Heidelbergers have a case for calling their home Europe's cradle of civilization. In 1907, the jawbone of a human species closely related to Homo Erectus was uncovered at nearby Mauer. That "Heidelberg Man" body part is thought to be around 600,000 years old.
Situated in south Deutschland, amid wooded hills on the Neckar river, 800-year-old Heidelberg is Germany's original college town. Its Ruprecht-Karls-Universit?t was founded in 1396. The city is also steeped in religious history. It was here, for instance, that Martin Luther defended his 95 theses in 1518.
Fortunately, Heidelberg was spared World War II bombing raids. Today its 135,000 folks and 28,000 students enjoy a home instilled with romance as well as elite scientific research. Sigmund Romberg's musical "The Student Prince" was set here, and Heidelberg features the European Molecular Biology Lab, the German Cancer Research Center and five Max Planck Institutes.
Tourists are drawn to Heidelberg's Old Town -- its ruins are the setting for open air concerts and the annual Castle Festival.