German engineering and ingenuity is the stuff of legend. Leave it to us to find new and inventive ways to take what’s left over from mining, turning it into something that can make everyone happy.
If you don’t have any clue what I’m talking about, come to the Upper Palatinate town of Hirschau, and see for yourself.
Much of Hirschau’s action takes place on the Monte Kaolino, a kaolin-containing quartz sand dune of mega proportions (35 million tons), remains from its kaolin mining. You can take a funicular to the the top where people come from all over to ski or sandboard down its slope.
Hirschau — Top Areas Of Interest
Yes, I said sandboard — remember, it’s not made of snow. ;-)
There’s more to do than just careening down a huge pile of quartz sand. The Monte Kaolino is a whole complex area with an alpine slide, a rope course, a summer toboggan run, and a Geology Trail. A campsite is nearby if you want to spend the night, as well as an outdoor pool (called Freizeitpark) if you’re looking for some water fun.
It isn’t all fun and games in Hirschau, it’s got a serious side as well. Excuse me, a historical side, as many of the town’s villages are quite old. Were you aware that the town’s Goldener Hirsch was a restaurant back in the 1500s? Or, that it was actually an even older inn from the 14th century?
A place this old has got to have a castle, right? Of course it does, the Pflegschloss Hirschau was built all the way back in the 1200s, but what you see today didn’t come along until after 1474 when a fire gutted it. It’s hard to recognize as a castle, though.
You’d be smart to make sure you’ve seen the medieval frescoes (12th-15th centuries) at the Pfarrkirche Ehenfeld, and all the beautiful art at the Pfarrkirche Mariä Himmelfahrt built in 1753.
Both are gorgeous, by the way, but the real winner of the best of Hirschau’s churches is the Cemetery Church Vierzehnnothelferkirche. Looks like a typo, right? It’s not, it’s the 15th century Church of the 14 Helpers.
What else can you find in Hirschau? I’d say a good view of Franconian Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and that famous sand mound — all atop the Rödlasturm. The fact that this modern looking tower is 32 meters high at an elevation of 570 meters above sea level has something to do with its view.
I’d be sure as heck yelling for you to come down from there during one of Hirschau’s many festivals and cultural events. Really, would you want to miss out on September’s Fall Bazaar, the town Carnival in October, or the Bock Beer Festival in March?
No, I didn’t think so. And we all know what pioneers Germans are in the whole beer making department, don’t we? ;-)