Wittlich is one of those places that is all the more interesting for having learned to have a good laugh at itself. In this case, it has turned that laugh into a 4 day festival. Held each year in August, the Säubrenner Fair is one of the region’s most popular events.
The event starts with a tragedy, re-enacted by locals in costume. It seems that back in the day, Wittlich was under seige, and they needed to lock the enemy out of the gates. They’d been doing pretty well until the night the keys went missing.
That night, instead of a properly keyed lock, the town gates were held shut by a bit of root vegetable stuffed in the bolt hole. Sources differ as to whether it was a carrot or a turnip, but all agree that the pig who ate the vegetable deserved to die. The gates swung open, the enemy swarmed in, and the town was sacked.
Wittlich was a bit embarrassed. Yet this peaceful agricultural town along the Moselle river springs to life around their Saint’s Day of August 16th to roast a whalloping 100 pigs for a public feast honoring their infamous night. It’s quite well attended, and there are performances throughout the event as well as carnival rides.
Knowing about the festival solves the mystery of the sculptures of little running pigs all over the town. It’s also the reason a set of keys appears on the town flag. But believe me, there is more to the area than a simple pig roast story!
Surrounding the town is the Eifel holiday zone, full of bed and breakfasts, camp sites, and hiking trails. There are gentle and advanced trails, as well as photographic opportunities from the low hills around the town. You can even walk the old Roman roads and ox trails.
Wittlich has actually been settled since long before Roman times, although they’ve only been an official town for about 800 years. One of the old Roman villas has been preserved, along with turrets from that infamous town wall. The old town hall is an interesting stop, as its ancient wall are now the home of the George Masters Mann Museum of Modern Art.