"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad


We put the FUN in 'Funicular'

Funicular = a railway up the side of a mountain pulled by a moving cable and having counterbalancing ascending and descending cars

One of Hedielberg's pride and joy is their funicular. Built in 1890, it is Germany's oldest and longest.

Here is the funicular arriving at the station. The cars are actually from the early 1900's. They have been carefully restored and the moving parts replaced with stronger, modern ones. The old, wooden car made for a very creaky, shaky ride, which left us a bit concerned for our safety.

Here we are inside the car

Our photographer friend Ross whose visit gave us the excuse to take this ride, and who kept referring to it as the "Vernicular." (By the way, although the father would like to take credit for these pictures, all the good ones were taken by Ross.)

We enjoyed taking in the views of Heidelberg from this new vantage point.
A close-up of the Heiliggeistkirche (Holy Ghost Church) and the Neckar River from the window of the funicular.
View of Heidelberg and the surrounding villages as we reached the top of the hill.
The funicular driver at work.
A funicular works on a type of pulley system. There are two cars that are connected by a metal cable that runs along the track. The one car actually acts as a counterbalance to the other car. The descending car's weight helps pull the ascending car up the mountain, and the ascending train keeps the speed of the descending train from going out of control. It's a simple machine at it's best!
About halfway up the track splits and you end up passing the other car that is going down. Our driver decided to show off for the camera by opening his door and reaching out to give the driver of the other car a 'high five' as we passed. Super cool!

Here is the station at the top. This part of the track is the steepest with a 43% gradient. You can feel the funicular slow down and lurch forward a little as it is pulled up this part. (It's like going up a hill on a roller coaster but without the free-fall that follows--unless the funicular cable breaks.)

When we got out of the funicular it was suddenly much colder and windier. This is the highest point in Heidelberg. It sits 550 meters above seal level and is fittingly named Koenigstahl (King's Chair). You could see across the Neckar valley for miles and miles. (Unfortunately you could also see a cloud of smog hanging over the towns.)

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of riding a funicular, watch this video and you can live vicariously through us and take your very first funicular ride.

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