"Synonym for Handball and the Staufer Dynasty" Göppingen by Kakapo2

Göppingen Travel Guide: 27 reviews and 177 photos

Hohenstaufen Mountain dominates the Picture

Göppingen is a regional centre with about 60,000 inhabitants – you recognize the cars from there by the letters GP on the number plates – and located between Stuttgart (40 km) and Ulm (60 km), on the main railway line Stuttgart – Munich. Thanks to the Staufer dynasty which had ten Swabian dukes, seven German kings (Konrad III being the first in 1138) and emperors from 1079 to 1268, Göppingen got its city status already in the 12th century. This part of its history is present everywhere until today. And if only you hear that the first division handball team named Frisch Auf plays in a stadium named Hohenstaufenhalle.

Göppingen lies at the foot of a hill named Hohenstaufen where the emperors had their main castle from about 1079. Hohenstaufen is a butte – meaning: a solitary rounded mountain of white Jurassic rock, now covered in beech forest, towering over a plain. It dominates the lower Fils valley, and although there are several other such buttes, it is unmatched in its dominant beauty. Travelling to Göppingen from the east (Geislingen), you can already admire the 684 m high Hohenstaufen from afar. What makes it even nicer is a village named – surprise, surprise! – Hohenstaufen, wrapped like a ribbon around the lower slopes of the hill like a ribbon around a hat.

Only some sparse remains are left of the castle ruins, so this would not make it worth a visit. But the views from the summit are fantastic, on clear day you can see further west than Stuttgart, and you see the steep drops of the surrounding plains of the Schwäbische Alb. Every year they start a bicycle race called “Alb Extrem” which leads up and down all those hills to the east of Hohenstaufen.

The whole hilly region is dotted with castles and ruins from the Staufer era: Staufeneck, Ramsberg, Scharfeneck, Scharfenschlössle, Hohenrechberg and Wäscherschlössle (which probably is the cradle of the dynasty). The Straße der Staufer (Staufer Route) also leads through the towns of Schwäbisch Gmünd and Lorch. At Lorch they had a monastery. Further reminders are the former monastery in Adelberg, the fantastic Roman basilica in Göppingen-Faurndau and the basilica in Bad Boll. (And you will still find Staufer castles in Alsace, like Hohkönigsburg, and in Italy, like Castel del Monte.) The last male direct-line Staufer was Konradin who was beheaded in Naples in 1268 by Charles of Anjou. The most famous Staufer was King Friedrich I Barbarossa (1122 – 1190).

Göppingen had hard times in its history. Twice it fell to ruins in devastating fires, in 1425 and 1782. But miraculously the castle, the main church (Stadtkirche), the Oberhofenkirche and some spectacular residential houses survived the last fire. The two churches are located not far from each other, at the eastern end of the city centre. Whereas Stadtkirche (from 1618/19) is a rather simplistic building, gothic Oberhofenkirche on the nearby old cemetery, built in the 15th century, has some fabulous pieces of of wood art and ceiling frescos. Over the southern entrance you find an authentic painting of Hohenstaufen castle – and see, we are back with the Staufers and Hohenstaufen!

Cradle of the Kempa-Trick + Märklin Model Railways

Despite this impressive history, nationally people really refer to Göppingen for its famous handball team which dominated German handball in the 1950s and 1960s, and still went strong in the 1970s. They won the national title eleven times (the last time in 1972) and were twice European Cup winner. Germany’s most famous handball player comes from Göppingen, and all – really all – teams of the entire world perform a trick that he has invented more than 50 years ago. In Germany it is called “Kempa-Trick”, or simply: “Kempa”, named after this inspirational player. His full name is Bernhard Kempa. And this technical masterpiece works as follows: A player throws the ball into the circle zone, while a teammate flies into the circle from one of the sides, catches the ball and throws it (in)to the goal when still flying through the air.

Göppingen is the centre of a handball-mad region. Football has never succeeded to keep up with handball. Once Göppingen had a second division football team but this was ages ago. As Stuttgart is not far away most people support the VfB Stuttgart football team, the actual German title holder – better than Bayern Munich! :-)

You might come from a country where people have no idea about handball (really a regrettable lack of sports knowledge LOL), and you might have no idea about the Staufer dynasty, and you might never have heard the name Göppingen. And still you might have heard of its most famous export product – which are the Märklin model trains. In Göppingen you find the Märklin Museum where vintage models and modern trains are exhibited. And more than that – because they do not only produce trains but also metal building systems with which kids (and also you, of course) can build the Eiffel Tower and much more.

Mineral Springs and Water for Free

Other enterprises of world reputation are Schuler and Böhringer. Schuler, founded by Louis Schuler in 1839, is the world leader in forming technologies. Schuler delivers production lines, tools and processing know-how for the metalworking industry. Their most important customers are car manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as electro-motor and household appliance industries, and finally it is leading in coin minting technology. The name is always connected with their famous presses (Schuler Pressen). Böhringer whose tradition dates back to 1844 is also working in metal technology, delivering machines for the metal processing industry. As for Schuler, car manufacturers are important customers.

Göppingen is also well-known for its mineral springs. The name of the main source is Christophsquelle. You can buy this mineral water (which is called “Sprudel” – the verb sprudeln means to bubble) in most supermarkets and “Getränkemärkte” (they only sell water, lemonades, juices and alcohol) of the region. You can also fill up your bottles for free at a fountain at the eastern end of Göppingen near the swimming pool.

My Top Five things on the Must-Do list:

1. Hohenstaufen. Walk up to the ruins of the Staufer castle, enjoy the views, visit the gallery of watercolour artist Harald Immig at the start of the walk, have an ice-cream or lunch/afternoon coffee/dinner at a restaurant named Honey-Do from where you have fabulous views over the former Staufer “empire”.

2. Stroll through the city centre with its wonderfully restored old buildings, mainly on Hauptstraße and some narrow parallel streets, like the dark blue painted delicatessen shop Gaiser and the orange Samenzentrale. Have a look at the Schloss which is just some steps away from the main street and relax in one of the cafés at Schillerplatz or indulge in an Italian ice-cream – they have innumerous such brilliant ice-cafés.

3. Visit a handball game of Frisch Auf Göppingen in Hohenstaufenhalle. 4000 people get crammed into this indoor arena, the public are famous for being fanatic, and you will see what fantastic team sport handball is.

4. Visit the Märklin-Museum.

5. Fill up your bottles for free with the local mineral water.



All photos are copyrighted to me if not stated otherwise. Please do not use them without permission. The same applies to my texts. Unfortunately I have already discovered parts of my tips copied word by word by other VT members.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:HANDBALL in a lovely region with beautiful mountains and castles
  • Cons:Too many historic buildings demolished instead of restored
  • In a nutshell:I would rather forget the Staufer Kaisers than the Frisch Auf handball team
  • Last visit to Göppingen: Aug 2010
  • Intro Updated Aug 14, 2012
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Reviews (21)

Comments (2)

  • rexvaughan's Profile Photo
    Aug 13, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    What a wonderful introduction and great suggestions for our visit. Thanks.

  • Kathrin_E's Profile Photo
    Sep 19, 2009 at 4:37 AM

    Wir mussten uns doch vorab mal schlau machen... Sieht so aus, als ob auch Göppingen selbst des Anschauens wert ist! Bis Dienstag!!! Kathrin und Russell

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