That first day, after overnighting in Triefenstein, we thought to visit two towns in the Lower Franconian area of Bayern: Miltenberg on the River Main and then, if time permitted, nearby Burgstadt.
Miltenberg is a small town of just under 10,000 inhabitants. It is a beautiful place which straddles a curve in the River Main and is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Main”. It has a particularly attractive old town covering a narrow 2km stretch of land on the south side of the river between the two medieval tower gates Mainzer Tor and Wurzburger Tor. Being sandwiched between the river and the Odenwald Forest it is just 150 metres wide. You couldn‘t get lost there if you tried.
Given it’s proximity to Frankfurt and because it is a regular stopping place for many cruise boats which travel the Main, Miltenberg’s tiny old town is more often than not crowded with tourists during the summer months. We arrived at the end of summer and considered ourselves lucky as just one cruise boat was docked in the town.
We parked the Van in the local stellplatz and walked across the Main Bridge into the old town via the Brueckenturm or Zwillingstor, to use the tower’s proper name. There’s a lovely promenade along this part of the river bank and we walked that later in the day but our first priority was to head along Hauptstrasse (the high street) towards the town’s triangular Marktplatz (the market place), known as Schnatterloch, and plan our day from there over a local wine or beer (and a late breakfast).
Schnatterloch is to all intents and purposes the centre of the old town and easy to reach. Simply follow the mostly pedestrianised Hauptstrasse, which runs parallel to the river for almost the whole length of the old town, and you’ll reach it.
It’s a picture perfect cobbled medieval market place comprising an ornate 16th century renaissance fountain (the Marketbrunnen Fountain) almost completely surrounded by a series of pastel coloured half timbered buildings, a beautiful red sandstone church (Saint Jacobus) and a small town gate which leads up to Miltenberg Castle. I went up to the castle for the views but didn’t go inside as I had left Vanya outside a cafe on Schnatterloch with the dogs and wasn’t sure if she had sufficient Euros with her to cover our brunch.
There’s a second more controversial fountain in the 0ld town of three men peeing into a pond (the Schaffelbrunserbrunnen Fountain) which I had read about but didn’t bother searching out. No more need be said about that.
In case you’re interested, the red timbered building which features in all three of the above photos is known as the Schmuckkastchen or Little Jewellery Box. It’s a hotel now and very pretty too. I understand that the town has at least 150 of the half timbered buildings and a good two thirds of them are to be found on Hauptstrasse. It’s a fascinating street with some wonderful cafes and shops. I read that it takes about 30 minutes to walk the Hauptstrasse. It took Vanya and I over 50 minutes to walk it’s length; the place was so interesting. Sadly, I couldn’t help but notice more stolpersteine along the route but credit to the local authorities for supporting this initiative.
Most of the half timbered houses in Miltenberg, and especially those on the Hauptstrasse, date from the 17th and 18th centuries but; the oldest, the “Zum Riessen Hotel’, dates back to the 16th century. The building has been renovated many times since then but the basic architecture is as it was in 1590. Previous guests of the hotel include two Holy Roman Emperors (Frederick I and Charles IV), a couple of European Kings, Martin Luther, Richard Strauss, Napoleon Bonaparte, Elvis Presley and now us (although unlike the others we didn’t stay over).
I’ll end this entry with a few photographs of the Parish Church of Saint Jacobus which, as I mentioned before, is on the Schnatterloch. The first photo was taken from the Hauptstrasse in an area known as Schwarzviertel or Black Quarter (so named because the high buildings surrounding the little lanes in this part of the town admit very little daylight) and the second photo is from a lane off of the Schnatterloch which leads up to the town’s castle. The first Church of Saint Jacobus was erected on the Schnatterloch in the 13th century but the current church is a late 18th century rebuild. Just outside the church is a small plinth with a statue of a pilgrim on his way to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, 2577 kilometres away.
All in all, we were both very pleased to be able to while away a few hours in Miltenberg. There are a great many well preserved medieval towns and villages all across Europe. This must rank amongst the most striking in Germany because, unlike many, it was barely touched during World War II. It‘s a really beautiful little town to spend a few hours.
That’s it for now. There’s just enough time to stop off in Burgstadt before we head back to Triefenstein.