Hiking to a Nazi Amphitheater in Heidelberg
A Trip to Heidelberg
Heidelberg is an old town, with some mentions of the city dating back to 769 AD. It is widely known for Heidelberg University, which is Germany’s oldest university and is even one of Europe’s most reputable universities. It makes sense why around one fourth of the population is students!
Not only that, but there is a long line of history in Heidelberg that I’d recommend reading into. You can find it on Wikipedia. One of my favorite little tidbits of information is that they found evidence of human life there that dates back to an estimated 200,000 years old!
How Did We Get There?
Heidelberg was a quick day trip for us. Two of my buddies were going and asked if I wanted to tag along. I said yes without really knowing much about Heidelberg, but I’m glad I went.
I’m a big history guy, I love places that have history that you can see and let your imagination run with. For example: ruins, abandoned buildings, or other structures still standing from when they were originally built.
Heidelberg offers all of that and then some.
We had researched a bit before going and saw that there was a great hiking trail there that led to a Nazi amphitheater. That alone would be worth the trip. Especially considering I’ve never really been on a “hike” before.
We road tripped out there pretty early. I believe we left around eight in the morning and arrived around 10 in the morning. We got a sweet parking spot here as well, not too far from the start of the hike or any other places of interest in Heidelberg. We didn’t feel like hiking across town just to hike up a hill!
What Did We Do There?
Well like I said, not only did we hike, we hiked to an old Nazi amphitheater! More specifically, it was called Heidelberg Thingstatte. The hike was beautiful, with many opportunities to look out over the city. Overall, the hike took around an hour to get to the top.
Around halfway up, I tried taking a shortcut by running straight up the hill instead of following the path. This proved unsuccessful as about three steps into my journey I fell directly on my back and slid back down to the feet of my friends who continued to make fun of me for the rest of the trip.
Well, we finally made it to the top by following the correct path, and seeing the amphitheater was pretty breathtaking.
It was one of the earliest amphitheaters built in the Third Reich, which was from the years of 1933 through 1945.
It was constructed as part of the Thingspiel movement, which was pretty much an outdoor theater performances. And these amphitheaters were built specifically for these performances. Overall, 400 theaters were planned, but only 40 ended up being built.
It was huge, and had around 8,000 “seats.” When it was first commissioned, Joseph Goebbels gave a speech. Goebbels was Reich Minister of Propaganda, and one of Hitler’s closest associates.
We walked around the theater, trying to take it all in and imagine what it was like 70 to 80 years ago.
After a good amount of time, we ventured up further past the theater. We had no idea what we were going to find, but curiosity got the best of us. I love to explore, so this was fine for me.
Turns out there was more up the path. An old, ruined monastery actually.
After doing some digging and researching, and by researching I mean reading the signs they had posted, we figured out it was the Monastery of St. Michael. It’s crazy, because this thing was built in the year 1023, but abandoned in the 16th century. That means this thing has been sitting around for upwards of 500 years collecting dust!
It was a branch from the Lorsch Abbey, which was one of the most impressive monasteries of the Carolingian Empire.
This place was empty, no one else was there, so it was awesome to really explore it in depth.
We hiked back down the hill, and by now we worked up a great appetite. We needed a good beer. After Googling places to eat, we decided on the Kulturbrauerei Heidelberg.
It is a great hotel built into a brewery, and they also serve amazing food. So this place has everything you could ever need.
However, we weren’t there to sleep, we were there to eat schnitzel and drink beer. And that’s exactly what we did!
This was actually where my love for schnitzel with jam was solidified in history. Prior to this, all the schnitzel I had was just plain schnitzel, nothing really extra or special about it. But this place sold it with strawberry jam! That was the good stuff.
After a good meal, we headed to our next and final destination: Heidelberg Castle. From the outside looking in, it looks like a complex maze. In reality, it was a complex maze.
Not really, but there were a lot of steps to get to the top, which was amazing considering we had just climbed to the top of a hill just a couple hours prior.
We made it to the top, and took in all of the views. You could see the beautiful Neckar River and all the bright red roofs that lie below.
The castle itself is very old, dating back to the year 1214. However, it was demolished in the 17th and 18th centuries. Part of the castle has since been rebuilt. There is still plenty of the castle left, however, to tour and take in. It is more than worth it, and I wish I had more time to explore.
After a good day in Milan, we headed back to our Airbnb in Venice, got a good night’s rest, and headed out in the morning.
Overall, it was a trip that was well worth it. If we had more time there, we would have loved to explore more around the area.
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