It’d be a good guess that a German’s obsession with time (how many of you have heard jokes about us Germans always being on-time or trains actually leaving when they’re supposed to) started in the clock and watch making region of Baden-Württemberg.
So, in honor of the clock, particularly German Cuckoo Clocks — welcome to the German Clock Route; or as we call it in Germany, the Deutsche Uhrenstrasse. And who can think of a more beautiful place to follow a scenic route in Germany than through the Black Forest.
Mind you, this route is not done in a day. So prepare properly and plan at least three, preferably five days to really get the most out of this historical and enlightening tour of and through our German clock making tradition.
A Starting Point Of The German Clock Route
The German Clock Route is a circular route, so any town along the way is a proper starting point.
Let me start it off in Waldkirch with its Altstadt (Old Town), the ruins of the Kastelburg, and the Elztalmuseum with exhibits on everything from musical instruments to 18th/19th century watches made by the Ignal Brothers.
In addition to making the famous Black Forest Clocks, the village of Simonswald is known for its four mills, folklore evenings, and jewelry making.
It’s a quiet place in the village of Gütenbach with its 1,200 residents, and where you’re greeted by the Village Museum’s Clock Tower. I know its off-topic, but the model railway exhibit is pretty nifty too.
It’s back to the clocks when you arrive in Furtwangen with its gigantic collection of Black Forest Clocks at the German Watch Museum (Deutsches Uhrenmuseum). Go there first because if you climb Furtwangen’s observation tower you won’t be thinking about clocks anymore, I assure you.
Do you think, perhaps, the folks who make the cuckoo clocks in Schönwald were inspired by the nature reserve area? Just a thought… ;-)
Speaking of cuckoo clocks, two of the world’s largest are found in neighboring Schonach. I think you can hear them clear right to the Blindensee (Blinds’ Lake). Ha-ha!
After a good swim, it’s time to go to Triberg. Besides its Baroque Church and famous waterfalls, it has a watch factory and the Schwarzwald Museum (some exhibits include delicately made music boxes, but also clocks). Yeah I know… the only reason you’re actually visiting Triberg is to snap photos and videos of the biggest cuckoo clock in the world (according to the Guiness Book of World Records)!
Isn’t that what you’re here to see?
More cuckoo clocks are found in Hornberg, but make sure you see the Clock Tower and City Museum. Oh, and a performance at Horberg’s Outdoor Theater is a grand idea.
Welcome to Lauterbach (Schwarzwald), the grandfather of the Deutsche Uhrenstrasse. I mean, grandfather of clocks… which you can see on the weekends at the Rathaus. Save the trip to Lauterbach’s observation tower for a weekday.
I almost forgot about the clocks in Schramberg when I learned about the ruins of three castles and Roman Fort there. Good thing I had the Astronomical Clock to remind me.
If you’ve ever wondered how those big clock towers work, here’s your chance to learn. Just call ahead to the Catholic Church in Tennenbronn for the opportunity.
Another Rathaus that’s proud of its clocks is St. Georgen. The watchmakers workshop in the Heimatmuseum Schwarzes Tor is quite interesting, as well.
Two hundred years of clock making history can be seen in Königsfeld im Schwarzwald, a mere drip in time compared to the millennia old church or even the Waldau Ruins.
In Niedereschach the Romans that built the baths didn’t have clocks, but the more modern day Rathaus has a lovely clock tower. And there’s a Heritage Museum and a chapel to see, too.
Had it not been for the sundial at the Cathedral of Rottweil or the 18t century clock tower at its Town Hall, you might feel like you’re on some German history tour. Rottweil is the oldest town on the German Clock Route, nestled nicely between the Swabian Alb and the Black Forest. You’ll find a number of museums to visit here too.
Add one more museum to your list on the Deutsche Uhrenstrasse, the Watch History Museum in Deißlingen. You just better be a morning person, ’cause it’s only open 8am-11:45am Monday to Friday.
Two more museums will greet you in the musical town of Trossingen — the Electric Railway and Harmonica Museums. However, not only is it home to the huge harmonica and accordion producing Hohner company, but also to a large mail-order watch company that gives it its place on the German Clock Route.
Who can bear to be indoors when you’re in the Schwarzwald? Alternate between the nature area of Villingen-Schwenningen and its clock collection at the Franciscan Museum and the Local History/Watch Museum.
Vöhrenbach might be where you’ll see the Linach Dam and the Bruderkirche, but they’ve also been making clocks and watches for centuries in the Uhrmacherhäusle from 1725.
Less than a handful of towns left, anyone know the time?
Kidding. I’m only joking because Eisenbach has a World Clock — so I know what it is anywhere. The town’s also got a huge watch collection, so no excuse not to know.
Lenzkirch has got its share of clocks too due to the formerly world renown clocks manufactory, Lenzkircher Uhrenfabrik. This exhibit is all about the Grandfather types. They’re so classy looking, aren’t they?
The entire clock movement actually kicked off in the next town of Titisee-Neustadt, where the first one was made in 1644. Watchmaking history is seen as an exhibit at the Local History Museum (called Heimatmuseum).
St. Peter is the end of our journey, and where you’ll see one of the prettiest Baroque clocks from the 18th century; hanging right above the staircase at the local monastery church. There’s also a number of charming farmhouses here in St. Peter, but I know that’s got to be another scenic route altogether. ;-)