The family of Nelson, a frequent MyGermanCity.com visitor, came from the village of Schmalenberg in the Südwestpfalz district of the Rhineland-Palatinate. But, one thing is different today than when Nelson’s family left Germany, awash with the effects of being a war-torn country.
Nelson, your grandfather might be happy to know that his boyhood home won the Unser Dorf soll Schöner werden competition, or the Our Village Should Become More Beautiful competition, back in 1981.
This might not sound like much, but the contest is open to all villages in Germany with less than 3,000 inhabitants—and there are thousands of them throughout the country, all of which would be proud to receive this award.
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A high honor, indeed—wouldn’t you say?
Sightseeing around Schmalenberg is limited to the half-timbered bake house from the 19th century (located at Hauptstrasse 22), and the 19th century schoolhouse right down the block at Hauptstrasse 47.
Over at Kirchgasse 3 is Schmalenberg’s Evangelical Church (built in the 12th century) and its War Memorial that doesn’t look like a typical monument. It’s a unique sculpture of a saddened woman—and a quiet place of reflection on the reasons why families like Nelson’s left the only homes they knew.
Also worth photographing is the old Wasserturm (Water Tower) on Kirchgasse 13.
Nowadays, Schmalenberg is part of the Collective Municipality of Waldfischbach-Burglaben (which include the other villages of Geiselsberg, Heltersberg, Hermersberg, Höheinöd, Horbach, Steinalben, and Waldfischbach-Burglaben proper). In this area, you’ll find a Local History Museum, the medieval church of St. Peter, and a bunch of recreational activities to keep you busy for quite a long while.
What kind of recreational fun? Glad you asked, because if you like hiking and cycling, golfing and mountainbiking, Nordic Walking and Outlet Store shopping (yes, that counts as a sport in some circles) then these villages will be a big hit. You can even take guided horse rides through the Palatinate Forest Nature Park, or just as easy explore it on your own.
Once you’re back in Schmalenberg and are hungry after a festival, there’s the fun Quackfest parade going on every year at Pentecost.
All in all, this might not be the Schmalenberg that Nelson’s family left behind, but the spirit of those who once lived, walked, played, prayed, and worked here won’t ever be forgotten.