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Heidelberg (hīˈdəlbĕrkh), city (1994 pop. 139,430), Baden-Württemberg, SW Germany, picturesquely situated on the Neckar River. Manufactures include machinery, precision instruments, leather goods, and tobacco and wood products. Most important to Heidelberg, however, is the tourism industry. Primarily focused on the Heidelberg Castle, the trade brings in several million visitors per year.

Heidelberg was first mentioned in the 12th cent. In 1225 it was acquired by the count palatine of the Rhine and until 1720 was the residence of the electors palatine (see Palatinate). The Univ. of Heidelberg (Ruprecht-Karl-Universität) was founded in 1386 by Elector Rupert I and is the oldest German-speaking university after those in Prague and Vienna. It became a bulwark of the Reformation in the 16th cent., declined after the Thirty Years War (1618–48), and, recovering after the French Revolutionary Wars, became the leading university of 19th-century Germany. Student life in 19th-century Heidelberg, with its duels, songs, and romance, is storied. The university's professors have included noted theologians, the chemist R. W. Bunsen, and the sociologist Max Weber. For six decades from 1952 the city was the headquarters of the U.S. army in Europe; the last U.S. troops left in 2013.

Heidelberg is famous for its ruined castle (built mainly in the 16th and early 17th cent.), which was largely destroyed by French troops in the late 17th cent. In the castle's cellar is the Heidelberg Tun, a gigantic wine cask with a capacity of c.58,080 gal (2,200 hectoliters). Other points of interest in Heidelberg include the city hall (1701–3) and the Philosophenweg (Philosopher's Way), a path overlooking the city. The Heidelberg Catechism was a profession of faith of the German Reformed (Calvinistic) Church, drawn up at the request of Elector Frederick III and published in 1563. It gained wide repute and was adopted by several Reformed churches.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in the Federal Republic of Germany, in the northern part of the Land of Baden-Wurttemberg, on the Neckar River near where it flows into the Rhine. Population, 123,000 (1968). Major industries include machine building, electrotechnical products, leather products, Pharmaceuticals, and surgical instruments. Site of the oldest German university, the University of Heidelberg.

Heidelberg, first mentioned in documents dating from the year 1196, came into the possession of the Wittelsbach family in 1225 and was the residence for the princes of the Rhineland-Palatinate until 1720. The city suffered heavy damage during the wars of the 17th century. In 1803, Heidelberg and part of Pfalz came under the jurisdiction of Baden.

On the left bank of the Neckar stands the elector’s castle, which was destroyed in the 17th century and only partially restored since. Those sections of the castle that have been preserved, including the Gläserner Saalbau (1544-46), as well as the Otto-Heinrichsbau (1556-59) and Friedrichsbau (1601-07) wings, are ranked among the finest monuments of the German Renaissance and early Baroque.


Scherer, R. Schloss Heidelberg, 2nd ed. Berlin, 1947.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a city in SW Germany, in NW Baden-Württemberg on the River Neckar: capital of the Palatinate from the 13th century until 1719; famous castle (begun in the 12th century) and university (1386), the oldest in Germany. Pop.: 142 959 (2003 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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The catechisms of Luther, like the Heidelberg and Westminster catechisms, have historically played a significant role in training Christians in faith-based discipleship.