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HE Odenwald Erbach

Odenwald

The Odenwald area is a densely forested and sparsely populated low mountain range between the Rhine, Main and Neckar rivers. For its largest part, it is located in the southern part of the federal state of Hessen, with smaller sections extending into neighboring Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg. Today, the area can be easily reached by a 30-minute drive from either Frankfurt or Heidelberg. However, this was not always the case and for a long time in history, the population in the Odenwald lived in scattered places and far from any larger municipalities. This is one of the reasons why there are some unique folk tales and myths deriving from here. Also, in the famous Nibelungenlied poem, the protagonist Siegfried is murdered in the Odenwald, although the exact location remains unknown.

Thanks to its forests, hills and the wide-open green spaces in between, the Odenwald is a popular destination for hiking day trips. Many visitors take a hike up the highest mountain of the area, the Katzenbuckel (literally: “Cat’s hump”), an extinct volcano with an elevation of 626 meters, located near Eberbach in Baden-Württemberg. There is an observation tower at the top. Another interesting attraction of the region, the cascading waterfalls in the Margarethenschlucht gorge, is located nearby. The second-highest mountain is the Neunkircher Höhe with an elevation of 605 meters in Hesse. The mountain also features an observation tower. Several other small mountains with elevations between 400 and 600 meters, as well as a number of small rivers and creeks dot the landscape. Furthermore, a number of castles and fortresses are open for visit as well as a stalactite cave near Eberbach. HE Odenwald

The Odenwald is also notable for its many small, quaint towns, most of which have retained their original, medieval core with historic houses and narrow streets. Among these is Auerbach, a part of the medium-sized city of Bensheim. Auerbach was first historically mentioned in the 8th century. The attractions in town are the “Bergkirche” church, constructed in 1270 as well as the adjoining streets and the Auerbach Castle, built by Roman Emperor King Charlemagne. The towers of the fortress are open for visitors. Not far away is the town of Birkenau at the Weschnitz river with a population of about 10,000. The sights in town are a beautiful baroque castle (no tours offered), the historic town hall constructed in 1552 and more than 100 sun-dials found across town. Also worth visiting is Michelstadt, a town founded in the 8th century and built around a former farm estate. In town, parts of the historic fortifications can still be seen, but most photos are being shot at the historic, picturesque town hall built in 1454. Michelstadt also has historic churches and a castle, which today hosts a museum.