Last year marked the 200th anniversary of the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, whose fantasy world flood the streets of German cities and towns as Kassel, Bremen, Hanau .. The German Fairytale Route runs for more than 600km from Hanau to Bremen via Kassel, linking towns, villages and landscapes associated with the Brothers Grimm and their fairytales.
Kassel is the “Capital of the German Fairy Tale Route“. It was here where the brothers Grimm spent the longest and most fruitful period of their lives and where the “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” were compiled, edited and translated into 160 languages. I will never forget Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and all other. As the strong reader I was in my childhood, these were the first stories I read and I can still remember my excitement every time I plunged into a new story.
The path of the Fairytale Route lies between Frankfurt and Bremen. Like all stories, the best way to begin this journey is from the beginning, that is, the hometown of the Brothers Grimm, Hanau. Then it continues north to the city of Bremen, about 700km in total. The route runs through the country of Red Riding Hood, the mountains and forests inhabited by the dwarves of Sleeping Beauty, the ways of the Pied Piper, colorful forests, beautiful rivers, picturesque backroads and small hilltop towns and villages. As an option, the route also includes a variety of events where visitors are greeted by the same tale characters who offer them barn parties, medieval dinners and princely banquets, among many other activities ranging from concerts and outdoor theaters to visits to museums and galleries of the Brothers Grimm. Best travel season is from April to October. Travel time: whatever you prefer, but from 6 to 10 days would be nice
From HANAU to KASSEL
The small town of Hanau, located 25km east from Frankfurt is the birthplace of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (1785/1786) and the starting point of the German Fairy Tale Route. Born at No. 1 Paradeplatz, now called Freiheitsplatz, the two brothers spent their earliest childhood here with their parents and siblings. Family members taught them reading writing, arithmetic and Bible studies.
Hanau is mainly an industrial city. The house where the Brothers Grimm were born does not exist anymore however the city has certain places of interest as the Philippsruhe Palace, home of the Historical Museum, the Old Town, the Market Place which is the heart of Hanau and is surrounded by department stores, pedestrian malls and outdoor cafes, and the former Town Hall which is now the German House of Goldsmiths. The town square has a bronze statue of the two brothers that has been in place since 1896 and is now considered a national monument. A large open-air market is held in the square twice every week.
Philippsruhe Palace Photo Gertrude K
German House of Goldsmiths
On your way to Alsfeld, beautiful medieval town in the country of Little Red Riding Hood, make a stop at Steinau, paradise of youth of the Brothers Grimm, who lived here from 1791 to 1798. To feel the atmosphere of this magical town walk along the main street, Bruder-Grimm-Strasse, visit the Brothers Grimm House which is now a Museum and walk to the Town Square to see the Fairytale Fountain, the Puppet Theatre and the Castle.
Brothers Grimm House
The medieval town of Alsfeld is the ideal place for a stopover. Located 120km from Hanau is known as an European Model town. The city is surrounded by upper reaches of the river Schwalm, the Vogelsberg mountains, the Knüll mountain range and the Alsfeld depression. Alsfeld is famous for its historic buildings, the wonderful old-town packed full of old timber-framed homes and stores, the centrally located marketplace and well-preserved town wall.
HOTEL KLINGELHOFFER Hersfelder Str. 47, Alsfeld. Situated a few meters from the Old Town this is a neat hotel, has a restaurant and free WiFi throughout the hotel free of charge and free parking on site. Rooms from 64 Euros for a double. The hotel restaurant is highly recommended.
HOTEL SCHLOSS WALDECK On the way from Alsfeld to Kassel, in a detour of 21 km east of Fritzlar, the Hotel Schloss Waldeck at the Waldeck castle is situated on top of a hill, 120 metres above lake Edersee, offering a breathtaking view of the lake, the national park and the Kellerwald-Edersee nature reserve.
KARTOFFELSACK Markt 16, Alsfeld. This restaurant located in the center of the medieval town offers excellent, simple, homemade food. Potatoes are, by definition, the house specialty, served in a variety of ways.
BISTRO FILOU Hersfelder Str. 64, Alsfeld. German cuisine. The Filou Bistro is a traditional pub decorated in rustic style, Affordable prices, nice crowd, live bands.
The Tourist Center, Markt 3, offers a handy map with a 60 minute walking tour of the historic Old Town, with its uninterrupted blocks of historic buildings. Visit the Asfeld Fairy Tale House, the Walpurgis Church built on the second half of the 13 Century, the Wine House, built in 1538 next to the Town Hall, the Regional Museum which is located in what were two Patrician homes of 1687 and 1688.
Leaving Alsfeld northwest is worth visiting the lovely small university town of Marburg, just 50km away.
Marburg Castle sitting on the hill above the town Photo barnyz
Leave behind Marburg and drive 50km northeast to Schwalmstadt, the country of Little Red Riding Hood. Every girl in the region used to wear red caps, even unmarried women until age of thirty, a sample that the girl’s costume was inspired by the traditional dress of the region, as shown in the Schwalm Museum. 30km north of Schwalmstadt the small town of Fritzlar is worth a visit. The town is known for its numerous watch towers and the Cathedral from the 12th-14th centuries. The Town Hall, is the oldest in Germany still in use for its original purpose. Many houses in the town center, around the market square, date from the 15th to 17th centuries and have been carefully maintained or restored.
Fritzlar Old Town Hall
Towers overlooking Fritlzar
After this short journey that began in Alsfeld, we arrived to Kassel.
The Grimm brothers lived in Kassel, between 1709 to 1830, where they were influenced by local legends. The Waldeck region (home to Margarete von Waldeck, who is said to have been the inspiration for Snow White ) and the Reinhardswald (Reinhards Forest, around Kassel) are nearby places where magic spells, sleeping princesses, witches and frightening beasts had their birth. Kassel is 92km north of Alsfeld, is a nice place to stay for one or two nights and visit the surroundings.
MERCURE HOTEL In der Kurfuersten Galerie, Spohrstrasse 4. Located in the city centre, has affordable rates and good rooms. Member of the ACCOR GROUP.
OSTERIA Jordanstraße 11 . Italian cuisine
GUTSHOF Wilhelmshöher Allee 347 a. Regional Hessian cuisine. The restaurant is at the foot of the slopes of the romantic Wilhelmshöhe park, near the castle with its famous collection of past masters’ paintings and at the heart of the Wilhelmshöhe spa area.
BROTHERS GRIMM MUSEUM The museum has a permanent exhibition on the lives and work of the rothers Grimm who spent the decisive years of their lives in Kassel.
WILHELMSHOHE PARK The large hillside park, famous for its magnificent landscape, is open to the public year-round and free of charge. Wilhelmshöhe is dominated by the Herkules-Oktagon a copper statue located at the top of a pyramid which stands on the top of a fantasy castle known as the Oktagon. From the foot of the Oktagon, cascades descend for 250m forming enormous water stairs.
WILHELMSHOHE PALACE The Wilhelmshöhe Palace Museum houses the antiquities collection, the Gallery of the Old Masters and the Graphic Arts Collection. The Gallery of the Old Masters has one of the largest collection of works by Rembrandt
A short distance from Kassel are several towns worth visiting. Approximately 45km south is the small town of Bad Sooden Allendorf, a little gem in the Werra valley. Worth taking a trip to this town for lunch in any of its cafes or restaurants and visit its architectural treasures.
Bad Sooden Allendorf Photo Wikipedia
From Bad Sooden Allendorf we go 35km to the west to reach Hofgeismar and the picturesque village of Humme, located at the foot of the Reinhardswald Forest. This is the largest forest in the Hesse region, and in the middle of the forest you will come across the Sababurg Castle, the place where Sleeping Beauty once lived. The castle is now a hotel, with 16 double rooms and a tower room.
Sababurg Castle and hotel
FROM KASSEL TO BREMEN
The distance between Kassel and Bremen is of 335km and there is enough to visit along the way, I would choose to stay and sleep on some place midway to enjoy the scenery and the people. The first place to make a stop is Polle, about 110km from Kassel. Polle is a small historic town next to the Wesser Valley, with numerous half-timbered houses (the oldest dating from 1575) and historic ruins of the Polle Castle, home of Cinderella and the Count of Everstein. Several events take place at this magical setting: every 3rd Sunday from May till September: “Cinderella play” at Polle Castle at 2.15 pm. June till August: castle festival on three stages, fairy tales, comedy, classics and modern theatre in rotation.
Very near Polle, just 16km north, is the town of Bodenwerder, homeland of the Baron von Münchhausen, who was born in the manor house, built 1603 – 1609, that today serves as Town Hall. There is a local history museum.
Bodenwerder Town Hall Photo Wikipedia
Twenty km away from Bodenwerder we find the city of Hamelin, mainly known for the tale The Pied Piper. The city has an interesting historic old town centre, also worth visiting the Hamelin Museum with displays related to the legend.
With 180km still to go to reach Bremen, Hamelin is a good place to stop for a rest.
SCHLOSSHOTEL-MUENCHHAUSEN Schwöbber 9 Aerzen bei Hameln. Circa 1570 the castle was once the residence of Hilmar von Münchhausen. Now is a fascinating hotel in the countryside, with 68 bedrooms and suites, split between the main mansion and the nearby historic barn, just 11km away from Hamelin. The hotel also features two gourmet restaurants.
WIRTSHAUS KA-WALL 32 Kastanienwall 32, Hamelin. German cuisine.
PFANNEKUCHEN Hummenstraße 12, Hamelin. Cafe, restaurant.
BREMEN End of the itinerary
Almost two hours away from Hamelin is the city of Bremen, home to the world-famous Bremen Town Musicians. You will encounter the musicians in the bronze sculpture that stands on the west side of the town hall, in the fountain at the courtyard in the Böttcherstrasse or in the old quarter of Schnoor.
Bremen Aerial View
PARK HOTEL BREMEN Im Bürgerpark, Bremen. Luxury hotel member of The Leading Hotels of the World.
Park Hotel Photo Olf:P
HOTEL UBERFLUSS Langenstraße 72, Bremen. Design Hotel located on a side street in downtown Bremen, overlooking the river Wesse.
BREMER RATSKELLER Am Markt 11 Traditional Bremen specialities and classic German fare served in a historic wine cellar.
BECK’S IN ‘N SNOOR Schnoor 34/36 A cosy restaurant in Bremen’s pretty old quarter serving an extensive range of food and drink on three floors.
THE TOWN HALL AND THE ROLAND STATUE The city’s Renaissance Town Hall is one of the finest in Europe and it has therefore been listed as a part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Bremen Town Hall Photo A.T.T.
SCHNOOR QUARTER Bremen’s oldest district, the Schnoor quarter, is a maze of lanes lined with little 15th and 16th century houses
Schnoor Quarter Photo harry_nl
BOTTCHERSTRASSE Böttcherstraße, was once the street of artisans and today is the cultural center of the city. The street laid with bars, restaurants, art galleries and shops, is a fine representation of European cultural history.
A showcase in Bottcherstrasse Photo gabrilu
- Following the Brothers Grimm fairy trail (thelocal.de)
- Giveaway: Fairytales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman (specficromantic.com)