These are the moments, you will love most while hiking the Castle Trail Bergstraße: after ascending a forested slope, you step through an age-old castle gate and into the ancient courtyard. The surrounding landscape peers through the windows, while the blue sky shines down on you—streaming through the opening where a roof once stood. Stepping through the courtyard, you arrive at the ringed wall—the perfect viewing point for taking in the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding landscape. And here you stay for a moment, taking in the expanse of the Rhine plain.
The Castle Trail Bergstraße is named after an important commercial road the Romans built centuries ago. For a long time, the Rhine plain was too humid for the construction of a permanent road. That's why the Romans set up the road on the border between Odenwald and the lowlands, a street which later became known as Bergstrasse. Connecting the towns of Heidelberg and Darmstadt, Bergstrasse quickly became one of the most important commercial and military veins of the plain, resulting in the surrounding towns flourishing and the construction of even more castles and palaces.
The castle trail Bergstrasse leads you in nine stages over a distance of about 140 kilometers (86 miles) to the most beautiful ruins, castles, and palaces of this region. The trail is well sign-posted and can be recognized by a blue castle on a white background as it runs through idyllic forests, alongside lush wine-growing areas and over the mountains of the western Odenwald.
The nine stages start and end in the small towns along the Bergstrasse where you can easily find accommodation for a hike of several days. Since all the stages are designed to start and end at a railway station, you can also simply choose your favorite stages and set off on a hike.
Your first leg begins in Darmstadt in the Eberstadt district. You follow the marking of the Burgensteig, the blue castle on a white background, out of the city and into the Odenwald.You follow the trail through the forest up to the highest point of today's stage. On a 370 meter high mountain you will find here the well-preserved and well-kept castle Frankenstein. After a visit to the keep and the defensive wall, from which you have a great view of the surrounding landscape, you can have a rest in the restaurant or at the castle kiosk.Near the castle are the so-called magnet stones. With your compass you can check if the stones are really magnetic. According to the legend, this was an important witch dance place and when they came together, the witches magnetized the stones. Modern theories, on the other hand, assume a tremendous lightning strike.On a wooded ridge path, it goes on over the Langenberg and down into a narrow valley. From here you climb up to Tannenberg with its impressive castle ruins. After you have explored the castle, it goes through the Stettbacher valley to the last highlight of the stage.The castle Heiligenberg has a special history, as here the widely ramified European royal families and noble families were always guests.Your stage destination is today in Jugenheim, a district of Seeheim.
On the second stage, two outstanding castles await you on the Burgensteig.The first goal is the Alsbacher castle. The medieval fortress was probably built as a defensive fortress against the castle Auerbach. You can visit the castle the whole year from Wednesday to Sunday. After visiting the castle, the castle tavern awaits you where you can have a good break.The further hiking trail leads you above Zwingenberg and below the mountain Melibokus. Here also cross the Burgensteig, which runs from north to south, and the Nibelungensteig, which in turn crosses the Odenwald from west to east.The second big highlight of your hike today is the impressive Auerbach Castle. The well-preserved towers, walls and castle buildings give you a great impression of the former splendor of the large castle complex. The castle ruins are open daily and is the backdrop for numerous events. In addition to a princely apartment you will find in the castle a castle tavern with good, regional cuisine.After you have explored the castle ruins extensively, the trail leads you down to the final destination, the train station Bensheim-Auerbach.
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On your third hiking day, the Burgensteig leads you first into the state park Fürstenlager.The princely camp is located in a park of more than 40 hectares and elegantly landscaped. In the heyday of the Landgraves of Hesse-Darmstadt, the counts built a sumptuous summer residence with various stately homes, stables, garden temples, pavilions and jewelery. On the extensive hunting trips here also the guests were royally hosted and accommodated.After you have walked through the well-kept park, continue on the Burgensteig to Kirchberghäuschen above Bensheim. Here you can take a leisurely break and enjoy the great views before heading off again.A short detour into the streets of Bensheim is followed by the ascent to Hemsberg. Above is a Bismarck tower that awaits you with a small café and a great all-round view.Afterwards, the Burgensteig winds up the mountain Lindenstein, which you circle below the summit, to get over a ridge path to Starkenburg.After this last stage highlight, you will hike down to Heppenheim and to the station of the same name.
The sixth stage does not expect you with castle ruins, but with peaceful nature and great views.After strolling through the picturesque old town of Heppenheim, the Burgensteig leads you into the Odenwald. On today's stage, you will always have great views of the small towns and the Rhine plain beyond.Your path leads on natural forest paths below the mountains Steinkopf and Taubenberg continue south to Laudenbach and Hemsbach. Above Hemsbach, today's stage destination, you can expect historical sights, the hallmark of the Burgensteig.On the Kreuzberg you will find next to the pilgrimage site, which was built peacefully in the forest, also a large boulder, which is known as "Steinerner Gaul".About the observation tower Waldnerturm, which is also called the Four-Knights Tower, it goes down to the stage destination Hemsbach.
The fifth stage is a real mountain stage.Right after your start in Hemsbach it goes up to the Bocksberg. At the top of the summit you can find some clear spots in the dense forest and take a look at the landscape below you.The Burgensteig leads you back down to Bergstraße and then ascends steeply to Hirschkopf. Above you will find a stone lookout tower. Even after the strenuous climb it is worthwhile, if you still climb the steps to the observation deck, because above you will be rewarded with a great all-round view.From Hirschkopf head down to the Six Mills Valley. In this narrow valley flows through the Weschnitz and you will find six historic mills. These include flour mills, oil mills and paper mills that have all taken advantage of the river's water power. On your way out of the Weschnitz valley to Weinheim, you can see well at the Hildebrand mill that the owners of these mills have brought considerable wealth.After a short walk through the streets of Weinheim you reach your destination, the Weinheim train station.
On the sixth stage, there are again two mighty castles, which, however, have a completely different story.The first destination is the medieval castle ruin Windeck. Despite the advanced decline, it still offers a great sight. In recent years, large parts have been restored to preserve the present state of the castle for posterity. From the castle walls you can already discover the second Weinheimer castle, the Wachenburg.When visiting the Wachenburg you will be impressed by the condition of the building. But appearance is deceptive. The castle dates back to the 20th century and was built in the style of the former castle. Burgherren are various student corps who have financed the construction exclusively with donations. Today, the castle is still used and administered by the student associations, but a visit to the castle courtyard and the castle tavern is also possible for non-members.After visiting the two castles, the Burgensteig leads you deep into the Odenwald. About natural trails and narrow forest roads, it goes under dense forest leaves over the wooded summit of the Goldkopf.The Burgensteig continues to meander along the slopes of the Odenwald and shortly before your destination, you reach the former silver mine Grube Marie. After a Siberader was discovered here in the late 18th century, a tunnel was drilled into the mountain. But there was a disappointment: barely 3 kilograms of silver and 1.3 tons of lead could be extracted and the mine shut down. Today you can visit it from May to September on the fourth Saturday.From the mine the hiking trail takes you to your stage destination, the railway station in Großsachsen.
In addition to great views, three castle ruins await you on the seventh stage at various stages of decay.From Großsachsen the path leads over vineyards up into the Odenwald. After entering the forest, you will find the two ruins on the Hirschberg and the Schanzenköpfle at a short distance. Even with the first ruin, the castle structure can only be guessed, but the second castle is barely to be discovered on the Schanzenköpfle. However, when you realize that the castles have been abandoned since the 14th century, it is amazing how well the remains of the wall have been preserved.The Burgensteig continues through the dense forest to Spatschlucht, a former open pit for Feldspar. Then it goes over the Mount of Olives to Strahlenburg, the third ruin of today's stage.Unlike the other two castles, this castle is still in great shape. You can even climb the keep to enjoy the impressive view of the vineyards and the wooded slopes of the Odenwald from above.From the ray castle it is only a short way to the station Schriesheim, today's stage destination.
You start your eighth stage in Schriesheim and wander through idyllic vineyards, while you have a great panorama of the city, the landscape and especially on the towering Strahlenburg.The Burgensteig today leads along the edge of the forest between vineyards and dense trees to the impressive ruins of the Schauenburg. Although the buildings, the walls and the towers are already far removed, the floor plan and the extent of the large castle can be seen wonderfully. In the form of trees, shrubs and grasses, the nature conquers the area back and you can make a cozy break up here. Although there is no castle tavern here, the view from the old walls to the Rhine plain is simply magnificent.The trail then climbs on cozy forest trails to the mountain Hartenbühl. He snakes past small valleys and circles the mountain below the summit. Shortly afterwards you pass the overgrown ruins of Kronenburg.Through the former prophy quarry Leferenz you reach the stage destination in Dossenheim.
The ninth stage is the grand finale of your hike on the Burgensteig.The first half of today's hike passes through vineyards and natural forest trails. Again and again, beautiful views open up as the trees clear and clear the view of the Rhine plain.After you have crossed the Mühlbachtal it goes up in a steep climb to Heiligenberg. Up here you'll find exciting historical sites.Impressive are the well maintained ruins of the Stephanskloster and Michael's Monastery. In both you can visit the foundations and individual towers. Especially at the Michael's monastery, whose foundations can be explored on an open meadow, you can imagine the former structure particularly well.In addition to the monasteries, there is also the Thingstätte, which was built by the National Socialists as a place of worship in Germanization mania. After the Second World War, the amphitheater was abandoned to decay and only in the late 20th century recognized its historical value and placed it under monument protection.The path continues to Bismarck's Column, from whose viewing platform you can take a first look at the famous castle. From there it goes over a serpentine path down to the Neckar. When you cross the Old Bridge, the Old Town panorama of Heidelberg builds up in front of you.Of course, at the end of your hike on the Burgensteig, you should not miss your visit to Heidelberg Castle. Allow yourself enough time to explore the huge and impressive castle complex extensively.After nine days of medieval castles, dense forests and small towns, the picturesque old town of Heidelberg is the perfect end to your hike. You simply block out the tourists who snap the ancient buildings as you imagine life from times gone by. The visit of the many castles has given you a new look at the Middle Ages in Germany.