The Hohenloher Ebene, a more or less flat region in the northeast of Baden-Württemberg, is something out of a fairy tale. The baroque style castles have been beautifully maintained and the history of the area is both fascinating and detailed.
There are more than a hundred castles in the area and as with most dynasties there were power struggles, conquests and victories. Anyone who has an interest in European history will find the area immensely interesting. Because the history is complex you’d do well to have your guide book handy to reference the details when exploring the different sights.
Neuenstein Castle is the jewel of the Hohenloher Ebene. Once a moated castle it is one of the best examples of Renaissance architecture. It is also the residence of the Hohenlohe-Oehringen family but as a museum it is open to the public. If you are a history enthusiast you may enjoy visiting the Hohenlohe family archives which are stored at Neuenstein.
Aside from the beautifully terraced gardens a special feature of Neuenstein Castle is that it has a large, authentic and well preserved middle age kitchen. It is rare to be able to see an example of this and is definitely well worth visiting.
The nearby Langenberg castle has an attraction of a slightly different nature — a car museum which has some fascinating artifacts. Here you can spend some time viewing an excellent collection of vintage cars.
If you enjoy the legends of knights then you must visit the Götzenburg Castle in Jagsthausen. Here you can learn about Götz von Berlichingen and his colorful history.
It is no wonder that the royal dynasties chose the Hohenloher Ebene to build their castles. The picturesque landscape, dense forests, clear streams lend themselves to exploring and there are many touring options available. As an alternative to exploring in your vehicle you can choose one of several activities on offer in the area.
Bicycling and hiking are popular and you can enjoy either a structured guided tour or grab a map and guidebook and do some independent exploring. There is a 350 km long cycling network, but if you are not quite that energetic you can enjoy shorter day trips around the countryside.
There is much Roman influence in the architectural styles and old buildings. Of particular interest is an old Roman fort near Welzheim, which has been reconstructed into an open-air museum. In fact, almost every town has a fascinating museum and you can spend hours browsing through the history of the Hohenlohe.
If you would like to spend some time in the countryside, the forests and hills are great for exploring on foot or by bike. There are also several horse trails in the area and multiday tours can be arranged on request. A treat is to sail over the treetops in a hot air balloon in the early morning and watch as the mist lifts out of the valleys.
The Hohenloher Ebene also has a rich wine tradition and you can get to enjoy some superb wine tasting on your explorations. There is even a wine museum in Pfedelbach which showcases some traditional wine making methods. The region produces some of the best of Germany’s wines.
However you choose to explore the area you can’t help but be swept up in the romance of knights and their magnificent castles. With the rich cultural heritage, I wouldn’t be surprised if you dream of your own fairytale as you return home. :-)