Nature, Activity, Recreation: Romanticism in Germany – Kurhessisches Bergland region


Touristik Service Kurhessisches Bergland e. V.
Parkstrasse 6
34576 Homberg (Efze)
Tel.: +49 (0)5681 775 480 Fax: +49 (0)5681 710 614
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The region is easily accessible from nearby airports at Kassel-Calden, Paderborn-Lippstadt, Erfurt, Hannover or Frankfurt am Main. You can also get there quickly and easily by rail with services from Bebra, Bad Hersfeld, Kassel- Wihelmshöhe, Fulda and Eisenach stations. In addition, the Kurhessisches Bergland region has good road connections to major cities all over Germany.

Kurhessisches Bergland – magnificent architecture and scenery

Kurhessisches Bergland is a traditional hilly region in the centre of Germany. It is situated in North Hessen to the north-east of Frankfurt am Main, running into the Thuringian Forest in the east. The countryside features idyllic, lush river valleys, meadows and riverbanks along the Fulda, Eder and Schwalm rivers and the mystical Knüll hills, whose dense forests are thought to have given rise to the famous fairytale of “Little Red Riding Hood”. Discover a treasure trove of romantic timber-framed buildings as you journey through the region’s medieval towns.

Fritzlar – a former centre of imperial power and cathedral town
Experience a harmonious blend of timberframed houses dating from the 15th to the 20th century, the walls and towers of the medieval fortifications and the towering architecture of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Fritzlar. A former centre of imperial power, the town derives its name from the Old German for “place of peace”, marking the place where the spread of Christianity by St. Boniface began. With its enclosed halftimbered backdrop, the market square is considered one of the most beautiful in Hessen. Attractions of special historical importance include the ‘House of the St. Michael’s Brotherhood’ dating from 1480, the Wedding House and the Spitzenhäuschen, an ancient crooked house covered in wooden shingles dating from 1415 and the town’s oldest timber-framed house. At 37 metres high, the “Grey Tower” is the highest municipal watchtower still standing in Germany.

Melsungen – the ‘axe-whetter’ town on the River Fulda
The charming old quarter of Melsungen is lined with a succession of lovingly restored timber-framed houses. At its centre stands the historical three-storey half- timbered town hall dating from the 16th century where the symbolic figure of Melsungen, the ‘axe whetter’, appears twice a day. In the Middle Ages, the people of Melsungen lived primarily from tree-felling. The lumberjacks set off every morning for Bartenwetzer Bridge, built in 1595/96, on which they whetted their axes. You can still see the notches on it today.

Alsfeld – a European model for historic preservation
Take a journey into the past and discover Alsfeld’s medieval town centre, a superb monument to medieval and Renaissance town architecture. Once surrounded by an oval town wall with four town gates and filled with timber-framed houses, it dominates the town, which is one of the most striking and atmospheric in the Kurhessisches Bergland. The numerous half-timbered buildings, which provide a comprehensive overview of the history of woodbuilding from the late Middle Ages to the beginning of the 19th century, blend together to form a harmonious whole.

Roots of the Reformation – Homberg (Efze)
Homberg, the gateway to the Knüll hills, is one of North Hessen’s half-timbered gems with a fully preserved medieval townscape. Homberg derives its name from the ancient “derer von Hohenberg” knights, who owned a castle on top of the basalt peak which now lies in the heart of the town. At 150 metres deep, the castle well is Germany’s deepest walled and illuminated basalt well. The town of Homberg is still dominated by the Church of St. Mary, which made history as one of the largest Gothic hall churches in the Hessen region – it is regarded as the place where the Reformation began in Hessen in 1526.

A romantic moated fortress in Schwalmstadt
Situated on the German Half-Timbered Houses Route and the German Fairytale Route, Schwalmstadt will amaze at every turn with its lovingly restored half- timbered buildings. In addition to the ruins of the Totenkirche (Church of the Dead), the landmark of the Treysa district, the town hall with its Rolandbrunnen fountain stands out at the heart of an enclosed collection of medieval buildings. Parts of the old fortifications and the witches’ tower at the bottom of Steingasse are reminders of the town’s eventful past. In the Ziegenhain district, the site of the old and very important 16th-century moated fortress, the former bailiff’s residence is a real gem of timber-framed architectur.

Meat lovers are well catered for
In Kurhessisches Bergland people like their food hearty and spicy. The region has a strong tradition of home-produced meat delicacies and you’ll find a range of specialities on offer including liver sausage, blood sausage and Weckewerk, a sausage made of cooked brawn and minced meat, stock and bread rolls. Another classic is the Ahle Worscht, a pork sausage with a natural skin that is left to mature for a long time, smoked or air-dried and then well seasoned. The sausage can be kept for up to a year and is a “must-try” in the region’s traditional bars. It is served with a wedge of rye bread and a draught beer produced by the Hessian Löwen brewery. The region also has plenty of appeal for wine lovers. Try a glass of wine from the Böddiger Berg, the most northerly vineyard in Hessen.


Tradition and history

  • Wallenstein castle ruins
  • Schönberg chapel, Schrecksbach
  • Benedictine abbey of Breitenau, Guxhagen
  • Three castles in Felsberg Haydau Abbey and Morschen hunting lodge, Spangenberg
  • Blacksmith’s Museum, Guxhagen

Hospitality and gastronomy

  • Apple and potato festivals
  • Ziegenhain Salatkirmes fair
  • Whitsunday procession in Neukirchen
  • North Hessen Speciality Festival, Melsungen

Romanticism and charm

  • Alsfeld ‘fairytale house’
  • Europe’s oldest painters’ colony in Willingshausen
  • Historical market in Alsfeld
  • Weddings on Mount Hohenburg in Homberg (Efze)
  •  Medieval old town, Melsungen

Countryside and scenery

  • Schwalm Valley
  • Walking in the Knüll hills
  • Knüll wildlife park
  • “Fuldaauen” and “Ederauen” nature conservation areas
  • “Ars Natura” art trail
  • Raft tours on the River Fulda