The eighteen villages of the town of Ebern in Lower Franconia, I must admit, didn’t bring on images of hiking trails through the Alps. Nor did it invoke fond memories of beer and lederhosen.
No, it was a history buff’s dream town — centered around nearby castles, Gothic architecture, and stories of Barons, Knights, and Ladies Fair.
For the most part these stories are all in my head — except the legend of the buried treasure guarded by a restless spirit at the ruins Burg Rauheneck. Most of the castle has decayed over the centuries from when it was destroyed, but you’re still able to make out the Gothic windows and the shell of the Gothic chapel.
Burg Rotenhan is also a ruin (sad, it was built in 1190 and destroyed 133 years later in 1323). Amazing, after almost 700 years you can still see the original staircase and cistern. This castle ruin seems to be popular with occultists, who believe the site to be… not haunted, more like sacred.
One of the most impressive of Ebern’s castles is Castle Eyrichshof. It was the quintessential medieval Wasserschloss (moated castle) before undergoing renovations making it more Baroque in style. Everyone comes to see its Renaissance-styled library, its Baroque stucco ceiling, and the castle church.
Ebern is also near to Burg Bamberg (the UNESCO city of Bamberg is about 23km to the south), Burg Lichtenstein, and Burg Altenstein; but, you’ve really got to do more sightseeing in its medieval Altstadt (Old Town).
Every visit should include a stop at the Gothic St. Lawrence Church, with its medieval ossuary. Over in the cemetery is the St. Mary’s Chapel, which was originally Gothic but now has a Baroque interior.
Interestingly enough, none of these sites so far is Ebern’s landmark. That honor is reserved for the Grauturm, or Gray Tower. I wouldn’t skip seeing that, and neither would I miss the Heritage Museum, a visit to the 17th century Jewish cemetery, and just strolling along the historic Rittergasse (or Knights Lane).
Which is exactly where I came up with some more interesting tales of Barons and, of course, Knights. ;-)