Heidelberg Off The Beaten Path

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Best Rated Off The Beaten Path in Heidelberg

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    Pharmacy Museum – Officinas

    by Trekki Updated Dec 28, 2008

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    Offizin of Benedictine monastery (1724)
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    In the German Pharmacy Museum, you will come across 4 offizins, the old pharmacy shops. They nicely show the development over the years, from the first shops in buildings (rather than on old markets).

    The table(s) in the middle of the room(s) did not serve as counter, as usually, the customers did not enter the pharmacists’ shops, but were given the medication through a little window. The tables have been used to mix the medicines’ ingredients.

    You’ll come across beautiful pharmacy furniture, the famous drawers being still imitated today.

    Pic 1: baroque interior of Benedictine monastery in Schwarzach (1724). 2 statues – Aesculap (god of healing) and Hygieia (his daughter) are standing on the preparation table, in their hands the symbol of medicine – snake and staff. The balance is of 1830 (France), having a porcelain pedestal. The mixing table has 60 drawers with ingredients; more ingredients are in the shelf, in beautiful glass vessels.

    Pic 2: cherry wood closet and drawer, 1812, of Kronen Apotheke (Ulm, Germany).

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    Plants & animals in pharmacology

    by Trekki Updated Dec 28, 2008

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    Plants - in old pharmacology
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    For me the most fascinating part of Pharmacy Museum is the exhibition of plants, animals and rocks, as used for preparing medicine in the old days.

    In 28 showcases with more than 1000 exhibits, the “working material” of 17-19th century pharmacists is displayed and excellently described. The exhibition is divided into the 3 parts of nature (regna naturae) – minerals, plants and animals. Also shown are the original instruments of how pills and salves have been manufactured those days.

    In a niche, the “Merck Collection” is exhibited as well, a collection of raw materials and drugs which Chem.-Pharm. Merck KgaA (NOT to be confused with US Merck !!) did collect from all parts of the world when it started to develop from Engel pharmacy to the first international chemical pharmaceutical manufacturing company.

    Pic 1: Plants: betel nut (enhancing sweating), Campher (against rheumatic fever), cocoa beans (with analeptic alkaloids) and coconuts (as base for salves) are shown and explained in detail;
    Pic 2: more plants, such as herbs (dill) and others,
    Pic 3: Animals: dried fox lung (pulmo vulpis) helped against severe cough, toads (bufo bufo) were processed (dried and grained) into medicine against the Black Death – the plague, and other skin illnesses, rabbits (tali leporum) were meant to enhance and speed up birth deliveries, and wood-louse (millepedes) was used against buckled or distorted limbs.

    (to be continued in next tip)

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    Minerals in pharmacology

    by Trekki Updated Dec 28, 2008

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    The mineral collection
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    More material displayed in the showcases - minerals are used as raw materials for medicine since ages.

    Silver (Argentum) for example was used to make “lunar caustic” (Lapis infernalis, AgNo3), which was good against gonorrhoea.

    Gold (Aurum) mainly was used in alchemy days, but later as well as “potable gold” (aurum potabile) in several healing waters.

    Lead (Plumbum) is too toxic to be used internally, so it’s basic lead carbonate “white lead” (Cerusse) was transformed into a white salve, used to dry out eczemas and other pustules.
    Also, lead oxide (Lithargyrum, PbO) with adstringing effects, was made into plasters and “lead water” (Aqua plumbum).

    Tin (Stannum) was used as “white lead” (Plumbum album”, Plumbum candidum) and used as vermicide – considering the hygienic conditions those days must have been a top sales product (haha).
    Tinoxide was good against cramps, hysteria and syphillis, it’s chloride against epilepsy.

    Copper (Cuprum), similar as lead, was also only used externally, such as anti-septic in wounds.

    Iron as “Blood Stone” (Lapis haematitis, haematite, Fe2O3) and “Magnet Stone” (Lapis magnetis, magnetite, Fe3O4) has been the most important iron minerals, those days as today used to enhance “blood building” and wound treatment.

    Pic 1: Some minerals used in the old days,
    Pic 2: the “Merck Collection” (as mentioned in the previous tip)

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    Ahh – the alchemy lab :-)

    by Trekki Updated Dec 28, 2008

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    Alchemy lab :-)
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    The pharmacist's lab is situated in a beautiful old vault, designed as if you would expect a pharmacist of 19th century to step out of a door and start his daily work :-)

    The room is filled with all the lab equipment of early pharmaceutical-technical days, such as retorts, distillation flasks, vessels to catch and separate liquids of different viscosity and density, filtration sets, different presses, crucibles, Berzelius burners, Woulff bottles and many other old instruments – ahhhh, (al)chemist's heaven :-)

    Look at the website below, to get an impression of the whole room.

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    Symbols of pharmacies – during history

    by Trekki Updated Dec 28, 2008

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    Beautiful old pharmacy sign
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    In the older days, a common pharmacy trade sign or logo (as today's red A) did not exist. That’s why the pharmacists could choose their own logo, which was inspired by the “raw materials” of their daily life, mainly animals.

    So you can see beautiful carved, iron-wrought, plaster, enamel and other trade signs of old pharmacies:
    Bärenapotheke (bears)
    Einhornapotheke (unicorn)
    Adlerapotheke (eagle)
    Löwenapotheke (lion).

    Today's trade sign, the red letter “A” with poison bowl and snake, exists since 1951.

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    Providenz Church

    by christine.j Written Sep 22, 2006

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    A historical window
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    Even though this church is on main street - which really is NOT off the beaten path - hardly anybody takes the time to go in and have a look. I think that's a pity, as it is a beautiful church, built in 17th century. While the central window is religious, the windows right and left to it show scenes from Heidelberg's history.
    The boys holding a wreath of roses in the lower part of the window are supposed to be the twin boys of the builder of the oldest building of the castle. They climbed up a ladder while their father was working , fell down and died. Legend has it that their father was so sad that he couldn't go on working, until they appeared to him in a dream, holding a wreath of roses. Only then was he able to finish the building.
    You can also see the two boys when you're up at the castle. They are shown just above the entrance of the Ruprechtsbau, where the guided tours start.

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    Travel pharmacy cases

    by Trekki Updated Dec 28, 2008

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    Travel pharmacy case of 17th century

    In the rooms where all the Offizins are exhibited, you’ll see what the people used these days when travelling. Tiny instruments and equipment is on display in showcases, the most beautiful exhibit is an old travel pharmacy case of 17th century, which belonged to a commander. It contained everything, from tiny glass and silver vessels with the medicines to small instruments.

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    Herb room - the drug kitchen

    by Trekki Updated Dec 28, 2008

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    The herb processing room

    A fascinating room to view – and to smell – is the herb processing room, where herbs were stored and made into medicine. The room is fitted with fresh herbs and smells incredible good (the museum employees seem to refill them from time to time !).

    The furniture and equipment are of the Village Pharmacy in Mosbach, mainly from 19th century.
    Roots and barks have been pregrinded with special knives and cutting-boards, then in mortars for further crushing.

    The big old scale in the middle was used to weigh bigger bulks of herbs.

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    Wolfsbrunnen - The Wolf's Fountain

    by christine.j Written Apr 11, 2007

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    Legends vary why this fountain is called the wolf's fountain. They all agree in the first part: About 2000 years ago, when the Romans ruled Heidelberg, there was a woman living up in the mountains all by herself. In some stories she is an old woman, in others she is young and beautiful, but in all she is called a wise woman who knew a lot about medicine, herbs and sometimes could tell the future. She once found a wolf's cub in the woods, took it home and raised it. This wolf stayed with her and was her companion.
    According to one legend, while she was getting some water from the fountain, a pack of wild wolves came and attacked her. Her tame wolf tried to defend her, but in vain, and she was killed.
    Another legend, however, tells the story like this: The Romans didn't trust her. The citizens of Heidelberg would go up to her and consult her, when they had problems, and the Romans were suspicious. One day, some Roman soldiers went up and killed her. Her tame wolf tried to help her, so they killed him as well. Afterwards, they made it look like the tame wolf had suddenly attacked her, because they feared the revenge of the people.
    Of course, after 2000 years, who knows what is true. The official version in Heidelberg is that the fountain is called wolf's fountain because the prince's game warden used to live here.
    However, even official Heidelberg honoured the legends by putting up the statue of wolf in the center of the water.
    Today, this is a very nice spot for a picnic after a hike. Or, if you want to have a full meal, there is a restaurant nearby, called Wolfsbrunnen.

    To get there you can drive to Heidelberg Schlierbach, Wolfsbrunnensteige.
    Or walk there from the castle: Walk through the castle garden and exit at the very end. Follow the road called Wolfsbunnensteige to the fountain.
    Or drive up the Königstuhl and hike down. It's a very nice hike! From the fountain you can walk to the castle and take the furnicular back up to the Königstuhl.

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    Pharmacy history - from early beginnings

    by Trekki Updated Dec 28, 2008

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    Industrialisation of Pharmacies

    Upon entering the Pharmacy Museum, you will learn much about the early stages of pharmacy, from its first idea of legalization in 13th century to it’s industrialization over the years. All the important and trend-setting researchers of these days are mentioned and explained how they have contributed to modern pharmaceutical developments.

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    Fun for Children and their Parents

    by christine.j Written Apr 11, 2007

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    A playground with a giant's hands
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    Children, especially when they are still small, are not the least bit interested in the castle or the history of Heidelberg. But they would enjoy going up to the Königstuhl. This is a large area on top of the highest mountain of Heidelberg. You can do some hiking from there or you can visit the fairy tale park. There are several statues from the tales of the brothers Grimm, some rides for kids to enjoy, playgrounds, you can learn how an old mill worked etc. You can also try to shoot a ball up a wall with a water pistol, it's not as easy as it seems to be!

    Prices are 3 Euro for adults, 2 Euro for children, but for some attractions inside the park you have to pay extra.

    Their website is in German only, an indication that is really off the beaten path in a touristic city like Heidelberg.

    To get there you can take a bus from Bismarckplatz, Bus 39, or you can take the furnicular. This is the more interesting way to go up. The new furnicular will take you up from Heidelberg Bergbahn station past the castle to the Molkenkur stop. Here everybody has to get off and change to the old furnicular for the last part of the trip. The old train is smaller, so there can be some waiting time.
    Alternatively, you can also drive up there, just follow the signs "Königstuhl".There is a large parking lot.
    Or, if you're really into working out, you can of course hike up. But that's not recommended if you are travelling with small children.

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    The Witches'Tower

    by christine.j Written Sep 22, 2006

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    The old witches' tower

    Heidelberg also has a witches' tower, although it is really off the beaten path. It is difficult to find, if you don't know where it is. This tower was part of the defense system and was built as a guard tower in 14th century. But, when the witchcraft hysteria started, as in so many other towns thoughout Europe, the poor women were thrown into prison. They weren't trusted in the regular prison, after all, they might cast a spell to make everybody escape. So many a guard tower was transformed into a witches' tower.
    The one in Heidelberg was changed once again, after World War I it was turned into a memorial tower for Heidelberg students who had died on the battlefields.
    The tower is inside some college buildings. From the outside, only the roof can be seen. On university square walk away from the main street, through a gate towards the old Jesuit college and you can see the tower.

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    Is your Brezel big enough??

    by christine.j Updated Dec 19, 2007

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    Very much ON the beaten path, but hidden by the vendors' stalls is the image of a brezel, engraved in the walls of the Heiliggeist Kirche on main street. When the market around the church was first started (I heard in 14th century, but I'm not sure here), people liked their brezels as much as today. To make more money, bakers made the brezels smaller and smaller, still asking the same price. To put an end to this, the correct size of a brezel was engraved in the church wall, so that everybody could go and check if his/her brezel was big enough.
    You can still see this brezel, best when the stalls are closed. Or take a peek in between them to see it.
    I was there early during the time of the Christmas Market and found the stalls directly opposite the Christmas Market not only closed, but gone. So for the first time I could get a really good view of the brezel.

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    A secret restaurant; away from the tourist traffic

    by JessH Updated Apr 25, 2011

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    Garden restaurant in Kurpfalz Museum, Heidelberg
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    Especially if you're not a museum-fan, you'd probably walk past this building and never think you'd missed anything: wrong. Especially during the summer months, Heidelberg's old town is filled to annoyance-point with tourists and residents alike. There are numerous street cafes and al-fresco eateries, but finding one that's not too crowded might just be impossible.

    That's why I love this restaurant / cafe: it is located right on the main street in the old town, but it's relatively unknown and off the "tourist track". Walk into the main entrance of the "Kurpfalz Museum" (Hauptstraße 97). The courtyard gardens has around 20 tables and they serve a full lunch or dinner menu. We usually prefer to visit for some nice traditional coffee and home-baked-style cakes. In summer 2006, my mother and I spent just over an hour here; relaxing in the cool of the trees' shade, resting our sore shopping-trip feet & enjoying the calm surroundings. Even in winter, you can sit inside their baroque and very grand dining rooms.

    Prices are relatively reasonable, considering that you're still in the tourist centre of town, service is efficient and friendly, and generally it's a very pleasant experience with surprisingly good food.

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    Heidelberg's flair, remaining from the 70s...

    by JessH Updated May 15, 2007

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    One of my favourite streets in Heidelberg
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    Of course the main street through Heidelberg's old town is the city's main attraction and is crammed full with shops, restaurants, cafes and street vendors. But if you need a little break and are open for some alternative & unusual things, take a step aside and walk down to the Heumarkt / Untere Strasse.

    Here, there aren't any crowds. There is more shade & relief from the summer's heat and in winter you don't have to dodge so many people on slippery ice; it is quieter and there are some real hidden gems that you wouldn't find amongst the "tourist hot spots":

    WELL, now that you're here:
    > Enjoy some lunch or refreshments at a smaller, older and more personal cafe / deli.
    > Discover some of Heidelberg's "Hippie Shops" where you can find anything from Indian Incense, to Thai silk, African furniture, fantastic alternative music and so much more.
    > You'll also come across small bookstores and old, family-run confectionaries.
    > There is also a lady with a lovely shop selling healing crystals, spiritual books, etc. and she also offers personal life coaching sessions, meditations, etc. I really like her and always stop-by and say "hello" when I'm in town. (her shop is right next to the fountain statue, see picture)

    It's amazing how close this little gem of a street is to all of the hustle & bustle of the old town, yet the local residents aren't much disturbed by all of that craziness because hardly any of the "people traffic" ever filters down here. To me, these little streets are the "essence" of Heidelberg's spirit.

    --> How to get here?
    This is very close to the University Platz (between the Hauptstrasse and the Old Bridge / Neckar River) If you are walking on the Hauptstrasse towards the Kornmarket & Church, turn left when you see the shop "Belobene" & "Starbucks" (Now, listen to me: walk straight PAST Starbucks and have a coffee in one of the nearby family-owned cafes!)

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