We recently moved to Heidelberg. Touted as one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, Heidelberg is ancient and yet very young: it is a student town. Its pedestrian zone is extremely popular: after searching several times for documentaries on Heidelberg, all I could find were the documentaries full of “Hauptstrasse” or the main street – the pedestrian street. There are many more hidden treasures in Heidelberg – even just off the Hauptstrasse.
We have moved into a street off the quiet Plöck – the quieter parallel street to Hauptstrasse. My husband told our first visitor: “Plöck is where you see the life of locals – you see tourists in Hauptstrasse”.
I love both the tourist areas as well as the off the beaten path locations. Here is one small glimpse of one – just off the beaten path:
St Anna’s Heidelberg
Our neighbour, St Anna, is a church. She celebrates her 300-th anniversary this year: the anniversary of the start of construction of the church. She was rebuilt, along with the adjacent hospital, to replace the earlier building destroyed during the war. There was a well at the site known as “healthy wells” because of the good water. Today, both the hospital and the church stands. The hospital has become a care home for older people and the church is Catholic now.
Before moving, I had thought that the church bells would ring several times during the day – waking us up, destroying our afternoon sleep habits and our movie watching. When we moved in, the church was very quiet. It was just before Easter and the bells had gone to Rome. They came back on Easter but seemed quite introverted. They ring rarely. I am yet to figure out the timings for the chimes. On festival days they ring in the evenings at 5:45 p.m and then at periodical intervals but different intervals. At times, the organ sings out from the church and at yet other times, the choir is in full form – all these after the bells have rung out.
With a church right next door, and a Penny Markt (a less expensive supermarket), we expected the place to be bustling and full of people. We are not that disappointed: as we come out of the gate, we see friends meeting, homeless sitting, “hippy” like people wandering into and out of Penny Markt, people saying Goodbye as they go in different directions next to the wall of the church and many other activities.
Just as in history, outside the walls of the religious building, several different forms of life seem to spring off. In this University town, you also see today’s life reflected – just outside the church, the young have more time for the mobile than for the divine.