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König­stuhl Heidelberg

The König­stuhl: Nature und Culture

The König­stuhl (King’s Chair) is a moun­tain in the city of Heidel­berg. It is loca­ted on the eas­tern edge of the old town and is the hig­hest point of the city with a height of 570 meters. Alt­hough this only makes it the 21st hig­hest moun­tain in Baden-Würt­tem­berg, it is still the hig­hest moun­tain in the small Oden­wald region and offers an impres­sive view.

The moun­tain has been a popu­lar place for hiking and sight­see­ing since the 18th cen­tury. In 1886, the moun­tain rail­road was built to make it easier for visi­tors to reach the summit. The König­stuhl offers a pan­or­amic view of the city, the Neckar valley and the entire area sur­roun­ding Heidelberg.

 

In addi­tion to sci­en­ti­fic use and free time acti­vi­ties, the König­stuhl also has a rich cul­tu­ral history. In the Middle Ages, the moun­tain was famous for its castle, which was built in the 13th cen­tury and served as the resi­dence of the Elec­tors. The castle was des­troyed in the 17th cen­tury, which is why today, unfor­tu­n­a­tely, only ruins remain. There were several attempts to rebuild the castle, until it was finally abandoned.

View of the Neckar valley from a location on the Königstuhl

Over­all, the König­stuhl is an important fea­ture of Heidel­berg, offe­ring visi­tors a beau­ti­ful natu­ral and cul­tu­ral expe­ri­ence. With a rich history, hiking, obser­va­tion and out­door recrea­tion opportunities.

Natu­ral wonder: Königstuhl

As already men­tio­ned, the König­stuhl is loca­ted on the eas­tern edge of the city of Heidel­berg and offers a pan­or­amic view of the city, the Neckar River and the sur­roun­ding area. From the top, you can over­look the entire city of Heidel­berg, inclu­ding the old town and the famous Heidel­berg Castle. But the view also extends beyond the city, reve­aling the pic­tures­que land­s­cape of the Neckar Valley and the Oden­wald Forest.

History and Culture

The König­stuhl is home to several nota­ble land­marks that have played an important role in the city’s history. One of the most famous land­marks on the König­stuhl is the Heidel­berg Castle, a magni­ficent Renais­sance palace built bet­ween the 13th and 14th cen­tu­ries and des­troyed and rebuilt several times over the cen­tu­ries. The castle is con­si­de­red one of the most important Renais­sance buil­dings north of the Alps and is a popu­lar tou­rist destination.

How to get there?

Many ways lead to the goal, but which is the best way to climb the König­stuhl? That depends ent­i­rely on your plan. The­re­fore, all pos­si­ble ways to get there are descri­bed in detail below.

With the cable car

The best way to reach the König­stuhl is to take the Heidel­berg Berg­bahn from the city center. The bottom sta­tion is loca­ted at the foot of the moun­tain and it takes about 15 minu­tes to get to the top sta­tion König­stuhl. In front of the König­stuhl moun­tain sta­tion, half­way up, there is the Hei­del­ber­ger Schloss moun­tain sta­tion where you can also get off. The moun­tain rail­roads run very fre­quently, but are still some­ti­mes very crow­ded, because espe­cially in summer many people want to ride and every guest is taken. The ride on the moun­tain rail­road takes 10-20 minu­tes, depen­ding on the sta­tion. From the lowest sta­tion (Korn­markt) to the upper sta­tion (König­stuhl) the ride takes bet­ween 15 and 20 minutes.

Old mountain railroad enters the station

By Car

The jour­ney to the König­stuhl is also easy to make by car. From the city center (Bis­marck­platz) the route takes about 15 minu­tes and leads through the beau­ti­ful Heidel­berg forests. There is no par­king garage at the peak, but there are some other pos­si­bi­li­ties to park. Usually there are enough par­king spaces.

 By Bus

You can also take the bus from the city center to the König­stuhl to enjoy the unique view over Heidel­berg. The VRN number 39 will take you from Heidel­berg main sta­tion to the top sta­tion of the König­stuhl. The ride doesn’t have the same view as the cable cars, but it only takes 25-30 minu­tes from Heidel­berg main station.

By foot

Visi­tors can also climb the moun­tain on foot, with the help of the Him­mels­lei­ter. With over 1200 steps, the Him­mels­lei­ter is a gigan­tic stair­case that leads from Heidel­berg Castle directly to the summit region of the König­stuhl. The irre­gu­lar stair­case, which con­sists of rough and uneven stones, begins directly at the Mol­ken­kur-Weg. If the steps from the Korn­markt in the Old Town are coun­ted as well, the stair­case comes to about 1600 steps.

Places of interest

In con­junc­tion with the König­stuhl, there are several nearby attrac­tions to visit in Heidel­berg, so there should be some­thing for ever­yone. To make the most of your visit, you should plan your trip in advance and also con­si­der the wea­ther. If the wea­ther is clear, you can climb the König­stuhl and also visit the obser­va­tory and tower for pan­or­amic views of the city.

You should also plan enough time to visit the other sights nearby, but also allow some time for a leisu­rely stroll and sam­pling local food and drinks. If you want to learn more about the history of the city and its sights, con­si­der taking a guided tour.

The Hei­del­ber­ger Castle

This is one of the most popu­lar tou­rist attrac­tions in Heidel­berg. The castle is loca­ted on the oppo­site side of the Neckar River from the König­stuhl and can be reached via a short walk across the Old Bridge. The castle has a history dating back to the 13th cen­tury and offers a variety of tours and exhibitions.

View of Heidelberg Castle from the Old Town

Obser­va­tory

The König­stuhl Obser­va­tory, mana­ged by Heidel­berg Uni­ver­sity, can be visi­ted by appoint­ment. The state obser­va­tory has several tele­scopes, inclu­ding a 7-meter tele­scope, which is one of the lar­gest in Ger­many. It is one of the oldest astro­no­mi­cal obser­va­to­ries in Ger­many. It was built in the late 19th cen­tury and has served astro­no­mi­cal rese­arch and edu­ca­tion ever since. The obser­va­tory is open to the public and offers guided tours and lec­tures on the history and sci­ence of astronomy.

Old Town

Heidelberg’s Old Town is loca­ted directly below the König­stuhl and is a laby­rinth of narrow streets and medi­eval archi­tec­ture. Visi­tors can leisu­rely stroll through the streets here and explore the many stores, cafes and restaurants.

View of the buildings of the old town of Heidelberg

Wald­er­leb­nis­pfad

The Wald­er­leb­nis­pfad (Forest Expe­ri­ence Trail) is a must for nature lovers. This beau­ti­ful hiking trail winds through the beau­ti­ful forests sur­roun­ding Heidel­berg and offers visi­tors the oppor­tu­nity to expe­ri­ence the natu­ral beauty of the area first­hand. While there is no shor­tage of hiking trails at König­stuhl, this is one with an excel­lent rating.

The trail is about 3.5 km long and the hike takes about 2 hours. It is sui­ta­ble for visi­tors of all ages and abi­li­ties and can be walked all year round. Along the trail you will find a variety of inter­ac­tive exhi­bits and edu­ca­tio­nal panels that pro­vide infor­ma­tion about the local flora and fauna.

Phi­lo­so­phen­weg

The Phi­lo­so­phen­weg (philosopher’s path) is a scenic walk that runs along the Neckar River and offers great views of the König­stuhl, the castle and the old town. Alt­hough the walk is on the other side of the Neckar, it offers some great view­points and is the­re­fore defi­ni­tely worth a visit if you want to see the König­stuhl and the old town from the other side of the Neckar.

View from the inside of the forest on one of the routes of the Philosophers' Trail

Mär­chen­pa­ra­dies

The Mär­chen­pa­ra­dies (Fairy Tale Para­dise) is a kind of small theme park for child­ren. There is a lot to learn about clas­sic and old German fairy tales. In addi­tion to the fairy tales, there are many dif­fe­rent attrac­tions so that adults or par­ents can also have fun here. The attrac­tions range from tram­po­li­nes to play­grounds and rides to shoo­ting gal­le­ries and much more.

Fal­conry

The fal­conry is a unique and exci­ting attrac­tion for visi­tors of all ages. It is loca­ted in the beau­ti­ful forests around Heidel­berg and offers visi­tors the oppor­tu­nity to observe these magni­ficent birds of prey at close range.

During the fal­conry show, visi­tors can watch trai­ned fal­cons, eagles and owls fly and per­form various tricks and maneu­vers. The show is edu­ca­tio­nal and enter­tai­ning, offe­ring visi­tors a glim­pse into the world of these ama­zing birds. For a bird lover this address is a must.

Falcon of Heidelberg falconry sitting in a tree

Heidel­berg University

Heidel­berg Uni­ver­sity is one of the oldest and most pres­ti­gious uni­ver­si­ties in Ger­many. During a guided tour of the uni­ver­sity you can see the beau­ti­ful baro­que buil­dings and the famous Old Uni­ver­sity Library.

View of the Königstuhl and the enlightened castle at night

Sum­mary

The König­stuhl is unique and a real land­mark for Heidel­berg. It com­bi­nes cul­ture with nature and leisure acti­vi­ties. There is some­thing inte­res­ting for ever­yone to do here. From the magi­cal view over Heidelberg’s old town and the Neckar River, to the fal­conry and fairy tale para­dise, to beau­ti­ful hiking trails inside the forest and the majes­tic Heidel­berg Castle. The König­stuhl offers rela­xa­tion, tran­qui­lity but also beau­ti­ful tours to dis­co­ver many new things.