Hiking at Bergstraße
The Bergstraße (the name means Hill or Mountain Road) reaches from Heidelberg to Darmstadt and is the line where Rhine valley and Odenwald (hills) meet. It is among the warmest and sunniest regions of Germany. Walking on a summer, spring or autumn afternoon along the hillside, you can often feel an enormous heat, even early or late in the year. This climate is used to grow wine, much wine (for comparison: it's about at the latitude of Winnipeg).
Culturally, the region (including the neighboring part of the Rhine valley) is one of the oldest regions of Germany. The city of Worms is nearby, the two other cities with a "Kaiserdom" - Mainz and Speyer - roughly frame the region in the north and south, and the former monastery of Lorsch is at the Bergstraße. The myth of the Nibelungs hovers over the region, which is why Bergstraße and its surroundings are also called "Nibelungenland", a term, which is mainly promoted by tourism marketing. In the city of Heppenheim there is a fountain which today historians suspect to be the fountain which the author of the Nibelungenlied had in mind when he was writing the scene where Siegfried dies.
Formerly at the hillside castles were aligned like pearls on a string. Some castles still exist, though most as ruins, some well enough to serve as restaurants or hotels.
|From Schriesheim to Weinheim||GPX||23 km||13/13 |
|From Bensheim to Zwingenberg||GPX||15 km||8/8|
From Schriesheim to Weinheim
The track begins in Schriesheim, quite a nice town, and quickly and steeply rises up to the Strahlenburg, a castle which is in fairly well shape and includes a cafe with a wide clear view. It's almost a pity the trip has just started, or else this would be a nice place to rest - not a particularly pricy place, but they let themselves be paid for the view. Descending again one passes an old mine, which is no longer active, but which can be visited. To do so, one needs to register and start the trip really early, else a day might be too short a time to finish the route on time. After this the route continues always along the hillside of the Bergstraße with no particular sights anymore, but almost permanently a clear view over the upper Rhine plain. Here and there one might find a flower or butterfly which is more or less special due to the special climate conditions. Shortly before arriving in Weinheim one passes the "Exotenwald", an arbotreum that includes trees from all over the world that do not grow elsewhere in Germany or even Europe. Having crossed the Exotenwald one can either walk another loop to Castle Windeck and the Wachenburg, or directly enter Weinheim, a town with a very scenic old city.
Clear view: 4/5
From Bensheim to Zwingenberg
This one is more of a short trip judged by path length. However, the Melibokus at the still makes it a bit of a challenge, although the direction given here is such that one mainly has to descent from Melibokus. Starting in Bensheim the first notable spot is the Fürstenlager (Princes' Resort), which is already located in the Odenwald. Then we have to go down again to the village of Auerbachin the plain of the Rhine, just to climb upward back into the Odenwald again - just about 200 m of height, but these are quite steep. On the top of the small hill waits Castle Auerbach, which is a ruin, but nevertheless inhibits a restaurant - and not a bad one. After the rest the track leads on up to the top of Melibokus, which is about 500 m high. While this does not appear to be a lot, the steep way down over difficult paths are not entirely easy to walk.
Clear view: 4/5