Seeing Istanbul by night from the Galata Tower really inspired me for the travels I later took in Germany and Israel – specifically, I developed the philosophy that if there is a hill or mountain behind any sort of city or town, climb it! The views offered in reward for this are almost always worth it.
The first iteration of this rule in practice was the climbing of Schlossberg behind Freiburg with my mom. Although we had no idea what was at the top of the hill, we were treated to fantastic views of the city at the top. Also unbeknownst to us, but heavily implied by the mountains name (Schloss means castle in German), was the old fortifications of Medieval Freiburg – awesome!
In some cases, the views offered are actually better than the cities themselves. Staufen, a small village about an hour away from Freiburg, was the perfect case and point for this. Although the village offered a passing interest as the place where Mephistopheles apparently caught up to and killed Dr. Faustus , there was not much else to see.
Well, not much beside the extremely atmospheric remains of the town´s abandoned castle keeping vigil of the village below. The castle was perfectly located geographically too, so if you faced one way you had amazing views of the Black Forest whereas facing another direction gave you views of flat plains as far as the eye could see. I will admit too, in one of my nerdier moments, that climbing the hill into the castle and entering the remains reminded me all too much of Skyrim – I half expected bandits to be camping out there.
The best result by far though of this Golden Hill Rule came in Haifa, Israel. I was visiting my friend Mike, and we decided that we should absolutely visit the Bahaí Gardens while I had the opportunity (full post on that later). The upper terrace of the gardens was absolutely breathtaking, offering amazing panoramas of the city, bay, gardens, and Mediterranean. Haifa by far has my favorite type of geography in the world – semi-steep mountains sloping into a vast body of water. The only way it could have been better was if there were forests too…
So there you have it. Don’t be lazy – always make sure to climb that hill!