"Die Perle des Filstals - Pearl of the Fils Valley" Gingen an der Fils by Kakapo2
Gingen an der Fils Travel Guide: 26 reviews and 119 photos
As already mentioned in my Germany intro, Gingen is home of Jürgen Klinsmann and me. This fact alone makes it worth a visit ;-) Go to the sportsground, and you are at the place where Jürgen started his career as a goalgetter in the E-Jugend team of TB Gingen, passing our house on the way to the training, and I nearly killed an athletics mate throwing a javelin right through his hair while he had his knees already bent… Other famous sports people of the place were the “Gingenellis”, Germany’s best sports acrobats in the 1960’s and 1970’s. And Gingen was the first town in the district of Göppingen which had a sports stadium of international standard and measures for handball; so the famous handball team of Frisch Auf Göppingen played its first European Cup games in Gingen’s Hohensteinhalle. Long, long ago. Today the stadium is a kind of antiquity that could not make the step into modern times. (BTW Handball is the most popular and successful sport of the region, not football - although we had "Klinsi".)
Never mind. Gingen, located on the main traffic (B 10) and railway line between Stuttgart (55 km) and Ulm (38 km), and the foot of the Schwäbische Alb, has a better reputation for its historic assets anyway. The protestant church named Johanneskirche has the oldest exactly dated church inscription of Germany. It is from the year 984 and is from a former Roman prayer house (Bethaus), probably a small chapel. The people of Gingen have just mastered a Hercules job to save this landmark church which is visible from all hills of the Fils Valley, somehow dominating the whole valley. The tower of the church was leaning, and if nothing had been done it would have suffered major damage at some point. So a lot of money was raised to do the difficult repair job, getting the leaning tower straight again. Now you can admire it in its whole beauty. Inside the church you find frescos from 1524.
Between the church and the vicarage, a beautiful half-timbered house, you find rather a funny fountain, named Schnapperbrunnen which literally translated means: snappers or snatchers fountain. This refers to the Gingen’s people’s nickname Schnapper (snappers, snatchers) which describes their clever nature in the good old days. They were always faster and more resourceful than their neighbours. This was also the case when every village was looking for water supply. The Gingeners snatched the so-called Siebenquellen (Seven Sources) on Spitzenberg, a hill between Gingen and Kuchen, from the Kucheners. If you look closely at the fountain in front of the churchyard you will see seven sources and three Gingeners dancing around them triumphantly.
To be honest, the Gingeners have a second nickname which is a lot less flattering. The name “Mondlöscher” (Moon Extinguishers) refers to a night when the fire brigade was called because someone had spotted a big red fire ball on Hohenstein, Gingen’s signature mountain. When the fire brigade arrived up there they found out that the alleged fire was the moon beautifully shining through the trees… ;-)
In Gingen the Fils Valley somehow has the perfect width, not too wide to make the town of about 4500 inhabitants look lost in a plain and not too narrow to make it look squeezed between the hills. In the centre stands the towering Johanneskirche with its majestic white spire. For this perfect look it is called “Die Perle des Filstals” – “The Pearl of the Fils Valley”. The Fils BTW has its spring in Wiesensteig near the Autobahn A 8, passes the Upper Fils Valley (Oberes Filstal) to Geislingen/Steige, an then, after an extreme bend, flows down to the district capital Göppingen and near Plochingen into the Neckar.
When I was a child Gingen had a public fountain with mineral water but this deteriorated and had to be closed. Other places along the Fils have kept their mineral sources. Nationally the most famous one is Bad Überkingen and Bad Ditzenbach which are spa towns of national reputation, and also in Göppingen you can fill up your bottles for free.
What I love about Gingen is its great location between bigger commercial centres like Geislingen and Göppingen, and Stuttgart and Ulm are not too far away for shopping visits, or international sports and cultural events. It is surrounded by lovely hills, the Hohenstein right above the railway line being the highest one with an altitude of 701 metres, namesake of the sports stadium and the school.
You can start short and endless walks and great hiking tours over the hills of the former Staufer emperors, or the Earls of Rechberg, with ruins of former castles and fortresses everywhere. You find bicycle tracks. The Schwäbische Alb track leads through Gingen and interconnects with other tracks. The possibilities of being active in a safe environment are endless. And you easily get everywhere. Even if there is a fence around a paddock you will always find a track between the fields and paddocks. Farmers cannot keep you away from peaks and forests. You must not admire nature from a distance but can be in the middle of it.
Gingen is an old place as you can deduct from its church inscription. It was first mentioned in 901, as Ginga – rather funny, as in the Schwäbisch (Swabian) dialect it is pronounced nearly like that. Genga. From 1100 it belonged to the Earls of Helfenstein (which is the landmark castle above Geislingen) and later became part of the free Reichs city of Ulm. In 1803 Gingen became Bavarian but already seven years later it went back to Württemberg. Due to Ulm practising the reformation in 1531 Gingen is mainly protestant but after WW2 many catholics from the German outposts like Bohemia settled in the town, but only since 1965 Gingen has a catholic church named Barbarakirche. It is a modern concrete building and not very exciting.
You must not have a car to get to Gingen. But only the regional trains stop once an hour. Occasionally you might find a train that goes through from Ulm but generally you have to change in Geislingen if you come from Ulm and in Göppingen or Süßen if you come from Stuttgart. To get around and explore the gems of the region, however, it is great to have a car, or at least a bicycle. If you are fit you get up nearly every hill on a bike. If not… Be prepared to push it :-) This beautiful region is worth the effort.
I dedicate this page to the people of Gingen. Some of them have always followed my career with pride. And of course, to my parents, who are still living there, 88 and 85 years old. They had their diamond anniversary on 29 March 2008. My father was even born in Gingen, and has done a lot for the place and especially for the sport in Gingen. It is still very impressive to me how nice and thankful his former handball players are. In the meantime about 60 year old guys, they still indulge in their holiday camps my father once organised when they were 15 years old, and all the good he did for the club TB Gingen. And to my mother, well… Look at the photo in my general tips and you can imagine why I still look so young at the age of 108... LOL
- Pros:Yes - really the Pearl of the valley with endless options for outdoor activities
- Cons:Too far away from New Zealand ;-)
- In a nutshell:There could be no better place to grow up - so green, hilly and peaceful
- As mentioned in my intro, Jürgen Klinsmann spent his childhood in Gingen and also started his football career here... more travel advice
- You cannot complain about the shopping opportunities in Gingen if you refer to the basics. It is no place to stroll... more travel advice
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