Sinsheim lies at the heart of the Kraichgau region between Heidelberg and Heilbronn. The Kraichgau has been settled since ancient times and is one of Europe's oldest cultural areas. Our earliest European forefather, homo heidelbergensis, inhabited the region more than half a million years ago.
The discovery of his fossilised jaw bone in a quarry near the village of Mauer between Sinsheim and Heidelberg in 1907 attracted worldwide publicity. Scientists estimated the age of the fossil at between 620,000 and 750,000 years old. Sinsheim was first historically mentioned in 770 in the Lorsch Codex, in which a certain Hagino bequeathed a courtyard in "Sunnisheim" to the monks of Lorsch. The Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV awarded the town its charter in 1192.
The oldest existing seal showing the Imperial Eagle dates from 1300. Sinsheim was pledged to a series of different feudal lords in the 13th and 14th centuries, including the Margrave of Baden, the Lords of Gemmingen and Hirschhorn, and the Palatine Counts. Goethe travelled through the town in 1797 and wrote of a "cheery country town" in his journal Dichtung und Wahrheit (Poetry and Truth).
Sinsheim was a noted centre of the democracy and freedom movement during the European revolutionary period. After a merger with the districts of Eppingen and Neckarbischofsheim in 1924, Sinsheim became a county town. In the period after World War II, the town took in tens of thousands of refugees. In an administrative reform of 1973, the old rural county of Sinsheim was abolished and the town absorbed a number of outlying communities to become a "large county town".
Situated 22 kilometres south-east of Heidelberg, Sinsheim belongs to the state of Baden-Wurttemberg. The town of 35,000 is known around Germany for its Auto & Technik Museum just off the A6 Autobahn, opposite which a new stadium for Bundesliga 2 outfit TSG 1899 Hoffenheim is currently under construction.
Pride of place at the Auto & Technik Museum go to a Concorde, a Tupolev Tu-144 and a retired Lufthansa 747 jumbo jet, alongside an extensive collection of Formula 1 race cars. The city is bisected by the Elsenz, a small tributary of the Neckar which is not navigable. Burg Steinsberg, an old fortress in the village of Weiler dating back to the 13th century with an octagonal tower, and sometimes called the "compass of the Kraichgau", is the town's principal landmark.
The Burg has been in municipal ownership since 1973. The inner courtyard, a superb events location, hosts a summer drama festival, with the Steinsberg Festival and further theatre events at other times. Another historic landmark is the Michaelsberg Abbey tower, part of a Benedictine monastery established in 1100.
The original monastic buildings and the associated outhouses are well worth a visit. The old hospital was constructed beneath the abbey in 1803. Services were provided by a duty doctor and a female attendant. Even servants and journeymen would be offered accommodation for a couple of nights. The centre of Sinsheim is also rich in historic buildings. The town boasts a sizeable trade fair facility hosting year-round exhibitions.
More than 4,000 townspeople work in manufacturing industry. Sinsheim hosts a number of amateur theatre groups, including the Würfeltheater, the Friedrich-Hecker-Theater, the Max-Weber-Theater and the Sinsheimer Theaterkiste. The latter employs professional directors on a variety of productions including popular, children's, cabaret, classical and comedy shows.
Auto & Technik Museum
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim are rarely out of the headlines at the moment. Hoffenheim lies four kilometres to the west of Sinsheim, where the new TSG Arena is under construction. Dietmar Hopp, co-founder of the SAP software giant, is the wealthy patron behind the minnows' breathtaking ascent through the divisions. The club won promotion to the fourth tier of the German game in 2000, repeating the feat and gaining admission to the third division south just a season later.
TSG Hoffenheim were promoted to Bundesliga 2 in 2006-07. The current head coach is former VfB Stuttgart and Schalke 04 boss Ralf Rangnick. Construction of the St. Leon-Rot women's football academy is also underway on an adjacent site.