The Battle of Hürtgenwald was a rare Allied Defeat on the Western Front in WWII. Unlike other failed campaigns such as Market Garden or Kasserine Pass, the Battle of Hürtgenwald was a devastating meat grinder. The Kall Valley formed the initial assault vector for the allied attack. The steep hills and inclement weather created immense difficulties for Allied Forces. This hike combines the beautiful natural landscape of the Eifel with the traces of this devastating conflict.
The three Gleichen castles were the seat of the County Gleichen, in addition to fortresses belonging to the Abbot of Hersfeld and the Margraves of Thuringia. The castles guarded the important trade route of the Via Regia, and were subsequently besieged and destroyed multiple times over the course of history. Today, the three castles form a dramatic landscape in the Thuringian basin that is also easily accessible. Take a high-speed train from Frankfurt to Berlin through Erfurt, and you will see them as you pass by. This hike takes you on a trip to visit all three.
The Renaissance Palace of Lichtenberg in the Fischbachtal Valley is one of the few preserved Renaissance estates of the Hessen Dynasty. Though only a few interiors have survived to the present (and can be visited on request), the castle's exterior is remarkably intact, without additions or modifications from the Baroque or Romantic periods. The hike takes you around the town of Niederhausen to get the best views of the castle, and following that, it takes you through some of the beautiful landscapes of the Odenwald.
The Klause Kastel is a 19th-century sepulcher for John of Bohemia, a famous 14th-century knight who, according to legend, commanded an army while blind. The sepulcher is, however, built into a cliffside complex of ancient caves carved out in the 10th-15th centuries as monastic hideouts. This hike takes you along some of the most spectacular vistas of the Saar Valley to an exciting relic of medieval history.
The Via Regia is an ancient trade route that stretched across Central Europe, connecting Krakow and Paris, with major stops in Frankfurt and Leipzig and several divergent paths. Part of the road has been preserved near the town of Fulda as a result of its use as a military highway in the 18th and 19th centuries and its abandonment in the 20th. This hike walks along its old route, and occasionally you may still see some original pavement.