuing to Speyer. During the afternoon there is an optional walking tour of Speyer. Return to the ship in the early evening and prepare for the Captain’s Gala Dinner with a show performed by the crew.

We chose to take the Heidelberg optional tour. As we drove there we had a mini overview of Mannheim.

Mannheim, a university city on the banks of the Rhine and Neckar rivers, has produced important inventions to keep us on the move. In 1817 Karl Drais built the first two-wheeled draisine, and Carl Benz's first car took to the streets in 1886. The legendary Lanz Bulldog tractor followed in 1921 and Julius Hatry developed the world's first rocket-powered aircraft here in 1929. Inquiring minds clearly feel at home in Mannheim.

The 'chessboard' city centre
Maybe it is the city's clear structure that helps them think. Mannheim is a 'chessboard' city, whose streets between the Neckar river and the castle were laid out in a grid formation in the 17th century. Locals talking to each other about 'C5' or 'E7' are not referring to a game of battleships but where they live or where they are headed.

And they have plenty of places to choose from. Mannheim offers a wealth of sights, culinary hotspots, nature and culture, traditional and modern architecture, events and parties, vibrancy and tranquillity. Say checkmate to boredom! All tastes are catered for, whether opera, plays and ballet at the National Theatre, concerts ranging from classical to pop or readings, or a host of other events in independent theatres and venues both conventional and not so conventional. Sights not to be missed include Europe's second largest baroque castle and the water tower, which is set in the middle of one of the loveliest art nouveau architectural ensembles in Europe. Mannheim is also the Rhine-Neckar region's mecca for shopaholics – there is nothing you cannot buy here. 

Bertha Benz's husband, Karl Benz, patented the first automobile designed to produce its own power in January 1886 (Reich Patent No. 37435).

In early August 1888 without her husband's knowledge, Bertha Benz, with her sons Richard and Eugen, fourteen and fifteen years old, drove in one of Benz's newly-constructed Patent Motorwagen No. 3 automobiles from Mannheim to Pforzheim, becoming the first person to drive an automobile over more than a very short distance The distance was about 104 km (65 mi). Distances traveled before this historic trip were short, and merely trials with mechanical assistants.

Although the ostensible purpose of the trip was to visit her mother, Bertha Benz also had another motive: to show her brilliant husband – who had failed to consider marketing his invention adequately – that the automobile would become a financial success once it was shown to be useful to the general public.

On the way, she solved numerous problems. She had to find Ligroin, a solvent available only at dispensing chemists' shops, to use as fuel. Thus the still existing Stadt-Apotheke (Town Pharmacy) in Wiesloch, some kilometres south of Heidelberg, became the world's first filling station. A blacksmith had to help mend a chain in Bruchsal. Brake linings were replaced in Bauschlott/Neulingen north of Pforzheim. And Bertha Benz had to use a long, straight hatpin to clean a fuel pipe which had become blocked, and a garter to insulate a wire.

Bertha and her sons left Mannheim around dawn and reached Pforzheim somewhat after dusk, notifying Karl of their successful journey by telegram. They drove back to Mannheim three days later.

Along the way, several people were frightened by the automobile and the novel trip received a great deal of publicity – as she had sought. The drive was very helpful for Karl Benz, as he was able to introduce several improvements after his wife reported everything that had happened along the way – and she made important suggestions, such as the introduction of an additional gear for climbing hills.


We drove to the Castle where we had a tour of about an hour.

Nestled in the hill 300 feet above the city of Heidelberg stands the breath-taking Heidelberg Schloss (castle). The castle is a combination of several buildings surrounding an inner courtyard, put together with a haphazard look. Each building highlights a different period of German architecture.

The castle has a history almost as old as the city itself. The first parts of the castle were constructed around 1300, but it until Prince Elector Ruprecht III (1398 – 1410) that the castle was used as a regal residence. Until it was destroyed by lightning in 1764 leaving it permanently uninhabitable, the castle was the residence for most of the Prince Electors. In 1800, Count Charles de Graimberg began the difficult task of conserving the castle ruins. Up until this time, the citizens of Heidelberg had used the castle stones to build new houses.

The Heidelberg Tun, or the “World’s Largest Wine Barrel”, was built in 1751 by Prince Elector Karl Theodor to house the wine paid as taxes by the wine growers of the Palatine. It stands seven meters high, is eight and a half meters wide, holds 220,000 liters (58,124 gallons) of wine, and has a dance floor built on top of it. The court jester who guarded the cask during the reign of Prince Elector Carl Philip, a Tyrolean dwarf nick-named Perkeo, was supposedly known for his ability to drink large quantities of wine. Legend has it that he died when he mistakenly drank a glass of water.

Just as breath-taking as the castle is from the city, so too is the city from the castle. From either the Great Terrace or the gardens, one has an amazing view of Heidelberg, the Neckar River, and the Neckar valley far into the Rhine plain. On a clear day, Mannheim is even visible on the horizon.

We then had an opportunity to wander around town. The view of the castle from the town is spectacular.

 The market is situated outside the church during the week.

It was quite chilly so we popped in for an Irish coffee.

This was a very cute little pub which had a wood oven for making pizzas. We wished we could stay for lunch.

It was a rather old pub founded in 1752!!

Then it was time to regroup and head back to the boat.


We left Meinheim at 1PM and arrived in Speyer at 3:30. We walked into town on our own.

The Speyer Cathedral, officially the Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St Stephen

Begun in 1030 under Conrad II, with the east end and high vault of 1090-1103, the imposing triple-aisled vaulted basilica of red sandstone is the "culmination of a design which was extremely influential in the subsequent development of Romanesque architecture during the 11th and 12th centuries.

Philip I of Rosenberg was a member of the Franconian noble von Rosenberg family. His father was Erasmus of Rosenberg. Erasmus was in the service of the Principality of Ansbach as bailiff of Uffenheim. He was the founder of the von Rosenberg line in Uttenhofen.

In 1479, Philip studied in Heidelberg and was canon of Worms. In 1480, he was appointed canon in Speyer. In 1480 and 1481, he continued his studies in Ingolstadt, where he received a doctorate in canon law.
In 1509 he commissioned the Mount of Olives, a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture. It was erected in a cloister on the south side of Speyer Cathedral. The cloister was destroyed in a fire in 1689; the Mount of Olives was damaged and a roof was added to protect it from the elements.

 It is a bustling town with lots of shopping but not enough time!


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