A friend of mine in the travel business sells quite a number of River Cruises through Germany. These “long boats” meander their way along the country’s rivers visiting posh places and eternally medieval cities.
However, as great as they are — sometime you got to come to little towns, places like the Hessian town of Grebenstein, to experience a true Old World Germany.
It’s possible the old castles around Grebenstein have something to do with it. However, I’m not sure we can say that Burg Haldessen is technically a castle. It might have been at one time, but since the 19th century nothing remains of what was once a medieval hill fort castle.
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You can’t say the same for Burg Grebenstein, a good bit of it is still around thanks to the handy work of some local folks. This 13th century castle was destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War, and used as a quarry for decades. Not any more, mind you, and close by is an old Jewish Cemetery.
The Thirty Years’ War wasn’t the only one waged nearby. Over by the Wilhelmsthal Palace a battle took place in 1762, known as Schlacht bei Wilhelmsthal. At least this gorgeous example of a Rococo palace managed to survive the fighting during the Seven Years War between France and Prussia.
Do you know what else gives Grebenstein, called Grebensteen in Low German, an Old World flavor? It’s all the half-timbered houses found within its Altstadt (Old Town). It also has a sort of fairytale charm. Maybe that’s why it lies on the German Fairy Tale Road as well as within the Märchenland Reichardswald.
Also within the Altstadt are both the Pfarrkirche (Parish Church) and a pretty historic tower that was once part of its defense wall.
I know you didn’t come all this way to spend anymore time indoors than necessary, so here’s your chance to get outside in either the Habichtswald Nature Park or the Reinhardswald. No need to choose, find some hiking trails in both — and make a couple of days of it.
With all due respect to my cruise-selling travel buddy — they’re certainly a nice way to see Germany, but then you might miss out on places just like this.