Books & Music
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
News & Politics
Religion & Spirituality
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies
Germany's Fairy Tale Road
There is a Fairy Tale Road in Germany. Following in the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm it travels through a magical world of fairy tales, sagas and legends, down the route the brothers took to collect the stories, and inspiration, for what was to become their world famous collection of German fairy tales.
By bicycle, car, or of course seven league boots, the Fairy Tale Road travels 375 miles through five different German states, 70 medieval towns and villages, passing stunning landscapes with ancient castles, fortresses, half timbered houses and grottos.
It begins in Hanau where the Grimm brothers were born, which, although their birthplace no longer exists, still retains much that the brothers would recognize, not however the bronze statue which has been standing in their honor on the historic market square since 1895.
The fairytale road comes to an end in Bremen, famous for the Town Musicians of Bremen, the tale of four elderly and mistreated animals, a donkey, dog, cat, and rooster, who after escaping their masters decide to become musicians in Bremen, a city which was known at the time for its free way of life and thinking.
In the fairy tale, which has fascinated generations of children, the animals never reached Bremen of course, having found a home in a cottage on their journey. Nevertheless surrounded by the Altstadt, Old Town, medieval buildings, and ancient crooked lanes still with their intact 17th century fishermanís cottages, there, standing in a beautiful and atmospheric market square, is a bronze donkey.
With his shining front hooves, touching them is said to make wishes come true so they have been 'touched' for generations, he isn't alone because upon his back he carries a bronze dog, the cat with his arched back balances on the dog and to complete the pyramid the rooster surveys everything from the top.
The miles in between Hanau and Bremen are filled not only with picturesque landscapes but with culture, history and fairytales, while despite the passage of time so much of the Fairy tale Road is un-spoilt, and unchanged, it is not difficult to relive those childhood dreams of long ago.
Steinau was the family home from 1791, a large turreted stone house which, because their father was a district magistrate, doubled as the local courthouse, and it still survives as a Brothers Grimm museum filled with manuscripts and memorabilia.
Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty are some of the Grimms most famous fairy tales, but it is possible to visit all the settings for those fables, and many others, along Germanyís Fairy Tale Road.
Lohr am Rhein is thought to be where Snow White, Schneewittchen, and the seven dwarves lived after she had escaped the evil queen, and the story is believed to be based upon Maria Sophia von Erthal. Her family castle still stands and she had stepmother who behaved much like the one in the fairy tale.
While the area from Alsfeld to Fritzlar, alongside the Schwalm River, is the setting for Little Red Riding Hood. Townspeople still wear traditional costumes, with red caps for unmarried girls, which, although they are not exactly like the one portrayed by Disney were nevertheless, together with the local dark deep forests, the original inspiration for the Brothers Grimm.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm described their time in Kassel as being the most fruitful period of their lives, and it was here that they not only compiled Grimmís Fairy Tales but also began their study of German language and literature. Located in the stunning Palais Bellevue, built in 1791 as an observatory for a local Duke, is the Brothers Grimm Museum which covers their whole life story and achievements.
'Dornroeschenschloss Sababurg' is Sleeping Beauty's 675 year old castle in the forest of Reinhardswald, between Kassel and Goettingen, and it is where she slept for 100 years before being saved, 'by a kiss from a prince'. It is also one castle where it is really possible to relive the story, as it no longer belongs to fairytale princes but is an hotel.
The brothers were professers at the University of Goettingen, and in the central square of the old town is a statue Ganseliesel, The Little Goose Girl, another of their tales. She used to be the most kissed girl in the world as successful students would kiss her for luck, however now it is more usual to decorate the statue with flowers so it is often covered with multicolored blooms.
Not to forget Rapunzel and Trendelburg Turm, the medieval castle with the tower a prince climbed, using the long blond hair which she had let down, to save her from the imprisonment she had been forced into by the enchantress. It is still there and exactly as it was when the Grimms first saw it.
Even before all the television programs now centered around fairy tales, a tour down the Deutsche Maerchenstrasse was one of the highlights of tourism in Germany, a trip into a fairyland, and childhood memories, for young and old, and somewhere the festivities donít stop.
Meandering through central Germany to the sources of Grimmís fairy tales, with their picturesque and symbolic sights, the traveler could almost believe that hundreds of years ago witches, heartless stepmothers, musically inclined farm animals, wolves who could talk, gallant handsome princes and princesses with long blond hair were alive and well in the land beyond the seven hills.
But perhaps they were.
Illustrations: 'The Town Musicians of Bremen', in front of the Bremer Rathaus, photographer Gerhard Marcks, de.Wikipedia - 'Map of Fairytale Route', Expandable, Photoshop Postcards - Trendelburg, 'Rapunzel's Castle', Hessen, Photographer Presse03, de.Wikipedia
For topics in the news And you can follow German Culture on Facebook
Content copyright © 2013 by Francine McKenna. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Francine McKenna. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Francine McKenna for details.
Website copyright © 2013 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.