Schwetzingen is a quaint little town located about fifteen minutes to the southwest of Heidelberg, and is probably Heidelberg's (and Mannheim's) premier suburb. It has an aura of affluence to it without being affluent, and the Schloßgarten -- the castle gardens -- attract thousands from the area on every sunny day during the spring through fall.
The gardens are huge, covering several acres and filled with flower gardens, statues, temples, fountains, and ponds. The below view shows the back side of the castle far off in the distance from behind the main lake.
The gardens in between are very decorative, and contain hundreds of varieties of flowers from around the world.
The places is dotted with temples and statues. Most of the temples are for mythical gods -- there is a temple to Apollo, Mercury, Athena (no, they weren't all consistently Roman or Greek). The temple to Apollo doubles as the backdrop for a stage, where concerts and plays are conducted during the summer months. There are also 'artificial ruins' (as in a building designed specifically to look like a ruin) in the form of an old temple on one side and an aquaduct wall on the other, a bird sanctuary, and a large Turkish mosque (pictured at left -- you can also make out one minaret poking through the trees to the right).
After a good, long walk, you will likely be ready for a couple drinks or a good solid meal. Right outside the gates to the castle is the main marketplace, lined with restaurants, coffee houses, and stores. Just around the corner is the town's main pedestrian area, which is a shopper's paradise and the locations of Schwetzingen's many annual festivals. The largest eatery, located right outside the castle gate, is the Schwetzingen Brauhaus, a top-quality brewery with enough room under the umbrellas for over five hundred volksmarchers.
Needless to say, I have spent quite a bit of time enjoying Schwetzingen, and if you are in the Heidelberg area for more than a day, you should make time to head out to Schwetzingen also.
Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2002 Tom Galvin
* - Ok, dude/dudette, it's pronounced schloss-garten, not SHLOB-garten.