Facts about Heidenheim
Heidenheim (Brenz) is situated in Germany’s federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, close to the border of Bavaria. The river Brenz flows into the Danube. 47.000 people live in the city of Heidenheim. Both landscape and climate are determined by the low mountains of the Swabian Alb. How to get to Heidenheim? If you travel by car, take the A 7, B 19, or B 466. If you travel by train, take the Brenzbahn (you will find Brenzbahn connections in Ulm and Aalen). Heidenheim’s landmark is Hellenstein Castle which overlooks the city. The oldest parts of this site date back 700 years and so does the city centre below. Industry plays an important role in Heidenheim, especially the companies Voith and Hartmann which are the biggest employers. Schools and nursery schools in Heidenheim are exemplary throughout Baden-Wuerttemberg. Baden-Wuerttemberg’s University of Cooperative Education stands on top of the education system. Both the city centre and the countryside can be found at short distance. To its benefit, Heidenheim hosted the State Garden Show in 2006 which turned the cityscape more beautiful and modern. Throughout the year, the local calendar is filled with many events. Heidenheim’s Opera Festival, its football club 1. FC Heidenheim and the Fencing Tournaments are known all over Germany. In the neighbourhood of Hellenstein Castle, Heidenheim’s football stadium Voith-Arena, the Congress Centre and the Open Air Theatre attract many people.
The landscape around Heidenheim - divided into the regions of Brenztal, Haertsfeld and Albuch - is characterised by water, forests and juniper heathlands. The river Brenz has been and will always be the city’s main artery. Within the administrative district of Stuttgart, Heidenheim is the most densely wooded municipality. The juniper heathlands with their grassland and sheep pastures are particularly attractive. In Heidenheim, the countryside is never more than a 10-minute walk away.
The river Brenz has its source in Koenigsbronn and flows into the Danube. 40 million years ago, the Brenz was 90 kilometres longer than today. Containing more water, it trenched deeply into the mountains. However, many of its sources got lost by and by. The rivers Kocher, Jagst, Lein and Rems found a much shorter route to the sea, flowing by the rivers Neckar and Rhine. Today, the river Brenz flows calmly, because along its total length of 55 kilometres, there is a gradient of only 80 meters. Since it flows so slowly, the Brenz filled up its own riverbed again with a layer of clay and brash. This layer is 70 metres thick and represents the ideal place to build a city upon.
The district of Heidenheim comprises Germany’s biggest water protection area. Within the water supply system, large tubes conduct water right to Stuttgart. The Swabian Alb, consisting of limestone, is a huge drinking water reservoir. This lime originates from sea animals which had lived in the Jurassic Sea. Carbonated water dissolves limestone, creating holes, fissures and caves in which water can gather. This kind of geological formation is called karst.
In 2006, Heidenheim hosted the State Garden Show with the ultimate ambition to bring the river Brenz back into cityscape. The biggest part of the Garden Show area has been used as a park until today. Regarding the Brenzpark’s maintenance, the Brenzpark Friend Association (“Brenzparkverein“) assists the city of Heidenheim. This association features the so-called “green classroom” and a cultural series called “summer in the park“. The Volksbank arena is a platform for big music and cinema events. The fairground at Noerdlinger Strasse is Heidenheim’s venue for exhibitions and fairs as well as for circus guest performances.
In the Brenz valley, you will find the city centre with public authorities, schools, shops and banks. Hellenstein Castle overlooks the old town. The Congress Centre, Schlosshotel and Open Air Theatre are located right next to it. The castle’s hill merges seamlessly with the municipal forest with its game park, high ropes forest und birds of prey station. Heidenheim’s hospital and the football stadium “Voith-Arena“ are also situated in the castle’s vicinity.
Due to the availability of water, many industrial sites have been established in the Brenz valley. In the beginning, mainly paper and textile industry could be found there. Later, Voith added some mechanical engineering plants. The city grew considerably bigger with increasing industry. Today, 20 times more people live in Heidenheim than 200 years ago. The city needed more space, so it expanded into the side valleys and then also up the sunny slopes. After World War II, new residential areas developed on top of the hill.
Forests cover 60 per cent of Heidenheim’s total surface. The forests in the Albuch region, i.e. in the area to the west of the Brenz valley, are particularly attractive. On the Hochberg Mountain, there is one of Heidenheim’s ski lifts which is used by mountain bikers in summer.
The region Haertsfeld is situated in the area east of the Brenz valley. On the Haertsfeld plateau, there is agriculture and forestry. Until 200 years ago, iron ore was extracted in mines on the Haertsfeld. The blast furnaces were located in the Brenz valley, hence the street name “Schmelzofenvorstadt“ (which means “furnace suburb“) and the name “Schmittenberg” (which means “smiths’ mountain”). Our ancestors used charcoal for these furnaces, but the wood consumption was so high that there were no more forests left 200 years ago. In Rotensohl, the Wengert family runs the last traditional charcoal production within the district. A local parking is therefore called “Heidenheimer Kohlplatten“ (which means “charcoal kiln platform“), but its name has nothing to do with a vegetarian meal (the German word “Kohl” also means “cabbage”). Speaking of cabbage, Swabians would rather use the German word “Kraut” instead of “Kohl” anyway.
Junipers are evergreen shrubs or trees. They have slim leaves that look like needles. Their little cones are also called juniper berries. Junipers are very tough plants which stand both coldness and aridity. Sheep and other pasture livestock don’t eat these plants. If a flock of sheep grazes the heathlands, junipers will be left over. On the shepherds’ hiking trail, hikers will discover the most beautiful heathlands while watching the flocks wandering through their pastures.
As a modern industrial city, Heidenheim is mainly characterised by two global players: Voith is setting standards on the markets of energy, oil and gas, paper, raw materials, transportation and automotive. Hartmann produces goods for medical care and hygiene. The work environment in Heidenheim has been subject to important structural changes. Over the last years, simple jobs in production have become fewer and fewer. However, skilled workers don’t need to be worried about finding a job. The region of eastern Wuerttemberg is highly innovative: its rate of patents per inhabitant is only exceeded in Munich.
The region of eastern Wuerttemberg consists of the administrative districts of Heidenheim and of Aalen (the so-called „Ostalbkreis“ district). The major cities in eastern Wuerttemberg are Aalen, Schwaebisch Gmuend, Heidenheim, Ellwangen and Giengen. These cities have divided the most important authorities among themselves. In Aalen, there is the “Agentur für Arbeit“ (Employment Agency), which also has an agency in Heidenheim. The regional committee and the association for the promotion of trade and industry in eastern Wuerttemberg, called WiRO (acronym for “Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft für Ostwürttemberg“), are situated in Schwaebisch Gmuend. The chamber of industry and commerce is in Heidenheim, whereas the chamber of crafts is in Ulm and has a district office – the local crafts guild – in Heidenheim.
Trade and commerce have joined forces in an association of service providers and shopkeepers, the “H.D.H.” which stands for “Heidenheimer Dienstleistungs- und Handelsverein”. This association organises events and represents the interests of business people in the city centre. In the district of Schnaitheim, there is a similar association, called “Die-Fachgeschäfte“ (the specialist stores). Mergelstetten’s counterpart is called “SiM“ which stands for “Self-employed in Mergelstetten“.
Voith was founded in 1867 and is one of Europe’s big family businesses. The company’s name goes back to Johann-Matthaeus Voith (1803 to 1874) who was born in Heidenheim. Voith has more than 42.000 employees world-wide and sites in more than 50 countries.
Paul Hartmann AG is more than 200 years old. Ludwig von Hartmann was the owner of a cotton spinning company. His son Paul Hartmann turned it into a dressings factory. Today, about 1.800 employees work for Hartmann in Heidenheim and approximately 9.500 do so world-wide.
With about 1.500 employees, Heidenheim’s hospital is also one of the city’s big employers. Currently, the building gets enlarged and modernised in several steps. The new building C, which includes a noticeable helicopter landing area on its roof, has already been accomplished. The hospital comprises twelve specialist clinics and four outpatient clinics.
About 600 employees work for Carl Edelmann GmbH in Heidenheim and 1.530 people work for it worldwide. The new headquarters are situated at the road to Goeppingen and the buildings look like big cardboard boxes. Edelmann is one of Europe’s leading packaging producers.
Epcos AG employs a staff of about 430 people and produces capacitors. Depending on whether they will be part of an electric locomotive or part of a watch, these electronic components can be as big as a beer barrel or as small as a seed.
About 300 employees of Erhard GmbH & Co. KG produce valves for big water and gas pipes.
In E. Schwenk KG’s big site at the outskirts of Mergelstetten, some 200 employees produce cement from extracted lime and clay.
The neighbouring city of Giengen is known worldwide due to Margarete Steiff. The company “Bosch-Siemens-Hausgeräte“ produces cooler units whereas Ziegler GmbH & Co. KG provides equipment for fire brigades.
Heidenheim has been awarded a prize by IHK (chamber of trade and commerce) because the city is attractive for specialists and executive staff. Also, Heidenheim has been honoured to be Germany’s 100th Fairtrade City. The grammar school “Hellensteingymnasium“ is the first Fair-trade School in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Heidenheim’s municipal council has decided that the city’s purchasing should pay attention to fair-trade and sustainably produced goods.
The “Schloss-Arkaden“ with its 40 stores is the biggest shopping mall in eastern Wuerttemberg. Since its opening in 2004, Heidenheim has been attracting many more customers than before. This is a benefit for all stores in the city centre. Heidenheim’s catchment area is bigger than the district itself and includes 160.000 people. Therefore, trading turnover is 50% higher than the total amount that local people would be able to spend.
Heidenheim’s hotels “Schlosshotel” and “NH Hotel” are well frequented. The Schlosshotel was built in 2009 together with the Congress Centre. The number of Heidenheim’s conference guests has increased ever since. Many conferences, exhibitions and cultural events also take place in the Voith Arena’s “Sparkassen-Business-Club”, in the Concert Hall or in the “Lokschuppen” (former train shed). Tourism has become an important economic factor within a few years only.
Heidenheim’s event calendar is very full throughout the year. This is not only because of the high number of public and private organisers or because of the great locations. In fact, Heidenheim is such a lively city thanks to its numerous shops, cafés and pubs. The “Schloss-Arkaden“ is the biggest shopping mall in eastern Wuerttemberg and attracts more than 20.000 people a day. Heidenheim’s urban quarters look friendly and well-groomed. Short distances between living, working, school and leisure contribute to the city’s high liveability.
In 2006, Heidenheim hosted the State Garden Show and the Brenzpark came into existence. Today, this park is the most popular place of excursions in Heidenheim, especially for families with children who enjoy the big play area. The park is as big as the city centre itself and also offers rest and recreation. The “Volksbank Arena” is part of the Brenzpark and the location for regular open air concerts as well as for a Family Day combined with the city’s children’s festival. Next to the Brenzpark, there is Heidenheim’s fairground which features regular fairs and a guest performance of a big circus once a year.
The second big park in Heidenheim is the “Schlossberg“ (castle’s hill). A footpath leads through a lime tree alley from the old town up to Hellenstein Castle. The game park starts in the area behind the Open Air Theatre. Walkers can observe deer, boars, mouflons, ibexes, chamois and waterfowls here. Birds of prey live in a separate station within the park. Eagles, owls and falcons perform some tricks in the air. Right next to the Voith Arena, there is the entrance to a high ropes forest where courageous people can move from tree to tree, only using ropes and catwalks. The castle’s hill attracts many people, e.g. 10.000 supporters gather when a 1. FC Heidenheim football match takes place. The Open Air Theatre welcomes more than 40.000 guests every year. The Opera Festival attracts 15.000 music enthusiasts per season. During the four-day event „Schlossfest der Wirte“ (culinary festival), the best chefs from the environment offer culinary delights.
The city centre includes a pedestrian zone which is directly linked to a big shopping mall, the “Schloss-Arkaden”. However, the Schloss-Arkaden and the pedestrian zone offer more than just shopping facilities as there are also many cafés and pubs. Some caterers feature cultural programmes in their locations. Since most companies are situated in the city centre, caterers are well frequented at lunchtime and in the evenings. Heidenheim has two cinemas, one of them is located in the city centre, and the other one is at “In den Seewiesen”. The international street festival and the „Kueferfest“ (coopers’ festival) are the major events taking place in the city centre every year.
Heidenheim’s urban districts of Schnaitheim, Mergelstetten, Großkuchen and Oggenhausen are animated places which all have their own communal life based on the existence of associations, multi-purpose halls, sports facilities, schools and companies.
Short distances between living, working, school and leisure contribute to Heidenheim’s high liveability. Busses operate in regular intervals; the bicycle tracks are constantly being extended in order to achieve a more complete network. Housing is affordable for every budget. Several quarters have been renovated based on of federal funding programmes. Numerous modern apartments have just been built in the city centre’s best residential area.
Heidenheim’s Opera Festival has an excellent reputation across the whole of Germany. It is an Open Air Festival that takes place in the Castle’s Great Hall or, in the case of unfavourable weather, in the Festival Opera House (i.e. Congress Centre in Heidenheim). Heidenheim also features a professional orchestra called “cappella aquileia“. The Art Museum exhibits rotating collections of 20th century and contemporary works. Its collection of Pablo Picasso graphic reproductions is unique in the world. Moreover, there are three history museums. Every year, Heidenheim’s Open Air Theatre welcomes 45.000 enthusiastic spectators.
Cultural life in Heidenheim is based on a dense network of public and private establishments. The city of Heidenheim is responsible for the Opera Festival which has continued to improve its excellent reputation thanks to the musical direction of Marcus Bosch. The “Cappella Aquileia – Wuerttemberg’s Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra of Heidenheim“ is conducted by Marcus Bosch and acts as an ambassador for the festival city of Heidenheim. Marcus Bosch was born in Heidenheim and went to school there. Since 2011 he has been General Music Director of the Bavarian State Theatre in Munich and of the Nuremberg Philharmonic Orchestra. There are three series of cultural events: “Theaterring“ (Theatre Ring), “Meisterkonzerte“ (Master Concerts) and “Kulturschiene” (Culture Track). With each event from those series, Heidenheim welcomes either stars of the music and theatre world or cabaret and comedy celebrities.
Heidenheim’s Art Museum is in possession of the world’s most comprehensive graphic reproductions collection of Pablo Picasso. Dr. Alfred Gunzenhauser has donated works of famous 20th century painters to his native city of Heidenheim. Picasso’s works of graphic art and pictures from the Gunzenhauser collection are part of the permanent exhibition in Heidenheim’s Art Museum. The museum is situated in the former Public Bath, (German: “Stadtbad”) a beautiful Art Nouveau building. Its former swimming pool is a big hall for temporary exhibitions of modern art today.
The “Museum Schloss Hellenstein“ comprises several rooms of Heidenheim’s castle, including the castle church and the bailiwick hall (German: “Obervogteisaal”). It is mainly a museum of local history. In Hellenstein Castle’s “Fruchtkasten“ (location where the grain tithing used to be stored) visitors can find the Coach Museum today (German: “Museum für Kutschen, Chaisen und Karren“). This museum shows the history of rural traffic before the existence of cars and railways. The world’s oldest taxi is definitely the star of the museum. The “Museum im Römerbad“ (Museum in the Roman Bath) has been built on the remnants of a monumental Roman official building. 2.000 years ago, Heidenheim was an important military and administrative centre since it was located directly at the border of the Roman Empire.
In the middle of the pedestrian zone, you will find the “Elmar-Doch-Haus”. Until 1971, it was Heidenheim’s town hall. Today, you can find the public libraries there. Until 2016, the city of Heidenheim will build a new public library right next to the town hall. In the Elmar-Doch-Haus, you will also find the adult education centre and the tourist information.
Heidenheim is a city of music, but not only for professionals. The Voith orchestra or the Municipal Brass Band are only a few examples, but there exist many more music orchestras and bands. Also, there are many choirs, e.g. the “Oratorienchor“ and the choral society “Sängerclub“. Every summer, a rock and pop music festival takes place in the Brenzpark. Particularly gifted adolescents of the entire region have joined in the “Young Philharmonic Orchestra” or the “Young chamber choir “. Heidenheim’s schools are outdoing one another featuring their big bands, pop and jazz groups and choirs. One very successful example is the Schillergymnasium’s “New Chamber Choir”. High-level church music is mostly presented in the Protestant church Pauluskirche as well as in the Catholic church Marienkirche. The municipal music school is cooperating with all existing associations in the music sector.
Modern art is prominently present in Heidenheim’s public space. Most of the works originate from the Sculptors’ Symposium. A group of several artists has gathered in the west of Heidenheim now. The group had previously been accommodated in the former WCM factory buildings. They regularly organise a showcase called “open“. The association “Kinder und Kunst“ (children and art) is operating in the Art Museum. The city’s Art Association has some exhibition rooms in the “Tuermle“, which is part of the old city wall.
Heidenheim’s biggest cultural association is the Open Air Theatre. Every summer, two major plays are performed outdoors whereas in winter, performances take place in an auditorium. The actors also travel to other cities in order to perform a winter fairy-tale. In Baden-Wuerttemberg, Heidenheim’s Open Air Theatre performances are considered to be a measure for other amateur theatre groups. The “Sasse“ is a small theatre at the outskirts of Schnaitheim. Furthermore, several ballet and dancing schools perform high-level dance theatre on stage, ranging from break-dancing to classical ballet.
For both cultural professionals and the public, Heidenheim offers excellent premises. Since 2009, the Congress Centre along with the Schlosshotel has proved to be a perfect venue. The Congress Centre’s core is the Martin Hornung hall. According to musicians from the famous orchestras which have already performed in this hall, its acoustics is excellent. Heidenheim’s Concert Hall is 100 years old and its charm contrasts with the modern Congress Centre. In the Brenzpark, the “Lokschuppen“ (former train shed) is the ideal place for cabaret. Concertgoers also appreciate the festival room in the Independent Waldorf School. The Volksbank Arena and the fairground are part of the Brenzpark and serve as locations for open air concerts, fairs, circus performances and other major events. The Voith Arena’s “Sparkassen-Business-Club“ (business club sponsored by the German bank Sparkasse) can accommodate more than 1.000 guests.
In Heidenheim you will find premium sport facilities for competitive sports as well as for school and club sports. The new stadium Voith-Arena is the home of 1. FC Heidenheim. The team promoted to Germany’s 2nd football league in 2014. Also, Heidenheim is an important national fencing centre. Not only Heidenheim’s baseball team, but also its trick cyclists and female gymnasts are successful on a national and international level. Heidenheim hosts important competitions in motocross, swimming and equestrian sport.
For half a century, fencing has been the kind of sports that Heidenheim made a name of itself. Every year, the sports association “Heidenheimer Sportbund (hsb 1864)“ and the city of Heidenheim organise the Fencing Days in the Congress Centre. The world’s best epee fencers meet there to fight for Heidenheim’s Fencing Cup. In parallel to this, the men’s team fights for the “Coupe d’Europe“ (European Cup). Heidenheim’s Fencing Centre is the home of the German national fencing team and Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Elite Sport Centre including a partial boarding school.
Formerly, the soccer team was a division of the sports association “Heidenheimer Sportbund”. In 2007, the soccer team split off and founded the new association called “1. FC Heidenheim 1864”. Within less than ten years, its athletic success led from regional leagues to the third German Soccer League. In the season of 2013/2014, 1. FCH promoted to the second German Soccer League. The new stadium Voith Arena includes a Youth Elite Sports Centre.
The baseball division is a particular branch of the Heidenheimer Sportbund. Its first team has played in the federal league for years, it includes several internationals. The team itself has also been internationally successful. Heidenheim’s baseball stadium is said to be one of the finest in southern Germany.
The women’s gymnast team performs in the second German federal league. It is the biggest division of Heidenheim’s sports association and its level of achievement is higher than ever before.
Every year in April, the „Schwimmstartgemeinschaft Heidenheim“ (Heidenheim’s swimming association) hosts an international swimming festival. Trainings and the competition take place in the „Hellensteinbad Aquarena”. This indoor swimming facility comes with a pool that is 50 metres long. Besides, there is a diving pool, an outdoor pool, a children’s pool and a big sauna world. From May to September, Heidenheim’s public outdoor pool called “Waldfreibad” is open. In addition to the 50-metres-pool for swimmers, there is also a non-swimmer pool and a children’s pool. Its location next to the forest and many old trees within its green space make the Waldfreibad particularly attractive. In the schools of Heidenheim’s districts Schnaitheim and Mergelstetten, there are swimming pools for teaching purposes.
The „MSC Schnaitheim“ organises qualification runs for the German motocross championship which take place on the association’s ground widely known as “Hafnerhäule”.
The equestrian club’s facilities in Heidenheim stage a big jumping tournament every year.
There exist sports associations in all of Heidenheim’s districts. Apart from Heidenheimer Sportbund, the major associations with numerous divisions are SV Mergelstetten and TSG Schnaitheim. SV Mergelstetten includes the world’s champions in trick cycling. Gymnasia and open areas are available for usage by sports associations everywhere. Thanks to a sports facilities development plan, the city is well equipped regarding to sports. This plan had been elaborated in cooperation with the sports associations and could be implemented within a few years only. All sports associations collaborate within the municipal sports committee.
The two ski lifts in Heidenheim and in Schnaitheim feature floodlight. The ski lift at the Hochberg Mountain in Heidenheim is used for cycling in summer. A downhill course runs alongside the lift. In winter, the plateaus at an altitude above 600 metres are well suited for cross country skiing. As soon as snow conditions permit, the tracks are perfectly groomed. Cross country skiing is particularly appealing in the Brenzpark. If there is enough snow in the valley, tracks get prepared there as well.
The Swabian Alb is an ideal place for hiking and cycling. The city of Heidenheim and the district administration have elaborated numerous tour proposals.
It is impossible to list all sports facilities, associations and offers within this text. The following internet site provides a good overview in the sports portal: heidenheim.sportalis.de
In Heidenheim, Baden-Wuerttemberg’s University of Cooperative Education has almost 2.500 students in four faculties. There are four secondary schools, vocational grammar schools, private schools and also some special schools for pupils with learning difficulties. A programme called “Zukunftsakademie“ is intended to encourage the interest of children and young people in natural sciences and technology. Heidenheim is spending twice as much money on education and childcare as other cities.
In the Brenz valley, there have always lived smart and talented people. The Heidenheimer Hermann Mohn discovered the “Vogelherd“ cave in 1930. Until today, mankind’s oldest works of art have been excavated from this cave and from several other caves on the Swabian Alb. These precious finds made from mammoth ivory have been accomplished by Stone Age people. In Niederstotzingen, the new archaeological park (German: “Archäopark”) near the Vogelherd cave shows the fascinating history of these works of art and takes guests back 40.000 years.
In Heidenheim, education and childcare are the political top priorities. There are several establishments for each type of school. Qualification for university entrance can also be acquired at the vocational schools of the Heidenheim district as well as the Independent Waldorf School. The Friedrich-Voith-School has become a comprehensive school. At eastern Heidenheim‘s “Ostschule“ and at Mergelstetten‘s Silcherschule an education centre has been established respectively. This means that children from the age of 2 up to the age of ten have been regrouped leaving aside the categories of nursery and school. The city of Heidenheim guarantees a place in a day care centre for every infant and for all children from the age of 3. Nurseries and schools offer all-day child care for both children and young people. Standards are very modern in almost all nursery and school facilities. The schools Eugen-Gaus-Realschule, Friedrich-Voith-Schule and Hirscheckschule will be under construction in the next few years.
The administrative district runs several vocational schools in Heidenheim. Special schools for pupils with learning difficulties exist in Heidenheim and Herbrechtingen. The local crafts guild has set up a training centre for metalworkers that is located right next to the vocational training centre. The chamber of trade and commerce offers basic and advanced training courses in its premises in Ludwig-Erhard-Straße.
Heidenheim’s Zukunftsakademie (Academy for the future) is located in a nice old industrial building right next to the Brenzpark. Its aim is to promote talented children and young people from nursery schools up to their general qualification for university entrance. As is usual for State Garden Shows, there was also a “green classroom“ in Heidenheim in 2006. Today, the “green classroom“ still exists as an offer of the Brenzpark association. The municipal music school is located in a building of its own, the former school “Olgaschule”, which is situated in direct vicinity of the central bus station.
Baden-Wuerttemberg’s University of Cooperative Education is very successful in Heidenheim. The number of students is constantly increasing and has already achieved almost 2.500 people. Space became scarce in its former premises in Wilhelmstrasse, so a new university building, cubic and seven storeys tall, was established in Marienstrasse. The University of Cooperative Education offers the following degree programmes: economics, engineering, social pedagogy and health science.