Up to the Castles...

The protectors of the German Wine Route: A foray into the numerous castles along the German Wine Route

They stand there, like a string of pearls. Numerous castles perch on the slopes of the Haardt, high above the charming villages and towns of the Eastern Palatinate. Almost impregnable during the Middle Ages, they now embrace visitors with open arms.

Hikers in particular like to stop off at the Wachtenburg, Battenberg, the Wolfsburg or Hambach Castles during their day trips. Apart from beautiful views on the extensive plains of the Rhine Rift and the Odenwald, you can also enjoy the culinary specialities of the castle taverns once you have followed one of the charming hiking trails to the top.

“Castles in Detail”

The knights and noble rulers of the Middle Ages had an eye for strategic locations. However, their eye for beautiful scenery must have been just as strong. That could explain why they built the large number of castles in the Palatinate in the most spectacular places.
If you visit the mainly well-preserved and extensively restored castles today, you will be rewarded with most amazing views over the landscape. The walls you then stand on bear testimony to a long and eventful past.

“Heralds of Revolution”

With regard to the German Revolution, the Hambach Castle is a location of great historic significance. It was erected on a former Roman settlement after it had probably been used as a Germanic place of worship. It was built by the Salians as a “Kästenburg” (or Chestnut Castle, in reference to the surrounding chestnut forests) and became the symbol of the German Democratic movement in 1832, when 30,000 went up the castle hill to celebrate the Hambach Festival for improved democracy and national unity. Even though the movement was not successful, it was nevertheless one of the earliest popular movements promoting liberal thinking. Furthermore, the German national colors black, red, gold, were shown in this combination for the first time at the festival.

Exciting exhibitions and tours will lead you through all these events and provide you with interesting background information.

The Sunday After-Dinner Stroll

In 1848, when the revolution actually reached Germany, the German Tricolor fluttered a few miles further north on the Wolfsburg above Neustadt. After a long period of decay, the castle was listed on a historic register 60 years ago. There is a beautiful trail leading from the center of Neustadt to the Wolfsburg, just long enough for a Sunday stroll after a good meal in a wine tavern.

Celebrations on the Palatinate Balcony

A bit further to the north, the Wachtenburg guards the wine and sparkling wine town of Wachenheim. Locals affectionately call it “Balcony of the Palatinate”. Now what are balconies perfect for? Exactly! Celebrating of course! There are lots of good occasions for castle and wine fairs in Wachenheim and many visitors are attracted by the friendly hospitality inside the awe-inspiring 11th century walls.

Narrow Valley, Wide Country

A few steps further into the Palatinate Forest or into the open landscape of the Leiningerland, and you will be presented with even more new views.

The ruins Erfenstein, Breitenstein and Spangenberg can be explored along the 3-Burgen-Rundweg along the Speyerbach in the romantic Elmstein Valley. Your arrival will be especially convenient if you decide to take the historic steam railway “Kuckucksbähnel” from the main station in Neustadt.

If you also decide to hike to Battenberg, Alteleiningen and Neuleiningen to be inspired by the vast Leiningerland, you might come to understand the motives of the knights and noblemen of the Middle Ages. After all, who would settle elsewhere?

[Translate to EN:] Fakten

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  • Hambacher Schloss, Stadtteil Neustadt-Hambach: Geführte Wanderungen, Turmbesteigungen, Abendführungen, ständige Ausstellungen und aktuelle Sonderschauen. Infos unter www.hambacher-schloss.de
  • Wachtenburg: oberhalb von Wachenheim gelegen, gepflegt und saniert von einem privaten Förderkreis. Große Feste sind das Burg- und Weinfest (2. und 3. Juniwochenende) sowie das Burgfest (4. Augustwochenende). Infos unter www.wachenheim.de
  • Wolfsburg: über Neustadt an der Weinstraße. Burgfest immer Mitte August; daran angeschlossen ist seit 2003 auch ein Mountainbike-Wochenende. Infos unter www.neustadt.pfalz.com
  • 3-Burgen-Rundweg: im Elmsteiner Tal mit den Burgruinen Erfenstein, Breitenstein und Burg Spangenberg. Infos unter www.vg-lambrecht.de
  • Battenberg, Altleiningen, Neuleiningen; südwestlich von Grünstadt, phantastische Ausblicke und (im Falle von Battenberg) geologisch interessant durch seine „Blitzröhren“. Infos unter www.leiningerland.com
  • Mühlenwanderweg Haßloch: sehr schöne leichte, aber lange Wanderung über 23,3 km, auch gut als Radtour zu empfehlen. Viele Einkehrmöglichkeiten. Infos mit Karten unter www.hassloch.de

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