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TouristikService Odenwald-Bergstrasse

Wine tip

Odenwald/Hessische Bergstrasse

Spring tends to arrive earlier in the Hessian Bergstrasse than in most other places. The best vineyards, many of them extremely steep, are on the slopes facing the Rhine valley. This wine-growing area of only 440 hectares produces mainly dry and medium dry wines. Many are rieslings but other grapes such as rivaner, pinot gris, silvaner, kerner and pinot blanc are also grown. The red varieties pinot noir, dornfelder and St. Laurent are gaining ground.

A window into the Earth's geological history ­ idyllic countryside meets modern architecture

Opinion is divided as to whether the name Odenwald means legendary forest or Odin's forest, but this low mountainous region in south-west Germany is closely associated with the Siegfried saga. It is bordered by the Rhine and Neckar rivers, and by the Bergstrasse, all of which have long wine-growing traditions. Visiting the many quaint, medieval towns in the Odenwald is like stepping back in time, especially during the summertime. Its beautifully preserved half-timbered architecture and the UNESCO Bergstrasse-Odenwald Geopark are just two indicators that this region is safeguarding a precious and very ancient heritage.


Michelstadt is a small, picturesque town in the Odenwald and its town hall, an assemblage of chunky oak beams, turrets and pointed gables, is just like a nostalgic German film set. The late-Gothic church on the market square matches the market fountain endowed by Count Georg II of Erbach. Together they make up the picturepostcard scene that has been sent ­ literally ­millions of times around the world. Erbach, the neighbouring town, has the only ivory museum in Europe, a big market square along the little Mümling river and a palace which displays a series of collections gathered by generations of counts.

Bergstrasse-Odenwald Geopark

The region between the Rhine, Main and Neckar rivers ­ home to a Geopark and the Messel Pit Fossil Site, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site ­ offers fascinating insights into the dynamic processes that have shaped the Earth over 50 million years. The Geopark exposes not only igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks but also evidence of at least two global tectonic events: the continental collision which formed the Upper Rhine Rift Valley and the magmatic arc of the crystalline Odenwald. Grown-ups can discover the Geopark on themed trails which point out the many geological and historical features. Geokids, accompanied by an adult, can set out to explore the shifting history of our ancient planet.

Zwingenberg Castle

Zwingenberg Castle, one of the most impressive Hohenstaufen strongholds in the Neckar valley, enjoys a romantic setting above the river. Extensive parts of this complex, built by Wilhelm von Wimpfen in the 13th century, are still wonderfully well preserved. In 1363 the lords of the castle were driven out after being branded robber barons. The present owner, who is descended from Grand Duke Karl Friedrich von Baden, hosts a variety of festivals and fairs. Every summer the castle theatre festival presents opera, jazz concerts and spine-chilling nocturnal performances. Each year there is a production of Der Freischütz (The Marksman), the opera by Carl Maria von Weber, whose plot is said to have been inspired by the nearby Wolfsschlucht glen.

Frankenstein Castle

The 750-year-old walls of Frankenstein Castle near Darmstadt are enshrouded in myths and fairytales, tales of romantic chivalry and spine-chilling ghost stories. Doctor Frankenstein was created by the English novelist Mary Shelley, who took a boat trip on the Rhine at the beginning of the 19th century. The then decaying Frankenstein Castle, which was one of her excursions, almost certainly provided the inspiration for her best-selling horror story. Today the castle ruins and restaurant are well worth visiting. The annual Halloween celebrations at Frankenstein Castle will send shivers down your spine.

Breuberg Castle

According to legend, the occupants of Breuberg Castle were once under attack from the occupants of Otzberg Castle, but their castle wall was holding firm. Suddenly a piece of shot ricocheted off the wall and landed in a pot of porridge, spraying the contents all over the walls. One guard, who was licking the spattered porridge off the walls, put his head above the parapet and appeared to stick out his tongue at the enemy. The man's courage was so admired that his image was chiselled into the wall. Even today, when the gate is closed, there he is sticking out his tongue at everyone who passes.

Cider and cakes

In the Odenwald people eat and drink according to the changing seasons. There are lamb festivals throughout the region in April, a grünkern (roasted spelt) festival in July and a potato festival in autumn. Local chefs are always keen to show off the variety of these seasonal products. Cider is a popular drink here, and for dessert you must try the Viktoria torte cake.

Romance and charm

The baroque town of Amorbach with its royal church and acclaimed organ recitals is one of the most romantic places in the Odenwald. The water from the Amorsbrunn fountain chapel is said to have healing powers for infertility and eye complaints.

Food and drink

Restaurants belonging to the Odenwald- Gasthaus association are the most authentic settings for discovering Odenwald cuisine. On the menu are traditional dishes with a modern twist, prepared using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

History and tradition

The Romans lived the good life in Odenwald ­ learn more at the Haselburg Roman Villa openair museum and excavation site near Höchst, which holds a Roman festival every two years. Today you can relax at the Odenwald thermal pools and sauna in Bad König.

Nature and scenery

The 130km Alemannenweg premium-grade trail offers walks across open hilltops, through dense forests, to idyllic villages and romantic castles ­ the perfect blend of nature and culture. Alternatively you can go cycling on the Three States Cycle Route.