Spend the day in Tübingen: History, education, old world charm

Tübingen. Photo by Shutterstock.com.

The university town of Tübingen is divided in more ways than one: the Neckar River flows through it, separating the old section  of town from the new.

It’s blend of history and modern culture has made it a unique tourist stop, as well as a residence for thinkers and poets.

Even though there is no campus, a dining hall that looks remotely like its American equivalent or even a lecture hall, the whole city is labeled “the University.”

Established in the 1400s by the Catholic Church as a theological academy, the university was established as an institution solely reserved for men. Monks discussed questions about God and life with their students in Latin or Greek.

Today, the university offers more than 140 different degrees, including medical professions, art, music, law, Japanese studies and more. Students from all over the world come here to learn.

Tübingen’s international culture can be seen and felt when strolling along the cobblestone streets that weave through the town’s center. Italian ice cream parlors, Turkish and Greek restaurants and other ethnic stores are tucked within the mix of small shops lining the narrow streets.

The city of Tübingen has preserved many of its historical buildings, such as the university, which adds to the charm of its small alleyways and old wood-frame houses.

The historical Marktplatz hosts an open-air market on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“This is where the local farmers offer their produce and products,” said Elisabeth Tielsch, a city tour guide. “Some of the vendors are private folks who grow some stuff in their garden and then sell it here.”

Street musicians add to the unusual atmosphere of this market, which also offers fresh bread, eggs, meats and flowers.

A ride in the Stocherkahn (small punt boats) is also very popular in Tübingen. The narrow boats glide up and down the Neckar River. From the boats, riders can view a picturesque little island in the middle of town and the remnants of the old city walls.
Tielsch, who is not a native to Tübingen, once studied American culture here in town and now gives tours in English. “I try to make the tours interesting for everyone,” she said, but there is one challenge: there is just too much to see and explore.

For more information, visit www.tuebingen.de.