In the south of the state of Hesse on the border with Bavaria is the mountainous nature park Hessischer Spessart. Surrounded by a network of fields and forest, the intriguing town of Schlüchtern sits in the largest and one of the most populated districts in this state — the Main-Kinzig-Kreis — although you wouldn’t believe once you are here!
You could have the whole day to yourself outside of town — just you and the fresh air for hours at a time. The town hasn’t been a health resort since 1966 for nothing!
Staying in town, though, offers another type of adventure. There are a whole host of sights from throughout the past several hundred years. These include the Benedictine monastery with crypts dating from the 8th century on the southern edge of town, and the dozens of half-timbered houses and tiny passageways between the streets.
There are castles and large residential estates all across Schlüchtern and its districts.
These include the ruins of the Steckelberg castle up on a hill, protecting the routes into and out of the town. The Via Regia (the Royal Road) passes through here, and needed to be defended and maintained at all times. Royalty and soldiers traveling anywhere between Frankfurt and Görlitz could pass through here at any time.
Other castles in the area include the stone-built Burg Brandenstein with its hidden gardens as well as the privately owned Castle Ramholz which is a splendid English-looking stately home. Set in its own 80ha or nearly 200 acres of parkland (which is open to the public) and filled with spring-fed ponds and lakes, a delicate parterre, a rose garden and an almost endless wooded landscape.
Schlüchtern is also linked to the German Fairy Tale Road — the Märchenstraße. The Brothers Grimm were born in Hanau just a short drive south from here and they grew up in Steinau an der Straße just down the road.
It is no surprise that the buildings here inspired them with its turreted castle, wonky half-timbered houses and its surrounding dark forests!