English Tourist Guide

A project by students of the technical school of Heidenheim.

Explore the City Center

Carefully renovated buildings, churches and the pedestrian zone, historic squares and well-kept parks – a stroll around the city opens your eyes to the beautiful sites in the city.

Altes Rathaus - Old City Hall - Hauptstraße 34

The Altes Rathaus is at the heart of the Hauptstraße (Main Street). The building, which has a certain elegance because of its simplicity with its beautiful balcony on the second floor and a ridge turret that formerly served as a bell tower, is built of Jurassic limestone from the Heidenheim stone quarries and the oolith quarries in particular. Incidentally, parts of the Vienna City Hall were also built with this solid stone. The year 1846 under the coat of arms on the eastern gable wall refers to the date on which it was completed. The Old City Hall was transformed into a Kulturhaus (Cultural Center) after the move to the newly built city hall in 1972. Today it houses the Tourist Information
Office and the Stadtbibliothek (Public Library). The current name of the building is a reminder of Elmar Doch, who was Lord Mayor in Heidenheim from 1957 to 1969. A glockenspiel plays melodies according to the season three times a day (11:30 am, 12:30 pm and 4:30 pm).

Knöpfleswäscherin Fountain - Hauptstraße 34

The Knöpfleswäscherin Fountain, which was named after a woman who washed dumplings, enlivens the square in front of the Elmar-Doch-Haus (Elmar-Doch-House). The sculptor Albrecht Kneer created this original bronze sculpture, which was presented to the public in 1984, according to the following anecdote: a local woman wanted to take a basket full of Knöpfle, a local speciality that is vaguely comparable to yeast dumplings, to her husband at work. On the way, she stumbled and the basket and Knöpfle both fell onto the road. The woman was not embarrassed by a pragmatic Swabian solution to the problem: she washed the Knöpfle in the River Brenz and took them to her husband without much fuss. He tasted the Knöpfle and didn‘t notice anything at all. Since then, people living in Heidenheim have therefore been given the nickname Knöpfleswäscher.

Rathaus - City Hall - Grabenstraße 15

The tour continues from the Old City Hall along a narrow lane directly to Grabenstraße (Trench Street). The Rathaus, which was completed in 1972, underlines the urban dominance. The design was created by a group of architects from Stuttgart who won the first prize in a competition in which 38 architects participated. This building enabled all the municipal departments to be housed together again under one roof in the city center. A piercing ring with a diameter of 2.4 meters – a piece of art that was created during the Sculptor Symposium in 2001 – is a special feature that can be admired on the façade of the Rathaus.

Pauluskirche - St. Paul's Church - Christianstraße 10

Pauluskirche stands directly behind the Rathaus in parklike surroundings, lined with beautiful trees. It was built based on the plans of the royal court architect Felix von Berner and inaugurated in 1898. The church, built mainly of red brick in a neo-Gothic style, is an outstanding example of historicism. It is also worth mentioning the relief in the gable area above the main entrance that was created by the artist Hermann Lang. Pauluskirche is the largest church in Heidenheim and the main Protestant church at the same time. It is a landmark in the city center with its almost 75 meter high tower. The typical urban contrasts of Heidenheim become apparent on the way back to Rathausplatz (City Hall Square) in Grabenstraße. The different architectural styles clearly show the so-called changing zeitgeist.

Türmle and Remnants of the Town Wall - Grabenstraße 26

Remnants of the town wall and the Türmle, a small half-timbered tower can still be found a stone‘s throw away to the south. This Bürgerturm (Citizens‘ Tower) is the last of the original six watchtowers and four gate towers of the medieval town fortifications. It was incorporated into the existing eastern section of the town wall in approx. 1400. The brick tower was covered with a domed roof at the end of the 18th century and then the half-timbered cladding was added, which still exists today. This space is currently used as exhibition rooms for the Heidenheim Art Association.

Former Mittleres Tor - Pfluggasse and August-Lösch-Straße

The tour continues in a southerly direction along Grabenstraße to Pfluggasse (Plough Alley). From there you have a wonderful view of Schloss Hellenstein (Hellenstein Castle) that floats above the city like a crown [F]. The light colored limestone paving on the ground in Pfluggasse, to the east of the former tavern Zum Pflug, indicates the location of the former Mittleres Tor (Middle Gate). This gate tower marked the eastern entrance to the town since the Middle Ages and was built back in the 13th century. The tower was taken down in 1780 due to dilapidation and simply replaced with an archway in 1781. The gate was finally removed in 1828.

Schloss-Apotheke - Hauptstraße 51

The tour continues along Pfluggasse into Hauptstraße (Main Street). The corner building has been the home to a pharmacy since the middle of the 18th century. The current appearance of the Schloss-Apotheke (Castle Pharmacy) with its gabled dormer and imposing bay window looking down towards Hauptstraße was shaped by rebuilding work undertaken in 1900. The neighboring building from 1680 was renovated in 1982, exposing the original visible half-timbered constructions on the upper floors. An interesting art nouveau balcony railing can be seen on the first floor.

Former Unteres Tor and Medieval Groundwater Well - Hauptstraße 88

Light colored stones in the ground at the southern end of Hauptstraße mark the location of the lower gate tower of the medieval town fortifications. Recorded in writing for the first time in 1333 with reference to a Niederes Tor (Low Gate), the Unteres Tor (Lower Gate) was built between 1519 and 1609 and was only re-opened again in conjunction with the construction of the weaver settlement Im Flügel. The gate tower was renovated in 1773 / 1774 but the Unteres Tor was also sold for demolition as early as 1838. Just a few meters to the east, a modern wellhead is a reminder of the location of a draw well on the inner side of the former town wall.

Weavers Settlement - Im Flügel

The tour turns right into the Flügel [H], an area where weavers settled, at the end of Hauptstraße. Duke Friedrich I of Württemberg, an important patron of the Heidenheim economy between 1600 and 1604, built approx. 35 houses in a row next to each other in front of the southern town gate. The settlement was intended to make it easier for weavers willing to move to Heidenheim to settle here and thereby intensify this profession, which has been of importance here since the Middle Ages. The loom stood in the basement of the narrow houses and the other rooms were used for residential purposes. The shape of the long row of houses gave the now listed settlement its name.

Altes Eichamt (Bürgerhaus) - Hintere Gasse 60

The tour leads you back to the southern end of the Hauptstraße and turns left at the Schloss-Apotheke pharmacy into the Hintere Gasse and the old city of Heidenheim. The most striking building is the Altes Eichamt, the old Office of Weights and Measures, dating back to 1688 that was used as the town clerk’s office until 1821. It then housed the Royal Supreme District Court until it became a school in 1839. The building served as the Office of Weights and Measures for 100 years from 1874. It was completely refurbished between 1978 and 1980. The Altes Eichamt has become the central meeting place for the residents of Heidenheim since then. It is the most beautiful half-timbered building in Heidenheim with its impressively designed eastern portal, magnificent exposed half-timbered façades and overhanging floors. The Hintere Gasse is a historic, romantic street with small shops, restaurants and some very nicely renovated private homes.

Former Jail - An der Stadtmauer 8

The tour continues in a northerly direction to the rear of Elmar-Doch-Haus. Then a multi-story house can be seen on the hill to the left. This was the location of the former jail that was built as a watchtower around 1417 with the western section of the city wall. It was used as a prison in later years and demolished at the end of the 18th century. The remaining stones today form the base of the multi-story house. The area around the former jail is the oldest and most romantic part of the former castle settlement.

Uhuloch - Owl Hole - An der Stadtmauer 6

The top floor on the western gable end of the northern outbuilding was extended up to the medieval city wall. This created a passage in which owls and eagle owls are said to have lived. A tiny bit of old Heidenheim has still remained on this footpath. The Heidenheim castle flowers with their delicate white flowers can be admired in the gardens in the summer.

Birthplace of Johann Matthäus Voith - An der Stadtmauer 6

Heading down the stairway takes you to the front of the Uhuloch building. Johann Matthäus Voith was born in the inconspicuous gabled house on 29 April 1803. He laid the foundations for the present-day global company Voith by expanding his father’s locksmith’s shop into engineering works. Johann Matthäus Voith sold the house in which he was born in 1837 and moved the expanding business to the former grinding mill on the Brenz River. It is not known when the house was built but the wooden ogee-shaped lintel on the eastern side of the building is likely to have originated from the first half of the 16th century.

Former Local Administration Building - An der Stadtmauer 3

Back in the Hintere Gasse, head in a northerly direction and then turn left onto the footpath and former bridle path to Hellenstein Castle. One of the oldest stone buildings in Heidenheim can be found at the north western section of the city wall – the old local administration building.

Michaelskirche und Vicarage - An der Stadtmauer 1 and 2

The Protestant Michaelskirche (St Michael’s Church) is based on the late Romanesque Chapel of St. Nicholas (1210 - 1220). It was rebuilt several times and extended to the north in 1621 / 1622. The dome shape on an octagonal upper floor with colorful ceramic panels, which still exists today, was added to the church tower in 1668. 35 previously concealed early Baroque panel paintings were found during the renovation between 1965 and 1967; these were mainly created by the Heidenheim painter and Mayor Gottfried Enßlin (1600 - 1682). 27 of the panels adorn the galleries of the church and eight are on show in Hellenstein Castle Museum. An oil painting with the adoration of Jesus by the Magi hangs in the chancel. It was probably painted in the studio of Antonis von Dyck, a student of Peter Paul Rubens. The vicarage next to Michaelskirche was built in 1771. The half-timbered façades were uncovered in 1981 when the exterior of the building was renovated. The romantic setting is also called Heidenheim’s painters’ corne . The half-timbered vicarage, the steep wall of the local administration building and the immense northern entrance portal to Hellenstein Castle form the backdrop.

Platz der Partnerschaften and Eugen-Jaekle-Platz

Just a few steps further to  the north, the tour takes you out of the once medieval city to the Platz der Partnerschaften. Mosaic coat of arms embedded in the pavement show the Heidenheim coat of arms as well as the coat of arms of Heidenheim’s twin towns and cities: Clichy (FR), St. Pölten (AT), Newport (UK), Sisak (HR), Döbeln (DE), Quinjiang (CN) and Jihlava (CZ). “Gates” lead to the Eugen-Jaekle-Platz at the western corner of which  there is a fountain with the so-called Wedelbüble, the statue of a small boy. Mayor Jaekle arranged for the Wedel, a torrent of water that flowed through the city each year when the snows melted, to be covered in 1929.

Former Gasthof zur Krone and Post Office - Hauptstraße 22

Heading back in a southerly direction into the pedestrian zone, there is a 30 meter long building on the right-hand side with rows of Baroque windows on the first and second floors. Originally this was two closely adjoining  half-timbered buildings from the 15th and 16th century, the post  office and the Zur Krone inn. The Thurn & Taxis post office was  also established here around 1749. King Ludwig I of Bavaria and Emperor Wilhelm I are said to have stayed overnight in the Krone.  Only a few steps away in a southerly direction it is impossible to overlook the Knöpfleswäscherin Fountain in front of the old City Hall and now you arrive back at the starting point of your city tour.

Hellenstein Castle

Schloss Hellenstein, which towers majestically over the city,  is a landmark in Heidenheim that is visible from miles around. Its thick walls have defied the harsh Eastern Alb climate and an extremely varied history since the Staufer period. Several paths lead up to it from the city, the busiest is the one that leads to the south gate. Visitors get a great view of the remains of the Staufer castle. The citizens of Heidenheim owe the fact that the Runder Turm (round tower) can still be seen today to a ban issued by the royal building authority in 1837 stating that no further stones should be removed from the walls. The top floor of the Runder Turm was removed in 1810 and the “demolition  and sale of the roof and the incorporation of the old castle” was  approved in 1820. Gradually the curved stones dating back to the Staufer dynasty, which for many centuries had been feudal lords of the castle built in 1120, disappeared one by one.

Staufer fiefdom

Degenhard of Hellenstein built the castle in the form that has still been preserved in parts to the present day, which earned him the reputation of being the actual founder of Hellenstein. Degenhard of Hellenstein frequented the court of Barbarossa and was so appreciated by the Staufer emperor that he appointed him “procurator of all royal states in the Swabian region”. When Degenhard of Hellenstein died without a male heir, the castle and rule of Hellenstein were passed on to his son-in-law Ulrich I of Gundelfingen in 1183.

Rescue of the Fruchtkasten

The path through the south portal leads directly to the huge Fruchtkasten (cereals warehouse), which decisively shapes the view of the castle from the city. Payments in kind, mainly cereals produced by the Heidenheim subjects, were stored in the three-storey building built in 1470 / 71, which is divided into two naves by the massive oak pillars. In 1857 there was a threat to sell the Fruchtkasten against which the citizens of Heidenheim were opposed and in particular the “Society for improving the Appearance of the City”, which was set up in 1842. The city  of Heidenheim restored the Fruchtkasten from 1982 to 1986 at a cost of DM 4.6 million, half of which was provided by the state of Baden-Württemberg and the now award-winning Museum für Kutschen Chaisen Karren (museum for carriages, chaises and carts), which provides an overview of the types of vehicles and transport development from the 18th century to the present day, opened therein.