Experience Germany Like a Local

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A Sweet, Romantic Heidelberg Souvenir with History

One of my favorite city souvenirs is local sweets, and Heidelberg has a great piece of edible history that you can take home with you and share. It is called Studentenkuss, which translates to student kiss. It is made with nougat on a waffle bottom, covered in dark chocolate. Let’s dive into the history of this product for a moment and imagine Heidelberg in 1863.

During the nineteenth century, young women were often only allowed in public, when they were accompanied by aunts or older sisters. Contact or meetings with men were therefore only possible under the supervision of an extra set of watchful eyes. The Café Knösel in Heidelberg became a popular meeting point for young ladies of the local girls' boarding school, but also for students of the Ruprecht-Karls-University.

Café operator and confectioner Fridolin Knösel invented the student kiss in 1863, a delightful, sweet treat. The chief attraction, besides the great taste, was the packaging. The student kiss chocolate came in a small box, often accompanied by a handwritten message which could not be seen by the chaperones of the young women. This made it much easier for the young men to flirt and communicate with the adored girl. Even without a handwritten message, printed on each chocolate foil, is a student of a student union with student cap and a young woman right before they are about to kiss. If you receive a chocolate like this, you know that someone has feelings for you.

Café operator and confectioner Fridolin Knösel invented the student kiss in 1863, a delightful, sweet treat. The chief attraction, besides the great taste, was the packaging. The student kiss chocolate came in a small box, often accompanied by a handwritten message which could not be seen by the chaperones of the young women. This made it much easier for the young men to flirt and communicate with the adored girl. Even without a handwritten message, printed on each chocolate foil, is a student of a student union with student cap and a young woman right before they are about to kiss. If you receive a chocolate like this, you know that someone has feelings for you.

Much time has passed since 1863, but the students kiss chocolate still exists today as an amicable reminder of bygone, romantic times. The sweet idea of Fridolin Knösel developed into a small piece of Heidelberg's history and is still produced fresh several times per week. The original Café Knösel, where the Heidelberg student kiss was invented, was sold and does not belong to the Knösel family anymore. The student kisses, however, are still made and sold by the Knösel siblings, two houses away from Café Knösel.

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What We Saw at the Kurpfälzisches Museum in Heidelberg

Centrally located in the middle of the pedestrian zone, the Kurpfälzisches Museum der Stadt Heidelberg, Electoral Palatinate Museum, is located inside the Palais Morass, a Baroque palace building. The history of the museum dates back to the initiative of the French emigre, Count Charles de Graimberg, who from 1810 began to devote himself to preserve the history of the Heidelberg Palace and the Palatine Princely House. His collection of coins, pictures and altars as well as sculptures (over 3,500) are the foundation of the Kurpfalz Museum.

The art collection of Charles de Graimberg was purchased from the city in 1879 and the museum was opened in 1908. After adding a new building in 1991 adjacent to the palace building, the collection grew immensely, and makes the museum experience itself a wild adventure of different styles of rooms, floors, and exhibits. It feels like the inside is so much bigger than the outside lets on. Besides collections of paintings from the 15th to the 20th century, you can also find sculptures, porcelain, Heidelberg city history, and costumes from a bygone era. Denise fell in love with Karl Weysser’s painting ‘Alte Poststation in Heidelberg mit Blick in die Seminarstrasse,’ and finding a postcard with the artwork on it in the gift shop made her very happy.

Besides art, there are also numerous archaeological finds in the museum, mainly through the remains of the Roman Neckar Bridge, which was discovered in 1877. Further archaeological excavations in Heidelberg and the surrounding palatine area after WWII, made the collection grow considerably.

History, art, porcelains, historical costumes, archaeology, period interiors, the Kurpfälzisches Museum der Stadt Heidelberg has something for everyone, and we enjoyed it very much! For more information regarding visiting hours and the history of the museum, visit their official site Kurpfälzisches Museum.


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Visiting the Student Prison and Old Auditorium of Heidelberg University

The unusual and beautiful aspects of Heidelberg University, Germany. Notes from our visit to the Student Prison and Old Auditorium, with photos.

Studentenkarzer, Student Prison
On the back of Heidelberg’s Old University building lies the Studentenkarzer, which was a student prison. From 1778 to 1914, students were jailed in this building, being punished for trivial offenses such as nightly disturbances or public intoxication. At that time, the university still had its own jurisdiction so that an official could impose punitive punishment. The arrest lasted anywhere between three days to four weeks, depending on the offense.

The unusual and beautiful aspects of Heidelberg University, Germany. Notes from our visit to the Student Prison and Old Auditorium, with photos.

As you head up the worn and uneven stairs, you will see graffiti and art everywhere: on walls, above the doors, and even on the ceiling. Upstairs are five prison cells, big enough for two or three students to share a cell. During the first two days of confinement, students were only provided with bread and water. Starting day three, visitors could bring them food and even beer. Students were not allowed to leave the building during their sentence, but they were permitted to attend lectures for the university through a connecting door from the prison. In the end, the time spent in the Karzer was a lot more comforting than it sounds, since the cells were spacious, and had desks and regular beds in them.

The unusual and beautiful aspects of Heidelberg University, Germany. Notes from our visit to the Student Prison and Old Auditorium, with photos.

Many students spent their time immortalizing themselves on the walls with their faces, visions and the signs of their respective student connections. These original fixtures and graffiti can still be seen today. Even Mark Twain visited the Studentenkarzer and mentions it in his book, A Tramp Abroad; “The walls were thickly covered with pictures and portraits (in profile), some done with ink, some with soot, some with a pencil, and some with red, blue, and green chalks; and whenever an inch or two of space had remained between the pictures, the captives had written plaintive verses, or names and dates. I do not think I was ever in a more elaborately frescoed apartment.”

Mark Twain visited the Studentenkarzer and mentions it in his book, A Tramp Abroad; “The walls were thickly covered with pictures and portraits (in profile), some done with ink, some with soot, some with a pencil, and some with red, blue, and green chalks; and whenever an inch or two of space had remained between the pictures, the captives had written plaintive verses, or names and dates. I do not think I was ever in a more elaborately frescoed apartment.”

If you visit the student prison, buy a combined ticket, which will not only include admission to the student prison, but also to the University Museum and the Alte Aula, Old Auditorium. The museum will be of limited interest if you can't read German, but be sure not to miss the Alte Aula inside the museum. It is on the back side of the Studentenkarzer. Step out onto the cobblestone street and walk around the building to enter the museum.

The Alte Aula was designed for the 500th anniversary of the university in the year 1886. The architect Josef Durm created the neo-Renaissance style room, that was originally built in a baroque style. Today, this magnificent room is mainly used for academic ceremonies such as the opening lectures of newly appointed professors or graduate celebrations. The Alte Aula is also a venue for public concerts and lectures to give the venerable ambience of this auditorium a special glow.

Alte Aula, Old Auditorium
After entering the museum, take the staircase one floor up and turn left into the hallway. On the right side of the hallway you can enter the Alte Aula. The interior of the auditorium - as it is still visible today - was designed for the 500th anniversary of the university in the year 1886. The architect Josef Durm created the neo-Renaissance style room, that was originally built in a baroque style. Today, this magnificent room is mainly used for academic ceremonies such as the opening lectures of newly appointed professors or graduate celebrations. The Alte Aula is also a venue for public concerts and lectures to give the venerable ambience of this auditorium a special glow.

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Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler