It’s the year 1904. Trains roll through town bringing well-dressed folks to this area of Baden-Württemberg. Kids are off playing with whatever it is that kids play with. Wives are working hard in their kitchens. Then all of a sudden a huge fire breaks out, burning down their beloved Ilsfeld.
It does tell a horrid tale about this picturesque town where more than 125 buildings and almost a hundred farms were leveled, not to mention almost a thousand people were left without homes.
Sure, it would be a sad tale if Ilsfeld hadn’t recovered, rebuilding itself; and it’s a good thing that not all of Ilsfeld’s timber-framed houses were burnt to a crisp. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have any to look at while you’re here (the old Pharmacy, Gasthaus Ochsen are still here).
And it’s also the reason you’ll find an Art Nouveau Town Hall, instead of a Renaissance or medieval one.
Some of the original St. Bartholomew Church still remains, mainly its late-Gothic tower and choir. The church is also the site of the Ilsfelder Holzmarkt (Islfeld Timber Market), a 500 year old event that takes place on the last weekend of August.
At the Desert House, there is a remnant of a 15th century chapel — which wasn’t destroyed in the 1904 fire. I would also recommend seeing the ruins of Helfenberg; this too wasn’t destroyed in the great fire, it’s been like this for eons.
I did tell you Ilsfeld rebuilt itself, didn’t I? No way better to see it than enjoy a day at the outdoor swimming pool or horseback riding around the countryside. Which I know you’ll really enjoy since its on the Württemberg Wine Route, so giddy-up & get drinking! ;-)
You’ll see more vineyards if you’re cycling around on the Schozach Alb-Neckar Cycle Route (or just around the Swabian-Franconian Forest). Yeah, if you’re gonna be drinking, it’s best to walk or go by public transport.
I’m really sorry that so much was destroyed here at the turn of the last century, but I really like Ilsfeld as it is today; and I think you will, too.