Destination: My destination was the quaint and beautiful town of Wertheim, located in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany. This charming place which looks like it is right out of a fairy tale lies on the confluence of the rivers Tauber and Main. It has pretty half-timbered houses, cobbled streets arranged at quirky angles to each other, the ruins of a castle, built in the 12th century; a leaning tower with a dungeon which was used to imprison drunkards, petty thieves and such like; and restaurants that serve some really delicious food. It is a town that gets not just flooded but almost drowns at times, and yet is not given up on by its residents! And if all that is not exciting enough, it boasts of an outlet village where you can buy the best brands in clothing, footwear and bags at prices which would qualify as a steal!
Why did you choose this destination? – I believe that sometimes the destination calls out to, or chooses the traveler; rather than the traveler choosing the destination! My trip to Wertheim was a case of the former. I was sent to Wertheim on a work trip! Lucky me!! Thankfully my hosts at the company I visited, ensured that the trip was not just about work. Their pride in their town and their heritage showed in the efforts they made to take me and the other visitors around.
How long were you there ?– I was in Wertheim for just 3 days, including time spent working, so it felt way too short a stay! Well, to be honest, the town is so small you can walk from one end to the other in a few hours! However, to soak in the atmosphere of the place and enjoy it to the max, as well as tour the nearby places, take in a vineyard tour and a wine-tasting, have leisurely brunches, long walks, and of course to shop until you drop at the nearby Wertheim Outlet Village, I would recommend 3 days at least!
The estimated cost of the trip – About 600Euro, for a trip by train from Frankfurt and back; not considering Flight tickets and shopping.
Must-Do Attractions –
Start your tour of Wertheim at the Pointed Tower called the “Spitzer Turm”. This 13th century tower which has a height of 36.5 m leans slightly because of the shifting of the soil that must have happened during the flooding of the town after it was built. It was reinforced in the 15th century to prevent further inclination. The tower has a dungeon which was used as a prison for drunkards, and quarrelsome shrews!! Entry to the tower is limited to not more than 15 people at a time, and only when accompanied by a tour guide. The steep climb of 141 steps to the top (and of course the equally steep fee charged for entry!) are well worth it, because the window in the top of the tower gives you the most magnificent view of the entire town as well as the castle ruins. The view into the dungeon is a scary one, and for added thrill, there is a fake skeleton thrown in, illuminated by a red light! Talk about creating an atmosphere! You wouldn’t want to enter this place at night.. it is too spooky!! There is an interesting collection of pottery bits from medieval times and some old photos and architectural plans of the tower on the top floor, besides the windows with the views.
Next, walk on the cobbled streets around the village. The lovely half-timbered houses are really pretty, some date back to the 16th Century.
As you walk around, find your way into the lovely historic market square, with its fragrant bakeries with their delectable goodies, and some inviting cafes. You can also see one of the oldest and probably narrowest buildings in Franconia, constructed in 1520 right in the market square
As you continue to walk through the town try to spot the lovely fountains, the most famous of which is the Engelsbrunnen or Angel well.
Don’t miss the markings on the lintels of many doors, indicating the level to which the flood waters rose in different years. It is really amazing that each time the town has been flooded, the residents have managed to clean up and get their lives back on track! For hundreds of years! Notice, in one of the photos how the water had risen almost right up to the entire height of the door in 1995!
The lovely Marienkapelle or St. Mary’s Chapel is worth spending some time in.
On a lot of buildings, you will notice some emblems. These are ‘signatures’ or ‘calling cards’ of the builders who built them. They say that the presence of the emblem indicated that the customer had paid the builder his dues in full! Which I suppose was the builders’ way of embarrassing the customer into paying up fully and on time, because if people couldn’t spot the emblem, they would know that the owner of the house had not paid up!
From the marketplace, one can see the spire and the clock tower of the Collegiate church. The clock dates from 1544 and on the east side, it just has a single hour hand.
The St.Kilian’s chapel, constructed in 1472 in the Gothic style is famous not just for its architecture, but for something quite unique! On the Balustrade of the balcony of the building, there a sculpture of a monkey holding a mirror in one hand and scratching his ummm.. back side with the other! This was apparently very slyly chiseled into the balustrade by one of the sculptors or an apprentice as a tongue-in-cheek reminder that those who are vain, look ridiculous to others, even if they don’t realize it themselves.
Around the Rathhaus or the Townhall, which used to be once a monastery and then the residence of the Catholic princes, there are beautiful rose gardens, and the Glass Museum is also around the corner.
There are cute little curio shops, selling works of art and jewelry by local artists, scattered around town and it’s a treat to browse and pick up stuff
One can plan half a day at one of the Vineyards, with a wine tasting and shopping. I went to the Winzer Sommerach, a cooperative Vineyard owned by 90 families. For a small charge, one can book a tour of the Vineyards, a short wine appreciation class and also taste some of their wonderful wines, some right while walking through the vineyards! A lovely experience!
The Würzburg Residence and other attractions around it, are about an hour’s drive from Wertheim and can easily be integrated into the itinerary.
Don’t forget: The Wertheim village outlet offers a bus service from the Town Bus Stop right to the Outlet. The first bus is at 9:25 am and there are several thereafter. Return rides are also available. The same bus also stops at the Schlösschen im Hofgarten , a little palace built in 1777, which now serves as a museum of art.
Last but not least: Take the little toy train that goes right up to the Wertheim castle! This service is available every day from Easter to end of October, every half an hour starting at 10: 00 am until 5:30pm. The castle itself is now used for shows and outdoor concerts! It also has a restaurant, and people say that you should look out for the umbrellas of the restaurant. If you spot them open, it means that the restaurant is open! Unfortunately, I did not have the time to go up, as, after all, I was there on a work trip, and therefore had to do at least a little work! 😛
Can’t-miss photo op spots –
If you manage to the get entry into the Spitzer Turm, you can get the most beautiful photos of the side of the town along the river Tauber, from one of the windows, as well as of the other side of the town with the ruined castle from the window on the opposite side.
From the market place, one can walk towards the Tauber river and pass through the Kittstein Gate or Kittsteintor, which has the Roter Turm (Red Tower). Now if you stand looking towards the gate with your back to the river, you have the most lovely views of the castle ruins. Also right on the banks of the river is a wall on which every flood level since 1595 is marked.
Things to Know Before you go –
Do make sure you have a reservation to stay, as the Hotels are small ones with not too many rooms. A good pair of walking shoes are essential; you will mostly be walking in Wertheim. If you have a choice of dates, try to see if you can catch a concert at the Castle, that would truly be an unforgettable experience. If traveling by train, remember to check the train schedule on the Deutsche Bahn website or the app, as the frequency is not too great. If you want to do a Vineyard tour and visit the Würzburg Residence, it would be a great idea to hire a car, as public transportation to these places would be difficult. Do remember to carry bubble wrap if you intend to shop for some wine bottles at the vineyards!
Tell me your favorite part of the trip – Definitely getting admission into the Spitzer Turm and the fantastic views from the top!
Tell me your least favorite part of the trip – This is funny I know, but I have this thing for fridge magnets. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any nice ones in Wertheim, despite looking really hard! For me, if I don’t get to take back a really nice fridge magnet as a memento of my trip, it somehow feels like an incomplete one! I did get a nice one from the Gift Store of the Würzburg Residence, though, still, I would have loved to have one of the Wertheim Castle. The other thing was, of course, the fact that I was there for work and not a holiday, which meant I did not get to really enjoy my trip as a vacation, but I shall go there again soon, hopefully, this time, not alone, and not for work ? !
Make sure you try – The superb food, especially the huge spread at Brunch in the Hotel Wertheimer Stuben, where I stayed, was such a treat! Even if you are not staying at the hotel, you can have brunch at their restaurant. The owner, Frau. Gaby is an artist and each and every room and corridor in the Hotel is decorated with her own paintings. An amazing, sweet lady!
The food at the other restaurants I ate at, as well as the wares from the bakeries were fantastic too! The pretzels from the Fritz Frischmuth bakery, currently being operated by the 13th generation of the family, are definitely worth trying!
The wine from the Winzer Sommerach vineyard, especially the sweet ice-wine, or Eiswein as it is called in German, made from grapes allowed to ripen on the vine till frozen, was fantastic. Do take a bottle back, if you visit!
Hi! I’m Sonal. I live in Mumbai, India. My day job, (I'm a Mechanical Engineer and a consultant) requires me to travel a fair bit, and whenever I travel, I try and make the most of it! I love soaking in the history of the places I visit and for me, research on the history and culture as well as the architecture of the place is as exciting as the travel experience itself. I also happen to be a compulsive planner, and an obsessive budget and list maker, so I am sort of the unofficial Holiday Planner for the family
and increasingly for our friends too. I recently started my travel blog, which is my way of reminiscing and re-living my memories, the excitement and the adventure of my travels. I love to share my DIY
travel plans, my budgets, my experiences and my travel hacks; all these for my solo trips as well as the ones with the kids and the husband.