School and college life is usually associated with fun and mischief by most, more by some than others. Ever imagined how life would have been if there was a special prison designed for students, on your college campus?
Our visit to Heidelberg, Germany, brought us to such an unusual well-preserved museum of sorts (for want of a better word). Heidelberg is known as being Germany’s oldest and most reputed university. It is believed that the US spared Heidelberg from bombing during World War II due to the presence of this university.
During our visit to the town, we came across the unique history of the town and were surprised to discover a Student Prison on the Heidelberg tourist map!
As we traversed up a floor of stairs, we did not know what to expect really, when we started to see these black side faces painted on the walls.
And a lot of other graffiti as well..
As the story started to unfold, the guide explained that during the 19th century the most mischievous of the university students were kept locked up in these rooms as punishment. The prison although called so wasn’t really in any dreadful condition but was only meant to keep these students in isolation and teach them a lesson.
But as kids are, they turned this punishment into a kind of rite of passage. All students wanted to get into the prison at least once before passing out of university! This led to a rush of students into the prison with frequent parties and even more unruly behavior. The prison was eventually shut down but has been well-preserved since then.
The most iconic of the graffiti are the black faces. It is said that the students used to pass time by painting portraits on the wall. One person stood in between the wall and a lamp, while another painted the silhouette on the wall using carbon from the lamp. The different color caps are supposed to represent the various houses that the students belonged to.
Most of the original furniture has been preserved well in the prison.
How to reach
Augustinergasse 2, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Heidelberg is an hour’s train ride from Frankfurt. The town is best traversed on foot as everything is in walking distance.
Apr to Oct – 10 am to 6 pm
Nov to Mar – 10 am to 4 pm (Closed on Sundays)
Entry Charges: €3