If you haven’t heard of Odenwald region in Germany so far, you are likely in very good company. Yet this beautiful small rural part of Germany is absolutely gorgeous. It’s also only about one hour drive time from Frankfurt, so it is a perfect getaway for the weekend.
Odenwald is an area of rolling green hills, lush forests and lots of fruit orchards, which go by the German name of ‘Streuobstwiese’. This basically means various fruits are grown on a single orchard, thus supporting a more traditional and sustainable produce and harvest.
Alongside a large number of hiking and biking trails through the hills and forests, there are a number of pretty little market towns that, once you enter their historic cores, seem as if they have remained stuck in time.
This lovely historic town dates back to the 13th century and once was an important centre of trade along the Main River.
The historic core of the town stretches over two and a half kilometres whilst it is less than 200 metres wide, squeezed between the Main River and the steep hills behind. It counts more than 100 half-timbered houses dating back from the 15th to 18th centuries, nestled along an pedestrian alley.
The historic market square ‘Schnatterloch’ is renown as one of the most idyllic squares in Germany. In fact, it was featured at the 1910 World Expo in Brussels. At the end of the square, a small alley leads into the forest and up the hill to the old castle.
Towering prominently above the old town is Mildenburg castle which was originally built around 1200 by the Archbishop of Mainz as a fortress to protect the eastern frontier of the diocese of Mainz. However, due to a lot of damage to the structure during several wars following the construction, large parts were re-built during the 16th century. The castle today hosts a museum of historic icon paintings and modern art.
Miltenberg is also home to Germany’s oldest inn and restaurant ‘Zum Riesen’ that was first mentioned in 1411 and once even hosted Napoleon Bonaparte.
The town was first mentioned in 741 and thus is one of the oldest towns in the Odenwald region.
Michelstadt’s historic core boasts a number of small cobble-stoned alleys lined with beautiful half-timbered houses.
There are also a number of small squares, however the most beautiful is the main square adorned with a large fountain dating back to around 1575 that is carved from sandstone. The square is aptly called Marktbrunnen, translating into market fountain square. On warmer days, plenty of al-fresco seating around the fountain invites to settle down for a coffee and some nibbles.
We certainly could not resist these fluffy apply pies.
The historic timber framed town hall at the edge of the fountain square built in 1484 is one of the most impressive buildings in the town. It’s main floor from the beginning served as a market hall and was built using jettying, which means the upper floor is larger than the covered floorspace below. The building was also once featured on a German post stamp.
In the middle of the old town you will also find an old castle – although it really looks more than an old grand house. It originates from a noble estate built in the 10th century although the parts that remain today were mostly built at later times, between the 14th and 17th centuries. Today the castle is home to a town museum located in the former winery warehouse.
To the west of the castle you will find Diebsturm (meaning thief’s tower) which was originally built as part of the castle and town wall during the 13th century but later on served as a prison.
Located in the Steinbach neighbourhood of Michelstadt, Fürsentau Castle was originally built in 1250 by the electorate of Mainz. It was later converted into a Renaissance palace during the 16th century and thus boasts an interesting mixture of styles. It remains a private property to this date but part of the estate is open to the public.
Founded originally as Benedictine monastery Cloister Amorbach, the area later grow into a small settlement and by the end of the 13th century was raised to the status of town.
The little town today still boasts a good number of baroque buildings, with the Benedictine abbey the most important. In fact, the dimensions of the complex are quite impressive. The abbey church also features a huge baroque organ with over 5,100 pipes creating a fantastic acoustic.
Or just marvel at those colourful houses you will find in the old core of this little town.
Check out the Odenwald distilleries
When travelling, I particularly love to check out the local culinary scene beyond restaurant visits which includes visiting local food stores and where possible producers themselves.
There are a number of small, mostly family-owned distilleries across the Odenwald producing excellent fruit brandies, mainly using fruits grown directly in the region. Many of them are actually combinations of family-owned and run hotels and/or restaurants and distilleries.
Distillery Kreiswald despite its small size offers a large range of fruit brandies produced with their own fruits from the Odenwald region. The distillery also offers courses to learn (and get certified) producing fruit brandies. Tours and tastings can be arranged for groups from eight to 15 people, otherwise there is a small shop where you can buy their brandies.
Im Kreiswald 9 – 64668 Rimbach – http://www.kreiswald.de
Obstbrennerei Göbel also arranges tours and tastings upon appointment and sells their brandies in their own little shop.
Kirchstraße 67 – 64354 Reinheim – http://www.obstbrennerei-goebel.de
Distillery Ernst Bulling over the years has won many national and international awards for their range of brandies.
Hotel Gasthof Destille Eisenbahn – Kantstraße 29 – 74821 Mosbach-Neckarelz – http://www.haus-der-übernachtungen.de
And finally, if you want to spend some time in the Odenwald and wonder where to stay, check out my post on the charming 4-star country hotel Schafhof Amorbach.
Are you familiar with the Odenwald region in Germany?