I love old maps. They’ll show you all sorts of things from bygone days, and even how cartographers showed the world in which they lived long before there were satellites and GPS systems.
What you won’t find on one of the these old maps is the Hessian town of Lautertal. You see, prior to 1971 the town simply didn’t exist.
No, it’s not like it was *POOF* created by the flick of a Fairy Godmother’s wand, reclaimed from the sea, or even land created from a volcanic eruption. It was created by “merging” some 11 independent villages, none of which were named Lautertal.
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Despite being only 40ish, Lautertal’s villages have roots dating as far back as the Middle Ages and even Roman times. (Its village of Reichenbach was first mentioned in 1012.) In fact, the Romans used the granite blocks found around the Felsenmeer — creating the Riesensäule (Giant’s Column) sometime around 250 A.D.
Feel adventurous? Go ahead and climb the Felsenmeer, said to be easy enough for even kids to traverse. For something more difficult you can rock climb the Hohenstein and the Borstein, all of which you’ll find within the Geo-Naturpark Bergstrasse Odenwald.
Did I forget to tell you that Lautertal was located in the Odenwald? Sorry. Either way, hiking or biking through this forested countryside is lovely, even if you’ve decided not to climb any rocks. ;-)
Another thing you’ll find in the forest (besides lots of local flora and fauna) is the Kaiserturm (Emperor Tower). It was originally built at a height of 24 meters and made of wood. Today it still stands as a memorial to Kaiser Wilhelm I, but at a height of 34 meters and made of stone. It’s also where the Odenwald’s highest pub is located. Hmm, a drink with a view. Sounds great!
Lautertal also meets up with a mythic scenic route, the Nibelungen section of the Niblung-Siegfried Route in the village of Lautern (as well as linking the E1 & E8 European Trails). And what good is a fairytale without those fairytale half-timbered houses? Good thing you’ll find a good deal of them here.
Yeah, I might like old maps, but I love the stories of the places on them even more — even if Lautertal wasn’t listed.