Heidelberg’s Hauptstraße is a popular car-free shopping street in the university town on the Neckar. It runs 1.4 km through the old town and connects the market square with the Bismarckplatz. During a stroll through the city, you will pass important buildings such as the Heidelberg Town Hall and many individual retail shops.
History of the main street
Even before the town was founded, a small traffic route ran along the site of today’s Hauptstraße. In 1391 the street gets its first name “Obere Gasse”. From 1491 onwards it is called “Große Straße” in town records and finally “Speierer Straße” in 1508. Only since 1689 it is called “Hauptstraße”.
From 1885, the city’s first horse-drawn tram line ran along Hauptstraße. At the beginning of the 20th century, it was the year 1902, the former horse tram was replaced by an electric tram line. The trams shared the road with the first cars. With increasing car traffic, the main street developed into a main traffic junction.
In 1969, the transformation began: it was closed to through traffic. In the 1970s, plans for the construction of a shopping street took shape. The tram line was relocated, the tracks were filled in and the street was transformed into a pedestrian zone. Today there are many shops, cafés, ice-cream parlours and important municipal institutions such as Heidelberg’s town hall along the Hauptstraße.
Shopping in Heidelberg
The Hauptstraße is one of the highest-turnover shopping streets in Germany. In addition, the street is considered one of the most beautiful pedestrian zones in Europe. Major city events regularly take place here – including the Heidelberg Half Marathon.
Shopping fans are thrilled at the sight of the many shops. International fashion brands line up next to traditional shops. During a stroll through the city, also take a look at the outgoing side streets! Here you will still find many owner-operated shops.
Stroll down to Heumarkt, for example, and browse through the small specialist shops. In the traditional shops of the city, great importance is still attached to personal customer contact and you will receive individual advice. Tradition is an obligation! Family-run boutiques can also be found in the Plöck and there are special shops with homemade arts and crafts as well as home design.
Prices get more expensive in Sofienstraße: here you will find high-end men’s outfitters and large furniture stores. As you can see: Heidelberg has something for everyone. And if you need a break from the hustle and bustle, visit one of the many cafés or ice cream parlours. Especially in summer, you can sit outside and watch the hustle and bustle on the main street with a cool ice cream café or a slice of cake before it’s time for you to move on, too.