Enjoy superb views of Heidelberg’s Old Town from the tower of this 14th-century church, which took nearly 150 years to build.
The Church of the Holy Spirit (Heiliggiestkirche) dominates the skyline of Heidelberg’s pretty historic center. Admire the arresting façade, spot a set of intricate stained-glass windows and climb to the top of the tower for expansive city panoramas. Attend organ recitals, chamber music and choral performances. Although the Church of the Holy Spirit origination dates back to 1398, building work continued until 1544.
Walk around the outside of the church to get a sense of its imposing size. It is one of only a few city landmarks to have never been destroyed by wars and bombing raids. Interesting features include the tall tower and the series of large Gothic-style windows. Built into the church’s walls are a number of stalls, where vendors sell religious paraphernalia and souvenirs.
Step inside to discover a high nave lined with thick columns and a vaulted ceiling. From 1706 to 1936 a partition wall divided the nave to allow both Catholic and Protestant services. Take time to appreciate the detailed craftsmanship of the stained-glass windows, including the Physics Window showing Einstein’s equation with the date of Hiroshima’s atomic bomb. Look for the tomb of Prince Elector Ruprecht II, the last surviving of more than 50 tombs of the Prince Electors of the Palatinate that were once located here.
Climb to the summit of the 125-foot-tall (38-meter) tower and marvel at the sweeping views. Spot major city landmarks such as Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg City Hall and Karl Theodor Bridge. Look down on Market Square, which marks the center of the Old Town. The square’s cafés are ideal for people-watching.
The church is a 15-minute walk from the Heidelberg-Altstadt U-Bahn station. Several public bus lines stop on nearby Neckarstaden Street. Parking is available for a fee at a garage on Karlsplatz Square.
The Church of the Holy Spirit is open daily and has free admission. Pay a fee if you wish to access the tower. Guided tours in German take place on the first Sunday of the month from March to October and have a fee. Organ concerts are performed from Sunday to Friday between June and September.