This page is intended to cover all of the assorted cities in the Rhine-Neckar region we visited. This area is centered on Mannheim which we never actually went to, but we definitely circled it. First up was the town of Speyer which sits along the Rhine. There's an air and space museum here as well as some sort of aquarium but we were just stopping by to visit the cathedral.
The cathedral is a massive impressive construction of red sandstone. In fact, it is so imposing from the outside that it is actually a bit disappointing once you enter. It's nearly hollow with three Romanesque aisles but there is surprisingly little decoration and no stained glass to speak of. An assortment of 11th and 12th century emperors are buried here.
The town of Speyer is small and compact and stretches away from the river and the cathedral. We wandered around it and the park land until we had used up the time on our parking ticket and then moved on.
Worms is also best known for its cathedral but having just visited Speyer we decided to skip this one. We were impressed with the Nibelungen Bridge over the Rhine crossing into Worms.
Next stop was Schwetzingen which is located somewhere in the middle of all these cities. It is best known for the enormous castle - palace - garden complex that was once the residence of Palatinate Electors.
The palace can be toured separately from the gardens. The gardens are enormous and may require a map (or a digital photo of the map at the entrance).
There is a hedge maze of sorts, flower gardens, an orchard, a landscaped lake with its own island and assorted formal gardens scattered about.
There are also some unusual outer buildings. There is a neo-classical bath house as well as reconstructions of a Roman temple and a purposefully decaying pagan Greek temple that seems to have mostly been built so that elaborate themed parties could be staged there.
There is also a mosque that isn't really a mosque complete with fake minarets and a well� cloister sort of attachment. Really there's no telling what you'll come across here. We even happened into a photo-shoot for lingerie models.
Just a few miles from Schwetzingen is Heidelberg which sits on the Neckar River. We spent a lot of time walking around in Heidelberg, partially because we couldn't quite figure out the trolley system. There's not really anything complex about it although it services the outlying areas of Heidelberg much more thoroughly than the old town.
The old town is pedestrian only for the most part. Of all the places we visited on this trip, we heard English spoken more often in Heidelberg than anywhere else. It might be more common than German in some parts of town.
Heidelberg also has a large castle presiding over it. We didn't visit it because we'd spent much of the morning walking around Schwetzingen but it looks impressive from the Neckar River bridges. Walking along either side of the river here is very scenic but you have to dodge joggers, roving pack of bicycles and the occasional car traffic.
Lorsch is a small town just north of Mannheim. On a hill to one side of town are the ruins of Lorsch Abbey which was prominent for almost 1000 years starting in the 8th century. Of the remaining structures this entrance gate is the most impressive.
This would have been the view of the cathedral at the time although now only one small section is left. The foundation of the cathedral is visible as are several sections of the walls. This is a very peaceful hilltop to visit. The town itself is small, quiet and not very touristy - which is a good thing after Heidelberg.
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