Germany has more scenic routes than you can shake a stick at.

You can choose to follow the Fairy Tale Route, the Asparagus Route, the Porcelain Route, the Silver Mines Route, the Romantic Road, the German Wine Route, the Castle Road, the Alpine Road…you get the idea.

One of the most convenient routes for us to explore on day trips is the Deutsche Fachwerk Straße or German Half-Timbered House Road.

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The road is over 2,800 kilometers (1,740 miles) long. It’s split up into 7 different sections and has about 100 towns to see.

We’ve been to only 19 or so of the towns, so we have more than enough to keep us busy whenever we want to travel within Germany.

Here are some of the places along the route that we’ve visited recently:

Butzbach:

Butzbach

In addition to being on the German Half-Timbered House Road, Butzbach lies on the German Limes Route as well – with the limes in question being Roman frontier fortifications and not fruits.

However, if fruit products are your thing, Butzbach is also on the Hessian Cider and Orchard Trail.

I told you there are a lot of scenic routes in Germany.

Butzbach’s market square, shown above, impressed us immediately with its colorful, half-timbered buildings.

One of the cool things about the town is that as you’re walking around, you see old black-and-white photos of what some of the buildings used to look like. The photos have helpful explanations in both English and German.

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For instance, to the left of that house you can make out a sign with an old photo on it and an explanation that the house was built around 1422 and used to be a hosiery.

The old photo is from the early 1930s and shows a group of German police marching down the street in front of the house.

For a hint about what this next building is, take a look at the front of the building, just under the roof.

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See the drawing of the owl? The house was an inn called – you guessed it – The Owl, from the early 16th century.

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That place is the Landgrafenschloss or Landgraves’ Castle. After World War II and until 1990, the U.S. Army used the building. I imagine that was not a bad to place to have been stationed.

It’s now used by the Butzbach city council.

One of my favorite parts of the town was the Schwibbögenhäuser.

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The Schwibbögenhäuser is that very narrow row of houses that you see on the left. The row was actually once part of the city wall. It was originally used as workshops and sheds and later used as apartments. Can you see yourself living in a place that narrow?

Butzbach was a great town for walking around on a sunny Sunday in October. If you’re interested in learning more, you can click on this website and then on the individual green dots for more information about the historic sites.

Fun Fact: If you are a baseball fan you may have heard of Ron Gardenhire, former player for the New York Mets and former manager for the Minnesota Twins. He was part of a military family and was born in Butzbach.

Hanau-Steinheim:

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Like Butzbach, this town is also on the Hessische Apfelwein Straße (Cider Road).

Burial tombs from the Bronze Age have been found in Steinheim, so the town has a long history.

We parked at a free lot just outside of town and walked through the arch in the old city wall that you see above to start our tour.

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Almost immediately after arriving in the center of town, we started seeing half-timbered houses like that one.

Built in 1731, it was originally a tavern and inn called The Lamb. It’s now private property.

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That building was one of the more impressive half-timbered structures we saw in Steinheim.

It dates from the 16th century when it was the von Hutten family residence. It later serviced as a tavern and then a cigar factory, at which point significant changes were made to the building.

Like any German town worth its salt, Steinheim has a Schloß (palace or castle).

It is unsurprisingly called Schloß Steinheim.

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What you see on the right is all that’s left of the original castle, and the white tower is the castle keep. The keep is sometimes open for tours but was closed during our visit.

And if you’re wondering what a keep is, it’s a fortified tower to which the castle residents could flee if enemies captured the castle.

Today there is a museum in the palace. A little weekend Christmas market was just being set up when we were there.

Fun Fact: Believe it or not, George Bush is famously associated with and is an honorary citizen of Steinheim.

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No, not the former U.S. President. The German sculptor, whose name in German is actually spelled Georg Busch. He sculpted the Friedensdenkmal or Peace Memorial that you see there, which was unveiled in the town in 1911.

Dreieich:

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After leaving Steinheim, we visited Dreieich the same day because the two towns are only about a 20-minute drive from each other.

Similarly to Steinheim, we parked just outside of town and walked through the former city gate that you see there. The surrounding wall dates from Roman times.

Of course this town has a castle as well.

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It’s called Hayn Castle, and as soon as you pass through the city gate you can see its ruins.

The castle dates from the 11th century and about 200 years later the town started to grow around it. Dreieich celebrated its 750th anniversary in the year 2006.

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The town has very cute little shopping streets like that one, lined with half-timbered houses.

I liked the colors of this house as well as the little turret.

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It was built in 1616.

Walking through the pedestrian area, you come to another former city gate.

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That gate itself is half-timbered, which is somewhat unusual.

Fun Fact: The biggest BMW dealership after Munich, where the company is headquartered, is in Dreieich.

Trebur:

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Trebur is a very quaint little town that we unfortunately visited on a day where it poured rain as soon as we started our walk.

It is another well-established town that was first mentioned in 829, making it almost 1,200 years old.

One of the interesting things about visiting different sections of the Half-Timbered Road is that each region and sometimes each town within a region has different building styles.

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That house, called the Red House, was built in 1680 and exemplifies the style typical of Trebur. Compare the timbers to some of the previous photos of the other towns to see the difference.

I also like seeing the different colors of the timber and shutters as well as the decorations and symbols on the houses

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After getting thoroughly drenched, we cut our trip little short. Because Trebur is so close to us, though, we went back the next day to check out a couple of memorials that we wanted to see. 

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The first was that one, called the Memorial for the Grain of Sand. It commemorates the murders of 5 men and 1 woman from nearby towns. They were murdered by Nazis on March 21st, 1945, less than 3 months before the end of the war. The victims were made to dig their own graves before being shot by an 18 year-old lieutenant.

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The second was that one, commemorating an emergency zeppelin landing on August 4, 1908. The zeppelin was piloted by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin himself during its first flight.

The two memorials are actually just outside of town but easy enough to reach. 

Fun Fact: Henry IV was elected King of the Germans in Trebur in 1053, and 13 years later he got married there. He was also Holy Roman Emperor for just over twenty years.

Grünberg:

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One of the first buildings you notice when you arrive at the center of Grünberg is the Town Hall building on the market square, built in 1720.

The town has several other notable points of interest.

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The other buildings on the market square have vibrant hues and in slightly nicer weather I definitely would have sat outside one of the cafés for a coffee.

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What you see there is the highest half-timbered building in Upper Hesse (Hesse is one of Germany’s 16 states). It was built in the early 1500s.

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That shopping street, with the view of the church tower at the end, was very picturesque.

We visited in mid-January and the town still had some Christmas decorations up.

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That stone fountain, with the metal sculpture of the person leaning over the wall, dates from the middle ages.

It had been covered up and was discovered just over 25 years ago when the market square was being renovated.

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The Diebsturm or Thieves’ Tower is the only remaining part of the city walls. As is befitting of its name, it once served as a prison.

During World War II, ammunition was stored there and the tower was partially destroyed by the Allies.

There is an exhibition inside now, but the tower was closed when we were there.

Fun Fact: Grünberg is twinned with the city of Condom, France.

Babenhausen:

Sometimes I’m amused by what has become of the half-timbered houses in these towns.

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That one in Babenhausen, which is hundreds of years old, is now the Tequila Sportsbar.

If someone said to you “Hey, let’s meet up at the Tequila Sportsbar!” is that what you would picture?

The town of Babenhausen received its charter in the year 1295, making it 720 years old this year.

One of the prettier houses we saw was this one, which used to be an apothecary (pharmacy).

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Between the upper and lower floors and also between some of the windows, you can see carvings of medicinal plants.  

There is also a carving of a set of scales like those used by pharmacists, as well as one of a Rod of Asclepius. The latter is a serpent wrapped around a rod and is a medical symbol.

While the building is from the 18th century, the carvings were not done until 1935.

Part of the old city wall from the 15th century is preserved in this town.

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Next to the wall you can see the Hexenturm or Witches Tower. It once served as a prison and some people accused of witchcraft were allegedly tortured there.

The house next to the Hexenturm is the oldest half-timbered house in town.

Despite a sign on the house saying that it was built in 1442, it was actually built in 1484. But hey, what’s 42 years between friends?

Like Butzbach that you read about earlier, the U.S. military used to have a post in Babenhausen. It was closed and the property was returned to the Germans in 2007.

The town also has a grist mill from the 14th century.

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The mill has been restored and to this day produces electricity. The water from the mill comes through the opening at the bottom right of the yellow building in that photo.

Fun Fact: Babenhausen has a geocaching tour you can follow via GPS coordinates. If you don’t have a GPS, you can borrow one from the Tourist Information office; you just have to leave a 10 Euro deposit that you get back when you return the GPS.

Idstein:

We had been to Idstein once before, but it was during Christmas Market season and the town was so crowded that we really didn’t have an opportunity to see much of it.

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On a Sunday in February when all the shops were closed it was quite a different scene.

The Konig-Adolf-Platz is surrounded by magnificent half-timbered houses, especially the tallest one in the photo. It’s called the Killingerhaus and was built in 1615. The ornamentation and detail on the house is exquisite.

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There’s a close-up so you can see what I mean.

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It will come as no surprise that the blue house in that photo is called the Crooked House. You can tell how much it both tilts to the left and leans forward, the result of construction deficiencies when it was built in 1727.

Connected to the crooked house is the old town hall.

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From the Konig-Adolf-Platz, if you walk up some steps and through an archway, that’s the view you get of it. It’s actually a whole complex that consists of the town hall, the gatehouse and a castle.

There is a little maze garden there as well as this tower.

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It’s called the Witches Tower just like the one in Babenhausen that you read about. Witches Towers are fairly common in German towns.

The one in Idstein is the town’s oldest remaining landmark. (As an aside, I love when I accidentally capture a bird in a photo and I don’t realize it until I download the pictures.)

Idstein is fairly well-known for the witch trials held there in the 1600s. The town takes advantage of its witch association and in the spring it even holds a medieval Witches’ Market near the tower. And no, they don’t sell witches there. The market is a family event with music, food, crafts and live music.

Fun Fact: Near the old town hall/castle there is a metal plate with a QR Code built right into the pavement.

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Use your smart phone to scan it and information on the town’s sights pops up in both German and English.

You can easily spend hours in each of these towns checking out the half-timbered buildings as well as castles, palaces, churches, museums, parks, shops and restaurants.

If you’re in Germany and are interested in visiting some of the towns along the Half-Timbered House Route, take a look at this website for more information.  

Have you visited any of the towns along the route?

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About the author: Trish

 

Website: http://travelsandtipples.com