We all grew up with lovely stories (popular as Disney characters) of Cinderella, Sleeping beauty, Rapunzel, Snow White and many more. Have you ever wondered where did these stories come from? All these popular stories are the collection of folklore by Grimm brothers in Germany. Are you surprised? Germany has fairytale castles and designated routes by which you can visit and unravel the origins of these fairytales. Here is a story about how we drove around finding Cinderella on fairytale Road in Germany. Did we really found Cinderella?…. Keep reading for the funfilled road trip in Germany.
- Hessisch Lichtenau
- Hann. Münden
- Marienburg castle
- Some facts and tips
We hit the road on one pleasant shining day in a Spring with dreamy thoughts about all those magical characters with whom we grew up and feeling little jealous about my son that he is going to reveal these great stories in his childhood itself. What we knew till then was that German brothers Grimm collected some stories from folks living in central Germany and then re-introduced them after some personal touch and additions. These stories are influenced by the local lifestyle, surrounding nature and the culture. I was damn sure that this journey is going to be memorable.
We started our trail on the fairytale road of Germany from the birthplace of Grimm Brothers-Steinau. This is a small relaxed town near Frankfurt. We reached there early in the morning and the town was still little sleepy. We directly headed towards old town area for the Grimm Brothers’ house which is now converted in the museum. This museum is small and not so distinct building, surrounded by many other similar houses. With the help of GPS, we reached exactly at the address. There are 2 parts of the museum, one is the Grimm Brothers’ house and in front is 3 story museum which displays Grimm brothers’ contributions, writings etc. The museum has beautiful displays of the stories and some interesting activities for kids. Aarush enjoyed this museum so much that he did not want to leave the place. There were very few visitors in the museum. Therefore, the museum was like ‘all for us’. We lingered there for a while.
We had to uncover more such places and so we moved on. We took our Brunch in the nearby restaurant. There are not many options in the immediate vicinity but outside the old town area, there are plenty of restaurants.
Our next stop was at Alsfeld. This town has characteristic half-timbered houses. Red riding hood used to live in this town. Really!!! There is even an adjacent forest, in which she met that greedy fox and rest of the story we all know. There are numerous festivals throughout the year like fairytale day, Christmas market etc. The area has so much to explore on foot, by bicycle, on horseback etc. Alsfeld is one of the popular towns on German Fairytale Road. Some surrounding towns also contribute the theme of Red Riding Hood and arrange various festivals and activities for children. Visiting these towns is also an extended fun experience.
After hanging around for a while, we continued on our mission- there are yet many legends to meet.
From Alsfeld, there are many diversions for the fairy tale road and each one leads to various fairytale places. Now that was the tricky part to decide which way to go. I had already made some research and decided to go towards Homburg. Have you heard a story of ‘Little brothers and sisters’ or ‘White Lady’? These stories are from Homburg. There is a castle on a small hill and half-timbered old-style houses in the town. The main attraction at this place is the guided tour illustrating these stories with some fun.
Our next stop was Melsungen. This is yet another laid back small town with an iconic old stone bridge. During middle ages, people in this town used to make their living by logging. They used to go in the forest across the river over the stone bridge for cutting down trees. Before that, every day, they used to sharpen their axes by ‘Axe sharpeners’ who was sitting in the corner of the stone bridge. This town reminded me of our childhood story of ‘Woodcutter and his Axe’. I find many similarities between the history of this town and my childhood story. I wonder if that story was also originated here.
There are 2 bronze statues of woodcutters, one fountain, and many typical half-timbered houses. Even though there was nothing else to explore, I liked this town. I am not sure why, but maybe because of the atmosphere and the feel of that town. We took a small walk around exploring some alleys and for our surprise, we met ‘The Goose-girl’ from another legendary story of the Grimm brothers.
Hessisch Lichtenau was our last stop of the day. This is a bit larger town on fairy tale road and is also known as ‘Lady Holle town’. We parked our car near the public park and entered in the garden to explore various statues and monuments based on the theme of Lady Holle. The story says that this Lady Holle shakes her bed out from the window of her house on a tall mountain and therefore snow falls down on the entire town. We discovered the whole bunch of statues and symbols based on the same theme. The town hall of the Hessisch Lichtenau is especially outstanding with the paintings of Lady Holle on the dark green and yellow colored walls.
We ended our day at a small, homely bed and breakfast run by a senior couple.
Good night Lady Holle!.
Our second day started early in the morning with an eager to visit new towns and to meet some more magical characters. First, we came across city ‘Kassel’. There is a museum and Grimm-World; displaying the Grimm brothers’ literature, notes, collection etc. Kassel is pretty big city with a large green garden. We were not at all in the mood to come out of our dreams and to mingle with normal life. We simply headed straight towards our next magical destination on the fairy tale road – Hann. Münden.
Popular Doctor Eisenbart is the product of Hann. Münden. The city has lots of hiking trails to explore the surrounding nature. We went across the river in the Weserbergland. This is a public park developed on a small island on the river Weser. We wandered around the park searching for some amazing funny statues. This walk was a refreshing exercise for all of us.
We hit the road again and the next destination on Germany’s Fairytale road was … stop, look around. Nature was calling us! The road we took was so much scenic and the day was shining with a light refreshing breeze. We decided not to worry about the route and just go on enjoying the landscape. On our way, we stopped occasionally for photography and to admire the nature. The scenery was simply marvelous. The rolling hills covered with fresh green grass, colorful blossoms of the Spring with soft shining Sun. OMG! The photos do not justify the actual landscape. No doubt this is the place for the birth of some of the most popular fairytales.
While driving around like crazy, we were ‘somewhere’ and finally decided to check out where we were. Then we searched for nearby places on Google Maps and found another hidden gem – Marienburg castle. We drove straight to the castle and we were not disappointed. It was stunning.
We need to book a guided tour to visit the castle and I totally recommend this paid tour. The castle is well preserved, artistically built and the well-informed guides uncover it amazingly. I would recommend Marienburg castle as a day trip from Hannover as well. It is only about 40 min by car. This also states that we were nearby Hannover and our hotel for that night was in Hamelin- one more popular town on Germany’s fairytale road.
Due to our crazy affection for the landscape, we had missed some towns on the fairy tale road and now we had some free time. So, we decided to drive through surrounding towns and explore for some fairytale surprises.
I am sorry that I did not note down the names of the places we went. We just drove randomly and stopped when we found something happening in the town. In one town, we found a Spring festival and again as it was one of the fairytale towns, the theme of the festival was around these enchanted characters. Aarush had a blast in that local festival.
After a long crazy but fun-filled drive, we reached our final destination for the day- Hamelin.
Hamelin is also one of the popular stops on fairy tale road. The story of Pied Piper is from here. Some say it is a true story, some say it is mythical… I don’t know but today, the town has lots of hints of that story and it is fun to hunt for them. We wandered around the town in search of ‘mice’ and other statues.
Hamelin is a comparatively bigger town like Hann. Muenden and in the market square, there are lots of restaurants and shops. We ended our hunt at one of the restaurants for dinner and then went straight to our hotel. Hamelin is a little bit costlier as compared to other towns on Germany’s fairytale road. We got a nice deal at one hotel which included widespread breakfast also.
Marburg is situated at the beginning of this fairy tale road near Alsfeld (What?). One of the diversions from Alsfeld, as I said above, leads to Marburg. But we purposely kept this place for last to visit because this is a popular university town. Noooo, not for that, wait. The town has a beautiful trail meandering through the narrow lanes of the old town. Along with this trail, various statues or marks of famous fairytales are studded. It makes a very interesting activity to spot them and kids enjoy it at the best. I thought to do it as a winding-up walk for our 3 days long fairytale road trip. It will summarise all our destinations.
On our way to Marburg, we stopped at one more small fairytale town – Schwalmstadt.
This town has few ancient sites and that we were mainly interested- the statues of characters from various fairytales by Grimm brothers.
First, we came across an ancient church, ‘Totenkirch’. This church was built in the 13th century and was in use as a basilica. Today, this tall massive erection made out of red bricks stands prominently on the lush green background. I liked the structure and surrounding area.
Outside this church, we saw one mysterious sculpture of some unknowing ‘things’. See the photo of it. I do not recognize what do these figures indicate and what is the story. I am only sure that those all characters are from some story by Grimm brothers. If you know anything about it, please share it below in the comments.
From this church, we walked towards the city center and there was a surprise for us. We came across some statues from popular fairytales. We all got delighted and thanked ourselves for stopping in this town. We found sculptures of ‘Fox and seven goats’, ‘Red riding hood and fox’ and ‘Gold shitting donkey’. It was another great little walk.
After some relaxation, we headed straight to the Marburg. We parked our car in multi-storied parking in the city center and started climbing. The entire Marburg town is situated on the hill slope and there are lots of steps one need to climb up or down. We were heading towards a castle/palace on the hilltop. It was a steep walk through narrow winding lanes and steps. On the way, at one corner, we found 7 dwarfs trying to make it up to the castle. If you are visiting Marburg, search for them, they are bit hidden. 🙂
As I told you above, this town has many fairytale characters spread around the town. Do you have any idea, why are they all here? And why are we heading towards the palace?
Ok, no more suspense, it’s Cinderella’s wedding in the Marburg palace. Yes, they found the Cinderella’s shoe and so the Cinderella also. All these magical characters from Brothers Grimm fairy tales are here to attend the celebration. With all those statues of legendary characters and that huge red shoe made me little dreamy. That story about Cinderella’s wedding is all made up by me for this town and I truly believe it. Will you believe?
Finally, we reached the castle. The view from here is simply breathtaking. There is a museum inside the castle. We did not go inside but I heard that it is worth visiting.
Now we started to hunt for various fairytale characters around the Marburg old town area. We need to check roadsides, corners, windows of restaurants, walls of the buildings, everywhere. In our hunt, we found Grimm brothers house, king frog. We found the hanging superman also. I was wondering if he was also the Grimm’s idea or is he here to attend Cinderella’s wedding? Haha…
The search for mythical figures around the Marburg old town was super exciting. We ended our search at the market square. There is one Swedish restaurant with subtle decoration and color scheme. I recommend this restaurant for all types of travelers including families with children. The staff was friendly and the food was tasty, authentic Swedish.
Our 3-day long drive through fairytale road in Germany was one of my memorable drives. We covered around 1500 Km. The entire drive is picturesque and exciting. I would say all the families with children must do this road trip. Kids from all the age groups will thank me for this advice.
Some facts and tips
- The fairytale road in Germany is a long drive. To visit and enjoy each and every place on this road, minimum 15-20 days are required. You can decide specific places based on your favorite stories.
- There are many hotels and restaurants along the road which are based on the theme of fairytales by Grimm brothers. Some hotels are in old castles or palaces, some restaurants serve special fairytale menu for kids. These things enhance the experience of our trip. I suggest booking them well in advance for best deals.
- There are numerous festivals going on in these fairytale towns all year round. While planning your visit, check the events in each town. I suggest the red riding hood towns (these are a group of towns) and the Hamelin for Pied Piper. But depending on the favorite fairytale, you can choose other towns.
- Each of these towns on fairytale road, arrange one or other kind of guided tour. These tours are entertaining and delightful. Try to attend at least one of them.
- There are street shows going on randomly around these towns. Keep your eyes and ears open. During our 3 days trip, we got an opportunity to watch 2 of these shows. These are funny, happening and catchy. Let me explain to you how to find these street shows. When we were wandering around in one town, suddenly, a man dressed in some mythical costume, came running from nowhere and entered in a small alley. Everyone on the street started following him and only then we realized that this was the actual street show going on. Without wasting time, we also joined them and followed them in the narrow lanes and then in a small half enclosed area beside the main road. There they in-acted one fairytale story filled with humor. That was all amusing. Kids enjoy this excitement a lot.
- The central Germany which is mainly popular for this fairy tale road is strikingly scenic. There are lots of spots for nature photography.
- I would say, these fairytale towns are budget friendly.
So, what are you waiting for? Start looking for the next holidays.