Altenkunstadt — Simplicity, Beauty, Historicity

In the very north of Bavaria, in a region known as Upper Franconia, is the small town of Altenkunstadt. Just to the south of Burgkunstadt, its villages embody what’s truly special about Bavaria.

It isn’t about the beer, or the mega-party known as Oktoberfest. No, it’s a lot more understated and tranquil — no big city feel, and it isn’t very cosmopolitan; and it’s a good thing.

Altenkunstadt’s history is quite long. And it once had a bustling Jewish community for two hundred years. Today there’s a museum with an exhibition on the town’s former community, once almost half its population.

Many of the town’s old buildings are still around, like the Evangelical Church in the village of Strössendorf, built in the 16th century; which is much younger than the village’s castle — whose oldest part is more than seven centuries old.

Another medieval castle is the Schloss Maineck, although not too much of its 14th century beginnings are left. Today the castle has its own beer garden and cafe — not what the original owners had in mind, I’m sure.

Scattered throughout the rest of Altenkunstadt’s villages are little Wayside Chapels, many of them from the 18th century. Seems like a whole lotta building went on during the 1700s, but my favorites from that time period are the half-timbered houses. Good thing there are plenty of them to be found in Pfaffendorf, Burkheim, and Strössendorf.

Some of Altenkunstadt’s villages aren’t very big or populated. To get away from the hectic crowds of the big city, come to Tauschendorf, a hamlet of just around two dozen residents. Oh, what a lovely little place of quiet bike lanes and hiking trails. It’s also a good place to be if you’re into skiing, since there’s a ski lift nearby.

Altenkunstadt is also a great place to be in October, as that’s when the town hosts its Pumpkin Festival and Apfelmarkt (Apple Market). Although if you’re into some warmer weather, then perhaps the August Summer Festivals is more for you. Then again, the Straßenfest (Street Festival) in September is always a good idea.

Oops, maybe with all these festivals, Altenkunstadt isn’t all that tranquil. ;-)

 

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