On your next trip to Germany, venture off-the-beaten-path, onto the winding cobbled streets of these lovely but hidden villages. By Shrimayee Thakur
1. Achkarren am Kaiserstuhl, Baden-Württemberg
Boasting of a Mediterranean climate in Germany, this village claims to be one of the sunniest and warmest places in the country. Known for its excellent wine, produced in vineyards nurtured by mineral-rich soil, Achkarren prides itself on its Burgundy wine, and is known as the ‘Burgundy stronghold’.
The village sits on the Kaiserstuhl, a small volcanic mountain in the Rhine plain. It is close to Germany’s famous Black Forest, which is often associated with fairytales written by the Brothers Grimm. Spring comes two weeks earlier to Achkarren than anywhere else, and the summers are filled with the aroma of ripening grapes.
Guests can choose to stay in one of the three hotels and apartments with capacity ranging from two to seven, or private rooms, with two to nine beds.
The village is a perfect adventure spot, due to its location and proximity to the Black Forest. It is also an apt choice for visitors seeking solitude, as it is secluded and far removed from the glamour of city life. Don’t worry if you struggle with language, because here they say, “With a glass of wine you will soon understand our dialect.”
2. Berchtesgaden, Bavaria
Located in mountainous south Bavaria, this breathtaking town was founded in 1102 as a small settlement, and overtime evolved into the market town it is today.
Famous Bavarian port Ludwig Ganghofer once wrote about Berchtesgaden, “He whom God loves, is dropped into this Land!”
The best way to take in the magnificent view is with a hike. The 2,713 meters high Watzmann is the symbol of Berchtesgaden, and the dominant massif. Certified mountain and ski guides are also available to help navigate the mountains safely. Königssee, located in the Berchtesgaden National Park, is just one of the many lakes with crystal-clear water that reflects the mountains around it.
The region is rich in salt, also referred to as ‘white gold’ due to its value in the past. This was often a bone of contention between Bavaria and Salzburg.
History buffs can head to the Collegiate Church, the Royal Palace, the Museum Schloss Adelsheim and the pilgrimage church of Maria Gern to learn more about Berchtesgaden’s art, history and culture. Infamous leader Adolf Hitler had an alpine retreat in the area, known as Kehlsteinhaus or Eagle’s Nest. The structure is well-maintained and can be visited via a lift, also used by Hitler back in the day.
3. Tüchersfeld, Bavaria
A small village in uplands known as Franconian Switzerland in Bavaria, Germany, Tüchersfeld is best known for its architecture. Timber-framed houses are built on towering rock formations that are the remnants of a reef that formed in the tropical sea in the Mesozoic era. In some places, the houses seem to be glued to the rocks, making for interesting architecture.
Visitors can also go to the two castles in the village, the remains of Upper Tüchersfeld Castle, a medieval castle that once stood proud over the valley of the Püttlach, and Lower Tüchersfeld Castle.
To learn more about the region’s history, visit the Fränkische-Schweiz Museum (Franconian Switzerland Museum) in Tüchersfeld, that houses a large collection of regional artefacts. The collections provide snippets of the history of ‘Franconian Switzerland’, as well as an insight into geology, archaeology and the regional historical development.
4. Gimmeldingen, Rhineland-Palatinate
The origins of this village can be traced back to early Roman settlements. Built in 325 AD by a Roman named Materninius Faustinus, this village was once the site of a temple constructed to honour God Mithras. It was later destroyed, and the ruins were discovered only in 1926.
With a population of approximately 2,500 people, the village also has stunning vistas, surrounded by hills and forest. Spring is the best time to visit the place if you want to witness their annual Almond Blossom Festival, during which hundreds of almond blossom trees give the village a surreal feel. The festival is the oldest of its kind, and also serves as an opener for the wine festival in Rhineland-Palatinate.
Gimmeldingen is easily accessible by car, and visitors can stay in any of the attractive holiday rentals, and dine in the seven restaurants and nine wineries.
5. Caputh, Brandenburg
This lakeside village in Schwielowsee has a lot to offer to its visitors: an ornate palace built in 1662, the era of the Great Elector, Frederick William, a church designed by August Stüler, an influential Prussian builder in the 19th century, and a 150-year-old ferry, among other attractions. Caputh is also where theoretical physicist and developer of the Theory of Relativity, Albert Einstein had a summer house, which is now open to visitors as well.
Caputh sits on the bank of Lake Schwielowsee, one of the most beautiful lakes in Brandenburg. German poet Theodor Fontane once wrote, “The Schwielow is wide, cosy, sunny and has the comfortableness of all widely laid-out natures.”
Caputh is connected by buses to the Potsdam Michendorf Station, and the motorway exit, Potsdam Süd / Michendorf BAB10 is only five kilometres from Caputh.