Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History
[ source: Wikipedia]
Located on the scenic Bergstrasse (Castle Road) in southern Hessen, Auerbach (Auerbach vacation rentals | Auerbach travel guide) Castle is one of the most prominent fortresses situated along this corridor. Today the castle sits near the charming small city of Bensheim-Auerbach.
The Castle itself was constructed in the 13th century as a stronghold to protect the possessions of the local ruling family, the counts of Katzenelnbogen (Katzenelnbogen vacation rentals | Katzenelnbogen travel guide). The first documented mention of Auerbach Castle is from 1257. Around 1370, the castle was extensively expanded. A triangular keep, the ruins of which are yet extant, was constructed around this time. Furthermore, a 4-meter thick bastion was built to protect the castle from cannon bombardment, and was the first of its kind in Germany. At this point, Auerbach Castle was considered one of the most innovative and secure castles of its era. By the time of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), the castle was no longer in military use. Later in the 17th century, the castle was burnt by French troops in the Franco-Dutch War (1672-1679).
Today, the castle functions as a stabilized, partially restored ruin and is open to the public. An extensive restoration of the site took place in the late 1980s, and a terraced restaurant was opened at the castle in 1990. Tourists are drawn to Auerbach Castle not just to see the ruins, but also to view knights' tournaments and dinner theater productions. Admission to the site, which has been administered by the state government of Hesse since 1903, is free. Besides the ruins and the restaurant, the North and South towers underwent a major restoration in 2007 and can be explored by interested visitors.
For those with the time, the Bergstrasse is an interesting mountainous theme route that runs between Hesse and Baden-Wuerttemberg. The route follows the course of an old trading route from Roman times, and meanders through a rich fruit-growing area, known for its grapes, walnuts, and chestnuts. The Bergstrasse is especially renowned for its almond trees that grow along it and bloom beautifully in the spring. The Bergstrasse offers a number of interesting stops, including Heidelberg (Heidelberg vacation rentals | Heidelberg travel guide), Darmstadt (Darmstadt vacation rentals | Darmstadt travel guide), the Oden Forest castles (including Auerbach Castle, Alsbach Castle, and Frankenstein Castle), the completely preserved town of Heppenheim, and the Lorsch (Lorsch vacation rentals | Lorsch travel guide) Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
About this Article
This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.
Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).
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