Around Heidelberg

July 29, 2012
The plaque in the clinic where Rizal studied under Dr. Otto Becker

Thanks to these heritage conscious Germans I could see the same town as Rizal left it. It was the same Heidelberg he fell in love with – the same town where he wrote his “Las Flores de Heidelberg”. Same place where he watched those bloody fencing duels. Same place where he studied ophthalmology. Its amazing how an old building can connect you to the past. When will we ever feel this way about our old towns? Well, as we continue to witness the relentless destruction of our heritage structures, perhaps, never. Manila for example have very little to offer in terms of historical attractions aside from Intramuros. Not that the city is lacking, actually, its teeming with historical structures but they’re left to rot and eventually taken down. There’s still much to be save but with what I saw the last two mayors did with Manila’s historical treasures, honestly, I’m beginning to feel that all hope is lost.

Whenever I’ll go to the center of Heidelberg where the shops housed in old buildings are, I’ll pass by the old clinic (20 Bergheimer Straße) where Rizal practiced ophthalmology under Dr. Otto Becker. I stay in a small inexpensive room in Bergheimer, which is on the same street. I didn’t picked the place – I landed here by accident. Two weeks before my assignment, I was informed by the company’s travel agency that this place in Bergheimer is the only place they can get for me – for some strange reason all the regular hotels were booked. This means traveling 30 – 45 minutes by car to work everyday (which I don’t mind because I love seeing the German countryside).

One morning, while making my way to buy a sandwich I saw the metal plaque written in German with Rizal’s name on it. Just imagine my surprise. The place is less than 50 meters from where I stay. That was a strange feeling – if you believe in spiritual interventions this is probably one of those things. Heidelberg alone have more than 50 hotels and I’m here. I’d like to think that Rizal probably led those people to get the place for me, or perhaps, I just got lucky.

Rizal lodged in various places here in Heidelberg. The one in Grabengasse 12 (formerly Ludwigsplatz 12)  has a marker installed on the second floor of the building. Like almost all of the old buildings in the old town, this one is rented to commercial shops. The place must have been expensive even during his time because its located right in front of the old university. Not far is the town’s justice hall. The area is full of tourist and shoppers during the weekends. The streets around here feels like Divisoria. In this house he wrote his famous poem, “Las Flores de Heildelberg”.

Another nice place to visit is the Philosophers way (Philosophenweg) which is a popular path along the Neckar River. Story goes that this has been frequented by famous philosophers throughout history.  I’m not sure if that really was the case but Rizal for sure regularly strolled there. In Philosophenweg  he met Pastor Ullmer and his family one day. Just imagine total strangers that would one day live all together under one roof. This shows the character of Pastor Ullmer because imagine, he didn’t know the guy but he looked pass Rizal’s skin and appearance and offered him his home. The other address of Rizal in Heidelberg is 16 Karlstrasse and this one have a good view of the hills and the castle but that small space must’ve been too expensive because he left hurriedly.

Heidelberg is an expensive place today and even during Rizal’s time. There’s a Pizza Hut not far from my street and that helps me save a lot because two slices costs only a few euros. If you’re going to eat in restaurants here and you happen to have a meager budget you won’t get very far. The place where I stay serve free breakfast so that cushions the spending for me. Just by looking at the places Rizal rented, the life he lived and the education his family paid for here, even by European standards, they’re well off. I think this all the more highlights the sacrifice he made. He didn’t need to take part in reformist activities. But he did. And he died for it.

Heidelberg and Wilhemlfeld are  two places he really felt in his element. He became a full pledge eye doctor in Heidelberg while in Wilhemsfeld, he mastered his German and finished his book. We all know that he traveled all over Europe. He loved Paris and felt home in Spain but Germany holds a special place in his heart. He traveled it extensively and as his letters and diaries tells us, he loves everything German.

The old eye clinic. Its just wonderful how these places still stands. Its nice that our Filipino representatives here installed the plaque but why in German?
A short street near this statue called Karlstrasse is where Rizal first lived
Formerly Ludwigsplatz 12, One of Rizal’s former address here in Heidelberg. The marker is placed on the second level because the first level facade is made of glass.

Some other pictures I took…

The Zum Ritter hotel – a baroque style building. One of the more popular structures here. These two gals are both Filipinas. I had the honor of being asked later on to take their picture.
The old university pharmacy – it’s still a pharmacy. A tour guide was explaining its importance to his audience. Tried to listen in but the lecture was in German!
Old buildings galore…
The bricked streets and the old architecture is admired by tourist who can’t seem to stop taking pictures. Like me.
Everywhere people are just walking. And drinking beer. Big business in Germany of course.
The streets in the old town center are pretty narrow but that’s alright, Germans are pretty good drivers.
Renovations are done under strict government rules
One thing you’ll enjoy around here is seeing these kind of architecture. Makes you feel that not much has changed.
One of the original pillars of the oldest university in Europe.
A bakeshop selling specialty breads. The people around here speaks English well. I’m not surprised that tourists feels comfortable walking around here.
A wonderful ruin to have as a background!
Heidelberg has the longest shopping street in the continent, a total of  “1.6-kilometre long pedestrianized area, which is Europe’s longest”
The shops here are a bit out of my range so I take what I can take from around here. Pictures.
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John E.
John E.

If your wanderings bring you to England at any time, please be sure to let me know and I will be happy to meet you. John

John Crawford
John Crawford

I remember my time here, I heard the US bases there will all soon be closed