Schwanau — Naughty Nobles In The Upper Rhine Valley

After a week in the southwest it’s nice to find myself in Baden-Württemberg again; this time in the town of Schwanau, right at the French border along the Rhine River.

This is one of those places that had me totally interested in one of its former inhabitants, just as much as the place itself today.

Do I start with the who or the what? Coin toss…. the who wins!

Schwanau was once the home of the infamous (yes, infamous) Bärbel von Ottenheim. I say infamous because she was the mistress of the Jakob von Lichtenberg, a nobleman from the 15th century.

OK, shocking by medieval standards — but when she inherited Schloss Buchsweiler, his family went a little… ahhh, bananas, accusing her of witchcraft.

That must’ve been some woman to inherit an entire castle… what do I gotta do to get me one? ;-)

Two things to remember, the castle she inherited, Château Bouxwiller, now lies in France, not Germany (as does Château de Lichtenberg where Jakob was born). And you can see a relief of Bärbel’s likeness in the Liebieghaus in Frankfurt.

Now on to the what.

Hmm, what to do. What to do. Oh, yes, the Waldfest is a good idea, held every year in the middle of May, then there’s the Summer Festival in early July, the Winter Market at the end of November, the Bauernmarkt (Farmer Markets) in mid-September, and the Erntedankfest (Harvest Festival) and Hebstfest (Autumn Festival) in October.

In addition to all the festivals and markets you might want to stop by a couple of Schwanau’s churches. The Catholic church in the village of Ottenheim is a modern building, but the Evangelical churches in Allmannsweier (you’ll find this onion-domed church at Kirchplatz 4), Wittenweier and Nonnenweier are much older.

I think the one in Nonnenweier is really picturesque — shaded by trees alongside half-timbered houses.

As if walking around to see Schwanau’s churches isn’t enough, there are lots of foot and cycling paths that will take you all around the Upper Rhine Valley.

Ain’t Schwanau great? Where else will you find charming churches, fantastic festivals, and a sordid tale of naughty nobles?

 

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