Have you ever read fairy tales and wondered where Sleeping Beauty may have rested her head? What tower may have inspired Rapunzel to toss down her hair? Why Little Red Riding Hood was wearing that color? Who were the Brothers Grimm who spread these magical tales throughout the world? You can find out more about all of the fairy tales and see the history and settings that inspired them by traveling along the German Fairy Tale Route as part of a family trip where multiple generations can share their love of stories and characters such as Snow White and Cinderella.
The German Fairy Tale Route is a series of towns and attractions that make up the chance for a magical trip. There are stops along the way that inspired the stories and places where they still celebrate the tales with festival and shows. You'll see castles and settings that inspired Disney as they made their famous movies based on the fairy tales and wonder if a real prince or princess ever lived there. The route also has many places marking important points in the lives of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
The Fairy Tale Route officially runs from Hanau in the south to Bremerhaven in the north, but many popular sites are concentrated in and around the 120 miles between Hanau and the town of Kassel, home of the Brothers Grimm Museum. These places can easily be reached by car so you can hit more than one stop in a day while exploring different highlights.
Some of the more popular stops along the road are:
Frankfurt - This city in the Frankfurt-Rhein-Main Region is a great starting place with its international airport that has an adjoining regional train station and is close to two major German highways. It sits just 20 miles from Hanau, the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm and the southernmost point on the trail. While in Frankfurt, take in the unique skyline created by the city's modern skyscrapers, a boat ride or stroll along the Main River or take a sip of their famous apple wine.
Hanau - The birthplace of the Brothers features a national monument in the main marketplace, puppet museum and a Fairy tale Festival held May-July, with performances of the tales in front of Castle Phillipsruhe.
Marburg - This town, where the Brothers Grimm did their university studies and began their research of popular literature, features beautiful Landgrave’s Castle and surrounding park.
Schwalmstadt and Schrecksbach - Pick up a red cape, the local traditional dress for this area, and learn more about the girl who wore one on her way to grandma’s house, or check out examples at the Schwalm Regional Museum. Highlights also include the 1,000 year-old Schonberg Chapel.
Kassel - This is a must-stop for any Fairy Tale trip since it is home to the Brothers Grimm Museum where visitors can learn about the amazing history of the Brothers Grimm. Another feature of the town is Wilhelmshohe Park, the largest hillside park in Europe. It features a 27-foot high statue of Hercules, many impressive water displays and the romantic hillside setting of Lion’s Castle.
Trendelberg - A tall castle tower sitting amidst ruins can be seen from afar and is believed to be the inspiration for the story of Rapunzel letting down her hair.
Sababurg - The “Sleeping Beauty” Castle in Sababurg is the perfect place for a princess to have a rest, and April through October, you can even arrange a visit with Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming - in English no less.
Oberweser - Snow White and the Seven Dwarves as well as Puss in Boots are both associated with this area and can be found at various events and celebrations throughout the year.
You can be immersed in the fantasy of the Grimm stories by traveling along the German Fairy Tale Route. As you enjoy the sites and learn more about the history of the tales, you'll see why they have spread worldwide and continue to have staying power in the 21st Century.
What is your favorite Brothers Grimm fairy tale?
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Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin are hosts of The Travel Brigade Show - a weekly travel and destination podcast. Kathleen Curry is experienced in both the travel industry and broadcasting. She has worn the hats of travel writer, photographer, travel agent and hospitality evaluator. Her advice of, “No excuses, just travel!” reaches out to listeners who pick up on her enthusiasm for travel and benefit from her savvy advice. Her travel guilty pleasures are eating at a street-cart vendor so she can splurge later to order room service, finding deals to rack up sky miles so she can book her next flight and hoping her social security comes through some day because she has spent her future retirement savings trekking the globe.
Geoff Griffin is a reformed attorney turned travel junkie with over two decades of experience as a journalist and editor specializing in sports, outdoor recreation and travel. His current philosophy is that there are two stages in life - You’re either on a trip, or you’re planning your next trip. His travel guilty pleasure is trying recreation adventures that require the use of an expert guide to keep him from harming himself or hopping on a plane knowing nothing about his destination other than the airport code and wandering about a new town while relying on the locals to point him to the best places.
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