"Odenwald" Frankfurt am Main Off The Beaten Path Tip by alza

Frankfurt am Main Off The Beaten Path: 148 reviews and 217 photos

by alza

Steppenwolf, Veste Otzberg

The Odenwald is an ancient forest that winds its way into river valleys south of Frankfurt-am-Main. Nature here is bucolic and filled with medieval legends. Small towns appear at every turn, very inviting with their half-timbered houses on market squares, and old stone fountains.

The Odenwald measures 80k long (between the Main and the Neckar) by 64k wide. It's a pleasant day ride by car but I could have spent two days along the Nibelungenstrasse and the Siegfriedstrasse, easily! The climate is very mild, the air is fresh and the many springs are straight out of Wagner's epic tale. A popular excursion is to hike to the Felsenmeer (Sea of Boulders) for a good view over the ancient forest valley. The rock cascades on the ridge are legendary and said to have been made by a battle of Titans...

All this puts one in a state of mind that welcomes mystery and legends... In the 14th century, a knight from Neunkirchen called Hans von Rodenstein won a beautiful lady at a tournament but then abandoned her. Later as he was dying in a battle, he was doomed to be hunted by the hounds of hell, who chased him across the Odenwald. The story goes that Odenwälders have heard the terrible complaint of the knight's spirit, a long wail coming from the sky and seen as a bad omen if it comes to Neunkirchen castle...

I had read this story before my day in the Odenwald but when I reached Veste Oztberg and saw that stone wolf wailing to the sky... it hit a nerve. And made me think of Steppenwolf, the book, so that's how I called this picture.

I found out since that "Veste" is a old word for fortress castle. Veste Oztberg sits on top of a hill and is famous for its round white tower in the middle of the courtyard. I finally found a beautiful video of the place, made by the "burgher" Rolf Tilly. He re-enacts games and military manoeuvers from the Middle Ages, jousts and tournaments, while his wife watches over the kitchen and great refectory where traditional meals are served (in great merriment!) Everything looks so good, now I'm sorry the place was closed when I reached Veste Oztberg. What a good reason to return! :)

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 2, 2010
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