Almost 5 years ago, I first blogged about the German town of Wilhelmsfeld when I featured José-Rizal-Straße, the first street outside the Philippines named after José Rizal. Wilhelmsfeld, which is about half an hour away from the more famous city of Heidelberg, was where Rizal spent a few months in 1886 writing the last chapters of his novel Noli Me Tangere. I wrote back then that when I find out where the Rizal Park in this town is located, then I would feature it. Finally that day has come!
Back in 2009, I tried in vain to look for Wilhelmsfeld’s Rizal Park. I’ve seen lots of photos of Rizal’s larger-than-life statue standing near the edge of a hexagonal reflecting pool and I thought that it would be easy to spot especially since Wilhelmsfeld is a small town. But I got nowhere.
Recently, I decided to look in Google Maps again and, lo and behold, I spotted the unmistakable blue hexagonal pool (as seen in the thumbnail image above) about half a kilometer south of José-Rizal-Straße. And I finally discovered the reason why I didn’t find it before: the park was obscured by trees! (Follow the links to Bing Maps or Here to see for yourself.) Fortunately, in Google’s current satellite imagery, which appears to be taken in early spring, the leaves on the surrounding trees are gone giving us a very nice view of Rizal Park from above. Rizal’s statue is even quite visible as a spot on the topmost corner of the hexagon.
Wilhelmsfeld’s Rizal Park started as an idea by Franz Joseph Weyand, then President of the Philippine-German Association in Mainz. He started a fund-raising campaign and his efforts culminated with the opening of Rizal Park on September 2, 1978. The bronze statue of Rizal, depicting him holding a quill pen and deep in thought, was commissioned to Prof. Anastacio Caedo, a well-known Filipino sculptor whose works include the MacArthur Landing Memorial in Palo, Leyte and the statue of Ninoy Aquino that used to be in Makati but is now in Tarlac.
Recently (around the year 2002), the park had an addition in the form of four busts of Rizal’s mentors and friends: Dr. Otto Becker, with whom Rizal studied opthalmology at the Heidelberg Eye Clinic; Dr. Rudolf Virchow, the person that made Rizal a member of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory; Prof. Ferdinand Blumentritt, possibly Rizal’s best friend in all of Europe; and Pastor Karl Ullmer, Rizal’s gracious host in Wilhelmsfeld.