Odenwald

Regional Overview

The Forest of Legends

The Odenwald is an unpopulated region, reserved for centuries as an elite hunting domain. The myths and legends associated with the forest run through even the name, which may imply a connection to Odin and the old gods. The region is held together by the river Main, which forms its main axis of travel.

Regional Identity

What to Lookout For

  • Red-Sandstone from the Main Valley used throughout the region
  • The Renaissance Architecture of Mainz and the Palatinate, as seen in Aschaffenburg, Breuberg and Mespelbrunn.
  • The beautiful rolling landscape and ancient castle ruins in the interior

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Justin Bunch | CityscapeTravel My suggested travel destinations with the top three destinations highlighted.

What is the Odenwald?

The Odenwald is a hilly, forested region that sits astride the Main Valley, as it cuts through the Rhön mountains. It has a rugged and densely forested landscape that largely prevented the region’s development.

Historically this meant that the Odenwald served as one of Europe’s largest hunting preserves, the exclusive domain of the Frankish, Carolingian, Salian, and Staufen Emperors, among others.

However, undeveloped does not mean there is nothing to see here. The city of Aschaffenburg was one of the main seats of power for the Prince-Archbishops of Mainz, and they turned it into a symbol of their strength. Enough survived WW2 to make it worth an afternoon trip. Many other palaces and castles of the Bishops dot the landscape. It was not just Mainz competing for control, the Dukes of Hessen-Darmstadt, the Counts of Erbach, and Rieneck, among others, all competed for the region’s wealth.

Regional Overview

Cities of the Odenwald

Hiking in the Region

Hike: Lindenfels Loop

Hike: Lindenfels Loop

Lindenfels was once an important outpost of the Electoral Palatinate in the Odenwald. However, as the region declined in economic importance, so did the castle. Though it was not destroyed,…

Hike: The Lichtenberg Renaissance

Hike: The Lichtenberg Renaissance

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…

Hike: Breuberg Panorama

Hike: Breuberg Panorama

The Breuberg Castle is the Odenwald’s largest and most visually striking fortification. Built on a pinnacle of Basalt and Sandstone, the castle dominates the surrounding valley with its Renaissance bastions.…

Hike: The Otzberg Fortress

Hike: The Otzberg Fortress

The Otzberg fortress was an outpost that traded hands between the Electoral Palatinate and Hessen. Though besieged many times, it was spared the targeted destruction faced by other regional castles.…

My Quantitative Travel Rankings

To understand where the categories come from, see this article here.

Social Score

4.6 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Hype: 2.1
  • Growth: 2.0
  • Wealth: 8.9
  • Recognition: 3.4
Ease of Travel

4.5 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Accommodation: 2.8
  • Transportation: 4.0
  • Ease of Planning: 8.0
  • Infrastructure: 6.1
  • Interactivity: 3.4
  • Airport: No
Historical Immersion

4.6 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Historical Context: 4.5
  • Monuments: 3.8
  • Quality*: 5.0
  • Landscape: 10
  • Vineyards: 3.5
Authenticity

5.1 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Undiscovered: 3.5
  • Cultural Immersion: 7.3
  • Tradition*: 4.0

Navigation

Franconia

The spectacular achievements of the Franks can be seen in the great monuments of Würzburg, Nürnberg and Bamberg.

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