Tourist attractions in Lindenfels im Odenwald
Welcome on the English homepage of Lindenfels im Odenwald. Here you can find the most important information for tourists in English.
Lindenfels, the climatic health spa in the beautiful Odenwald, consists of the small town Lindenfels itself and the communities Eulsbach, Glattbach, Kolmbach, Schlierbach, Seidenbuch, Winkel and Winterkasten, that were incorporated into the municipality in 1972, but still appear like separate villages. It is situated in the Geo-Naturepark “Bergstraße-Odenwald”, member in the network of UNESCO Geoparks, and belongs to the district Bergstraße that is known to tourists as “Nibelung country”.
Paradise for hikers
Lindenfels is protected by mixed forests bordering the town to the north and east. This results in a very mild sub-mountainous climate. Towards the south and west, the open landscape offers impressive views of the surrounding valleys, while the town itself is dominated by the castle. Lindenfels has long since been an insider's tip for hikers who find a wide network of marked hiking trails, complete with shelter huts and benches. There is the “Erlebniswanderweg” (experience hiking trail) certified by the Odenwaldklub, a local hiker's association, following very strict criteria. The quality hiking trail “Nibelungensteig” crosses the town as well as the tourist route “Nibelungenstraße” that leads from Worms to Würzburg.
Visitors can choose from more than 400 beds offered by hotels, guest houses, pensions and private persons, as well as in holiday houses and apartments in Lindenfels and the surrounding villages. In addition, there are two campsites and a parking space for motor homes in Lindenfels with a view on the castle, as well as two houses that offer low cost group accommodation.
Places of interest
The castle town has a lot to offer for active and culturally interested visitors. A walk through the lovely old town centre with its historic buildings, half-timbered houses, old town gates and the noteworthy Lindenfels Museum is a great start. From the castle, there is a great view over the Odenwald, the former hunting ground of the Nibelung heroes. More about the history of the castle and the town you find in the following part!
Since 2010, Lindenfels is also home of the German Dragon Museum. Dragons are visible throughout the town, most of them in the form of individually designed, 1.4 m high statues that are especially loved by children. For sport-lovers, there is a heated outdoor pool at the forest edge and various activities like tennis, miniature golf, paragliding, mountain biking or even cross-country skying.
Climatic health spa
Lindenfels is the only officially registered climatic spa in the Odenwald. Schlierbach and Winkel are recognised as “approved resort destination”. The Eleonoren-Klinik in Winterkasten is a rehab clinic specialised in diabetes and gastroenterology as well as oncology.
The town offers a variety of events, ranging from several traditional markets and a medieval fair to open-air concerts and opera in the castle to gastronomic events. Click here for the annual programme.
Lindenfels is also an ideal starting point for trips to the surrounding towns and sights, like Darmstadt, Heidelberg, Bensheim, Lorsch Abbey or the Messel pit fossil site.
How to get here
Lindenfels is situated conveniently between Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Worms, Heidelberg and Mannheim/Ludwigshafen and can be easily reached via the A5 motorway. Take the exit Bensheim and follow the B 47 (Nibelungenstraße), direction Michelstadt, or the exit Heppenheim and follow the B 460 to Lindenfels. Frankfurt airport is about one hour drive away.
From the chronicles of the town Lindenfels
Lindenfels, the well-known and much valued little castle town and registered “Heilklimatischer Kurort” (climatic health spa) in the Odenwald in southern Hesse, attracts several thousand guests every year. They love the castle town for its forest, which begins right next to the last houses of the town and has marked trails, shelter huts and countless benches, for its convenient location on the Nibelungenstraße (a scenic route that leads through the Odenwald on the trails of the Nibelung legend) and not least for the hospitality of its residents.
The town has a long tradition and history. As part of the Markt Heppenheim, Lindenfels and its surrounding area was given to Lorsch Abbey in 773 by Charlemagne, King of the Franks and later first Holy Roman Emperor. Lindenfels is first mentioned in records in 1123, in connection with a Graf Bertolfus who is now seen as the founder of Lindenfels castle. Among the lords of the castle, there were several great names: Konrad von Staufen, brother of the legendary Emperor Barbarossa, was one of them. When Margrave Hermann von Baden inherited the castle and land, it became part of the Baden territory until Count Palatine Ludwig II from the Wittelsbach dynasty bought it back in 1277. From then on, Lindenfels belonged to the Electoral Palatinate for nearly 600 years.
One of the most important moments in the history of Lindenfels was the granting of the town privileges by Emperor Ludwig IV on the occasion of the Reichstag (Imperial Diet) in Frankfurt on Tuesday before Whitsun 1336. With the privileges and licenses came increasing importance of the town. For example, the citizens of Lindenfels were exempt from compulsory labour and later also from Bede and Schatzung (two forms of direct tax). During this time, many craftsmen moved to Lindenfels. After 1336, the town became the administrative and economic centre of the whole region.
The castle with its massive fortification withstood all assaults in times of war. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sieged and occupied several times, but survived all attacks without major destruction. So what brought this fortress down? At the end of the 18th century, the castle was still inhabited, even if it had lost its military importance, mainly due to the invention of fire arms. The administrators of the Electoral Palatinate increasingly lost interest in the castle, not least because the maintenance costs were considerable.
Therefore, the walls and towers, halls and cellars dilapidated and Lindenfels castle shared the fate of many other castles. It became a garrison and in the end it was used as barracks for a few remaining soldiers.
In 1779, the great construction was sold, with official approval, for demolition. Everybody could pay a few Kreuzer and break a wagon load full of stones from the walls to take away for their own constructions. The district authority was keen to press ahead with the demolition of the castle that would have deserved a better fate. This way, Lindenfels castle, which withstood all the turbulences of history, fell victim to the spirit of the time. The local population used the names of the last district administrators to form a common saying:
„Morlock, Mack und Ferber – Burg Lindenfels Verderber“.
(Morlock, Mack and Ferber ruined Lindenfels castle)
When the territory of the Electoral Palatinate was redistributed in 1802, Lindenfels came to Landgrave Ludwig X of Hesse, later Grand Duke, and thus became part of the newly founded “Grand Duchy of Hesse and by Rhine”. This stopped the further demolition of the castle. The former wealth of the Electoral Palatinate was lost and the years of revolution had lowered the living standards considerably. Many attempts were made to stimulate economy and trade.
One noteworthy example was the planting of mulberry trees to promote the rearing of silkworms. While this failed, the introduction of hop cultivation was definitely a success. Another great measure was the building of the national road from Worms to Bensheim and further on, via Lautertal and Lindenfels, up to Michelstadt. It received its name “Nibelungenstraße” from the Nibelung legend that is set in the area. The development of hard stone masonry since 1880 was another boost for the economy.
Before the turn of the century, the convenient location and ideal climatic conditions of Lindenfels and its suitability for tourism were recognised. This started a brisk construction activity, the first hotels were built in addition to guest houses. Lindenfels soon became a popular health resort. In 1971 and 1972, as part of the restructuring of the administration in Hesse, the neighbouring villages Eulsbach, Glattbach, Kolmbach, Seidenbuch, Schlierbach, Winkel and Winterkasten were included in the town Lindenfels, forming a municipality with about 5,500 inhabitants.
This communal reform lead to a welcomed expansion of the health and recreational tourism. Today, more than 400 beds in hotels, guest houses and pensions are available for tourists, visitors and spa guests. All year long, there are various events in the Kurgarten (spa park) on the castle hill and in the castle itself.
The Haus des Gastes (visitors house) at the Kurgarten and different sport and recreational facilities add to the range of tourist attractions. The heated public pool, situated beautifully between Lindenfels and the Schlierbach valley, invites people looking for recreation. The holiday programme of every guest is enriched by a visit of the well-known Lindenfels museum or the “German Dragon Museum” as well as by a walk up to the castle with its splendid view on the area.
Guided tours of the museums, castle and town are offered for groups or school classes.
Lindenfels im Odenwald still has a lot of witnesses to its past. They are reminders of the formation of the castle and the town's nearly 600 years of belonging to the Electoral Palatinate. To illustrate this, here are some dates relating to the history of the castle and town Lindenfels.
since 773 In the possession of Lorsch Abbey
about 1080 First documented mention of the castle as “Slirburc”
1123 First documented mention of the name “Lindenvels”
1277 The castle is bought by the House of Wittelsbach. It becomes the centre of the Odenwald possessions of the County Palatine of the Rhine (later Electoral Palatinate).
before 1336 Town ordinances and privileges
1336 Right to hold markets
1404 Lindenfels is granted its own jurisdiction
1504 Order is given to improve the town and castle fortification, still discernible today
1645 First image of the town by M. Merian
1779 Beginning of the slighting of Lindenfels castle
1802 Lindenfels now belongs to Hesse
1821 The former Palatine district town becomes a county seat in Hesse and in 1874 loses the district administration
1880 Beginning of conservation works at the castle
1885 Increasing significance as a health resort
1969 Recognition of Lindenfels as “Heilklimatischer Kurort” (climatic health spa)
1971/72 Amalgamation with the communities Eulsbach, Glattbach, Kolmbach, Schlierbach, Seidenbuch, Winkel and Winterkasten to form the big community “Stadt Lindenfels”
This “walk through the historic town” was created in 1990 as part of the urban renewal measures. It is designed to help visitors, spa guests and residents to get to know the historical town centre of Lindenfels. Not all the buildings included are as noticeable as the castle or the “Bürgerturm” (citizen's tower). A lot has changed over the course of the centuries, altering the historical structures.
"Walk through the historic town Lindenfels“
Lindenfels im Odenwald still has a lot of witnesses to its past. They are reminders of the formation of the castle and the town's nearly 600 years of belonging to the Electoral Palatinate.
The “walk through the historic town” can also be booked as a guided tour. Click here for more information.
1 - Lion fountain
The tour starts at the Löwenbrunnen situated on the former market square. This was the site of the old town hall with its small bell tower and open market hall. Later, the town hall received an addition and also served as school building. In 1951 it was demolished due to its state of disrepair.
2 - House Baur de Betaz
The property Haus Baur de Betaz (Haus Baureneck) was used as parsonage for the Protestant pastor until 1874. After that it became the residence of the families Baur/Baur de Betaz. These families were committed to the social concerns of the town. They founded and maintained the first kindergarten, the nurses' station Bethesda and the rest home Salem. Major parts of these institutions, including the Haus Baureneck, were given to the town as part of a charitable foundation. To express its gratitude and acknowledgement, the town granted honorary citizenship to Wilhelm Baur, court chaplain at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin and general superintendent for the Rhine province, as well as to Gustav Baur de Betaz, lieutenant colonel and captain at Schönberg castle.
Following extensive restoration measures, Haus Baureneck now contains the town's wedding chamber on the ground floor and a “family room” on the second floor dedicated to the history of the families Baur and Baur de Betaz.
Since 2010, it also houses the dragon museum run by the German Dragon Museum Association (opened Saturday, Sunday and on bank holidays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and during the regional holidays also Tuesday and Thursday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., more information here.).
3 - Betzenkammer (prison cell)
The “Betzenkammer” in the gate tower was used as the town prison for some time. The dungeon was accessible by an ogival doorway.
4 - Zwinger and gates
The Zwinger (outer bailey or ward) with the two town gates, the inner and outer Fürth gate (named after the neighbouring town) is clearly distinguishable as the oldest part of the town fortification. The gate constructions with the narrowed pathway between them are very interesting defence structures. On the inner gate, note the machicoulis (used to drop boiling oil or water on attackers) with the Palatine-Bavarian code of arms, the corbel stones with the two “Neidköpfe” (grotesque figures to fend off evil spirits) and the two arrow slits.
5 - Birthplace of Wilhelm Baur
During the time that Lindenfels belonged to Hesse, this house served as domicile of head forester Friedrich Wilhelm Baur from 1817 to 1834. Wilhelm Baur, who later became honorary citizen of the town, was born and raised here before he moved to Gießen to study.
6 - House Bethesda
As one of the missions of the foundation Baur de Betaz, the Haus Bethesda was used for nursing until the 1990s and was the domicile of the Protestant district nurse. Today, it is a private residential building. The restoration of the building was part of the urban renewal measures.
7 - Citizen's tower
The impressive structure of the Bürgerturm (citizen's tower) was constructed in the 14th century in a right angle to the town wall, but without a connection to it, and was used similar to a “Bergfried” or keep in the event of an attack. It is 19 m high, has a diameter of 8 m and its walls are 2 m thick. The entry on the north side is 7.75 m above ground. The image printed by Merian in 1645 shows the tower with a spire, surrounded by five small turrets used to look out in all directions.
During the last 100 years, various conservation measures were taken. On the occasion of the 650th anniversary of the town 1986, a staircase was added that was financed by the symbolic sale of stairs as well as donations by citizens and friends of the town, the Kreis Bergstraße (district) and the state Hesse.
8 - Protestant Church
The Protestant church (Evangelische Kirche) that can be visited today was erected on the site of its predecessor, which was built in the centre of the medieval town. The church was completed in 1825 following plans made by Georg Moller, a master builder from Darmstadt. Exterior an interior of the church were designed very simple, in accordance with the reformed denomination that was first introduced in Lindenfels in 1564. The pipe organ was added in 1837.
9 - Administration building of the Electoral Palatine
One of the oldest remaining buildings in the baroque ensemble in the upper Burgstraße is the former “Kurpfälzisches Amtshaus”. The iron wall hooks show that the building was erected in 1723.
The building was used as office for the “Landraths-Bezirk Lindenfels - Kreisamt” (district administration) from 1821 to 1832 and from 1852 to 1874. In 1821, a total of 96 villages or towns belonged to the Kreisamt Lindenfels. In 1854, the “Kreis Lindenfels” consisted of 89 communes, represented by 47 mayor offices.
From 1875 to 1910, the building housed a “Präparandenanstalt”, where graduates of the primary school were prepared for the teacher's college. Later, the building was used as mayors office for Lindenfels until the 1950s. After that it was a residential building for two decades. In 1969, it received an official function again as it was turned into the “Kurmittelhaus” (spa treatment centre) which it remained until 1997. The building was converted during the urban renewal measures and is now part of the town hall (Rathaus). Today it houses the tourist and spa information centre.
10 - Town Hall
The Rathaus was built in the middle of the 18th century by Johann Franz Schlunkard, who was “Schultheiß” (a sort of mayor) of Lindenfels from 1745 to 1755. In 1768, the property was transferred to the Palatine court chamberlain. From this year on, the building was used as district administration, later for Hesse (1802) and was also a bursary and later the office of the head forester. In 1953, the house was bought by the town Lindenfels and used as town hall since then.
11 - Tithe barn
The former tithe barn (Frucht- oder Zehntspeicher) was used for storing the tithe (tenth part of a farm's produce paid as natural tax) for the administration Lindenfels. The barn with its three storeys was built between 1781 and 1784, using material from the castle that was vacated in the 18th century. Since 1979, the barn houses the Lindenfelser Museum with about 600 m² dedicated to the town's history, craftsmanship and agriculture as well as rural life in the region. It features a model of the castle and the town, documents relating to the towns history, traditional Odenwald costumes, a collection of minerals from the western part of the Odenwald (geologically distinct from the rest of the region) as well as fully functioning workspaces of local craftsmen.
The museum is opened from April to October on Sunday and bank holidays from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Special arrangements for groups are possible.
12 - Catholic parish house
The Catholic parish house (Katholisches Pfarrhaus), situated next to the church, also belongs to the baroque ensemble and was built between 1750 and 1752. The attractive exterior is decorated with corner lesenes and jambs made of red sandstone. The double code of arms of the Electoral Palatinate and the statue of the Virgin Mary in a niche in the gable wall further enrich the facade of the stately building.
13 - Catholic church
The Catholic church St. Peter and Paul (Katholische Kirche), is now the oldest church of the town, according to its construction date, even though it was only consecrated in 1745. Before that, the castle chapel was used as church for the Catholic parish. The interior of the church consists of a rectangular nave with a smaller, pentagonal chancel. Above the entry is a wooden gallery with the organ from 1757.
14 - Castle
Burg Lindenfels was founded around 1080 by abbot Winither of Lorsch Abbey as “Sliburc”. After the abbey Vogts (secular representatives) from the Hohenberg and Henneberg families, Konrad von Hohenstaufen, brother of the legendary Emperor Barbarossa, became lord of Lindenfels castle. When Margrave Hermann von Baden inherited the castle and land, it became part of the Baden territory until Count Palatine Ludwig II from the Wittelsbach dynasty bought it back in 1277 and lay the foundation for nearly 600 years of affiliation with the Electoral Palatinate. Lindenfels became the centre of the territorial politics in the Odenwald. After some time of natural decay, the castle was condemned for demolition in 1779. Around 1880, restoration measures were started, Today, it is the site of the traditional castle and costumes festival, and other open air events.
15 - Bastion
The three-sided bastion (Bollwerk) is shaped like a tower and was built in the 14th century. It is one of the most remarkable parts of the town fortification and connected to the town gates and the citizen's tower.
The castle „Sliburc“ was first mentioned in documents as early as 1080. At first, it was most likely a construction made of wood and earth.
Lindenfels is first mentioned in records in 1123, in connection with a Graf Bertolfus who is now seen as the founder of Lindenfels castle. Among the lords of the castle, there were several great names: Konrad von Staufen, brother of the legendary Emperor Barbarossa, was one of them. When Margrave Hermann von Baden inherited the castle and land, it became part of the Baden territory until Count Palatine Ludwig II from the Wittelsbach dynasty bought it back in 1277. From then on, Lindenfels belonged to the Electoral Palatinate for nearly 600 years.
The castle was continually expanded: in the 14th century the town wall was erected, in the 15th century the Romanic inner castle was developed into a fortress and in the 16th century, war was the reason for fortification measures.
Even though Lindenfels castle was occupied by foreign troops several times (in the 14th and 16th century as well as during the Thirty Year’s War) it was never destroyed. The administrative castle of the Electoral Palatinate deteriorated in the 18th century, the fortification was increasingly used as a quarry. The first conservation and restoration measures were started at the end of the 19th century. In the last 30 years, there have been continuous measures to protect and conserve the castle.
The castle can be visited at any time – there might be limitations when there are events at the castle. Guided tours for groups can be booked for any time. In the summer months and in the time between Christmas and New Year, guided tours are offered by the museum department of the Verkehrsverein Lindenfels, following the “Walk through the historic town”.
Your way to the castle starts on the B 47 (Nibelungenstraße). Once you are in Lindenfels, follow the signs “Stadtmitte” (town centre) until you reach the parking area “Burgstraße” below the castle. From there, it is a five to ten minute walk up the hill to the castle. Please note that the road up to the castle is closed for traffic.