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Heidelberg Shopping

From: Heidelberg, Germany


ABOVE: Heidelberg's Zuckerladen, or Sugar Shop, features a mannequin in a dentist's chair, a huge assortment of sweets, and an owner with a sense of humor.


Heidelberg isn't likely to spawn a new volume in the Born to Shop series, and there are better places to buy Missoni dresses or Armani suits. Still, if you need the basics, you'll find plenty of stores to choose from, including outposts of such well-known chains as Kaufhof, H&M, and Jack Wolfskin.

photoHeidelberg's real strength as an Einkaufzentrum is in the niches. Sweets, for example, are a Heidelberg staple: Only the most tradition-averse tourist would leave town without buying at least one Heidelberger Studentenkuss, a confection of praline nougat spread on a wafer base and enrobed in chocolate. (The Heidelberger Studentenkuss was invented in 1863, when--according to legend--male university students would have waiters carry chocolate "kisses" to female students in the gender-segregated taverns of that era.) You can buy the edible smooches at any souvenir store, but the official Knösel Heidelberger Studentenkuss shop is on Haspelgasse near the Alte Brücke.

photoAnother popular candy store, the Heidelberger Zuckerladen, is a pilgrimage site for Uni students, children, and older folk who enjoy their Gummi Bears and other sugary sweets with a side dish of nostalgia. The old-fashioned shop is run by  an owner who hands out samples when the spirit moves him, and the dentist's chair in the shop window is a whimsical touch that appeals to visitors of all ages. Look for the Zuckerladen at Plöck 52, an east-west street that starts near the Peterskirche.

L'Epicerie, in the courtyard of Hauptstrasse 35, sells foods and gifts from the Mediterranean; across the hall is an upscale chocolatier, L'Epicerie Chocolat, where the cubes of drinking chocolate on stir-sticks make irresistible gifts or souvenirs.

If you'd rather indulge your literary tastes than your tastebuds, don't miss the bookstores around or near the Universitätsplatz. You needn't read German to enjoy them: Several have English-language sections, and you'll find guidebooks and maps for Heidelberg and other German cities.

photophotoLooking for something racier? There's a sex boutique near the Jesuitkirche (see photos at right). We mention the store because of its unique sign: The side facing the church is blank, having been painted over in response to a complaint from the church management (which apparently didn't want parishioners' thoughts turning from God to hanky-panky after Sunday services).

photoHeidelberg's most famous church, the Heiliggeistkirche, exhibits a medieval partnership between God and Mammon: The exterior of the church is lined with built-in stalls and shops where you can buy souvenirs, framed prints, and other non-religious merchandise.

photoMarkets are always popular with tourists, and they attract locals, too. From 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, you can buy raw mat, baked goods, jams, and other items on the Marktplatz in the Altstadt. You'll also find weekly or twice-weekly markets across the river in Neuenheim and Handschuhsheim.

photo copyright © Susanne Miltner.Käthe Wohlfahrt got her start in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but her year-round Christmas shop on the Hauptstrasse at the corner of Universitätsplatz is worth a visit if you enjoy the holidays out of season. (Carolin Miltner, the Christkind of Heidelberg's 2006 Christmas Markets, posed for the inset photo at Käthe Wohlfahrt.)

Shopping tips:

  • Department stores and branches of major retail chains are clustered around the Bismarckplatz (a hub for tram and bus lines) and the western end of the Hauptstrasse, which is said to be Germany's longest pedestrian zone.

  • Continue east along the Hauptstrasse toward the Marktplatz, and you'll find all kinds of other stores, both on the main street and in the little side streets. (The Altstadt is narrow, so you'll never have to walk more than a block or two from the Hauptstrasse.)

  • During the holiday season, be sure to visit Heidelberg's Christmas markets, where you can buy gifts, food, and hot Glühwein.

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