Nature, Activity, Recreation: Romanticism in Germany – Odenwald forest


TouristikService Odenwald-Bergstraße
Marktplatz 1
64711 Erbach
Tel: +49 (0)6062 9433-30
Fax +49 (0)6062 9433-33
[email protected]


The best way to travel to the Odenwald forest by air is via Frankfurt Rhein-Main, Germany’s biggest airport. From here, there are excellent connections by rail or road to all of the major towns and cities in the region. One of the special attractions is the Madonnenlandbahn railway, which links the main tourist destinations.

Odenwald forest – half-timbered architecture, the Bergstrasse and UNESCO Geopark

Odenwald forest is located in the south-west of Germany. This area of uplands is known for its romantic countryside with meadows, forests and valleys. It is bounded by the Main and Neckar rivers and the “Bergstrasse” region with its centuries-old wine making tradition. In the summer, you can visit its idyllic villages with houses that are resplendent with dazzling displays of flowers, and in the autumn the fairytale-like landscape is dominated by the colourful broadleaf forests. Designated a UNESCO Geopark, the Odenwald forest also features a number of medieval town centres.

Half-timbered architecture and lions’ heads in Michelstadt
Built in 1484, the late-Gothic town hall of Michelstadt is certainly one of the most unusual half-timbered buildings in Germany. Massive, heavy oakwood beams, rounded gables and turrets give the building its medieval character. The town hall stands on the market square, which also features the Renaissance- style Marktbrunnen fountain. Donated by Count Georg II zu Erbach in 1575, it is deservedly described as the most beautiful of Michelstadt’s many fountains.Home to the German Ivory Museum, the only one of its kind in Europe, a large market square on the banks of the romantic Mümling river and the Royal Collections at the castle, neighbouring Erbach is also well worth a visit.

Messel Pit Fossil Site – fossils preserved in oil shale
UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for the fascinating fossils from the Eocene period found during excavations, Messel Pit Fossil Site near Darmstadt-Dieburg is one of the region’s special attractions. Particular highlights include the very well preserved, fossilised remains of mammals and of the prehistoric horse, Hyracotherium. You can enjoy a guided tour of the Messel Pit or find out about the site and its history from the information boards. There is also an observation platform off ering a fantastic overview of this fascinating excavation site.

Robber barons on the River Neckar
Idyllically situated on the River Neckar, Zwingenberg Castle was built by Wilhelm von Wimpfen in the 13th century. The nephew of its founder called himself “von Zwingenberg”. But the von Zwingenbergs were driven from the castle in 1363 after being accused of being robber barons. Today, a descendant of the Grand Duke Friedrich von Baden owns this magnificent building. Every summer, a castle festival is held here at which a number of famous operas are performed. The festival centres around the musical work “Der Freischütz” (The Marksman) by Carl Maria von Weber, which was inspired by the nearby Wolfs Gorge.

Halloween German style
The over 750 year-old Frankenstein Castle, just a few kilometres south of Darmstadt, is associated with a wealth of legends and fairytales, truths and untruths, ideals of romantic chivalry and ghost stories. Doctor Frankenstein’s monster was the creation of English authoress Mary Shelley. Having taken a boat trip on the Rhine at the beginning of the 19th century, she is thought to have stopped off to visit the ruins of this castle and felt that the name of Frankenstein would make a good title for her horror novel. Today, the castle is a popular attraction with a restaurant and a diverse programme of events. Halloween is celebrated here in style every year.

The legend of the ‘Breilecker’
Breuberg Castle is still associated with the legend of the ‘Breilecker’ (porridge licker), formerly one of the castle guards. A long time ago, the residents of the castle were at war with the residents of Otzberg Castle, but the walls of the castle had withstood all of their attacks. One day, a piece of shot ricocheted off the wall and landed in the pot of porridge that the guards were making. One of them, Werner, licked the spilled porridge up and then jumped on top of the wall and stuck his tongue out at the enemy. Admired for his courage, his image was chiselled into the wall. Visitors can still see the head of the ‘Breilecker’ sticking his tongue out at everyone when the castle door is shut. The door also features an iron ring. It is said that whoever succeeds in biting through it will get the castle and all its lands.

Cider and cakes
Whatever time of year you visit the Odenwald  forest, you are sure to be greeted with an array of seasonal specialities. Lamb festivals are celebrated throughout the region in April, followed by the grünkern (roasted spelt grain) festival in July and the potato festival in autumn. During these times, the chefs of the region demonstrate how versatile these products are and just what you can magic out of them. The regional cider (apfelwein) is definitely worth sampling. And for dessert, there’s Viktoria Torte, a cake created especially for Queen Victoria consisting of a fruit filling covered with a light sponge and fruit jelly.


Tradition and history

Hospitality and gastronomy

  • Kochkäse cheese
  • Wine from the “Bergstrasse” region
  • Game
  • “Odenwald-Gasthaus” (only regional produce and recipes from the Odenwald forest)

Romanticism and charm

  • Weddings in Amorbach
  • Heidelberg Castle
  • Erbach castle
  • Breuberg Castle
  • Hirschhorn Castle
  • Christmas markets

Countryside and scenery

  • Alpine-Baltic Holiday Route
  • Birds of prey centre at Guttenberg Castle
  • Odenwald-Therme thermal baths, Bad König
  • Hydrotherapy health resort, Grasellenbach
  • Nordic climatic health resort in Lindenfels
  • Mount Katzenbuckel
  • Schwarzach wildlife park