Heppenheim (Bergstraße) is the southernmost district capital in Hesse, located about 60 kilometers south of Frankfurt.
For more than a dozen centuries, this has been a wine country, where you will want to linger amid the vineyards and the retail shops, soaking up the local ambience the way grapevines soak up the sun.
Soil truly makes the difference in wine quality, and the sandstone enriched base here brings an elegant fruitiness to the Riesling vintages for which the Bergstrasse is renowned. Whites account for about 75% of the town’s output, but the reds that come from the local Pinot Noir grapes are powerful and also well received.
Befitting its viniculture, the town hosts an acclaimed international wine festival. With a half century of history, the Weinmarkt now draws huge crowds for ten days at the end of June each year, featuring live music daily, special guest celebrity appearances, public wine tastings and much more.
Upon a hill overlooking the town and its green vineyards from a height of 295 meters stands the medieval castle Starkenburg. Built in 1065, it is the oldest castle in the Oldenwald area. It now houses a youth hostel with 121 beds, so you may want to make this unique venue your base during your stay.
One landmark you will surely want to see while in town is the breathtakingly massive Parish Church of St. Peter. Also known as the “Cathedral of the Bergstraße,” it is not an old structure, erected as recently as 1904, but it does contain a superb pipe organ, saved from fires and destruction of an earlier church, which dates back to 1700.
One of the country’s most successful private theaters is the Festspiele Heppenheim, with evening performances and street shows scheduled throughout late summer, from mid-July to early September. You can join more than 30,000 visitors who come to be entertained here, as the actors recreate a medieval atmosphere. Relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the fun!
Lastly, this town gained worldwide popularity due to the successes of Sebastian Vettel, the Formula 1 racer who lives in Heppenheim.