Michelstadt, a Hidden Gem in Germany’s Odenwald

Located in the heart of the Odenwald nature park in the south of Hesse the beautiful historic city of Michelstadt is a perfect day trip destination from Frankfurt. You can take B45 and it takes you about one hour and 10 minutes.  Alternatively you can take A5 and in one hour and 20 minutes you will be there. There are plenty of parking places outside of the old city centre.

To visit the old part takes around one hour to three hours. Cobbled streets, unique half-timbered houses and shops fill up the old town centre. But if you want to see all other sights as well, then you need to plan for more hours.  Things to do and to see in old town centre are as follow.

Michelstadt Historical Town Hall (Rathaus)

When you entere the old town you will not miss this famous town hall. It was built by unknown builders in 1484.  It was a typical type of German Town Hall at that time. The building is a delightful piece of half-timbered architecture and the whole structure is perched on oak timbers.

Historical Town Hall
Historical Town Hall

Market Fountain (Marktbrunnen)

In front of the town hall the market fountain is built in Renaissance style. Count George II of Erbach donated it in 1575.  The fountain is adorned with a figure of St. Michael holding with his scales and sword.  On the top is the Michelstadt’s coat of arms.

Market Fountain
Market Fountain

Diebsturm

Built around 950 AD, the Diebsturm is well over 1000 years old. Since 1312 it served as a prison. “Dieb” means robbery and “Turm” means tower.  That is how the tower got its name.

Die Kellerei

Constructed in the Middle Ages it was restructured later by the Lorsch Abbot Gerbodo. After the destruction in 1307 followed by a subsequent reconstruction, it was the residence of the Grafen of Erbach.

Museum in der Kellerei

The museum houses information related to the city’s history. In a separate exhibition room on the first floor is the Fritz Kredel Collection, with his book illustrations and drawings etc.  Fritz Kredel was a German born in Michelstadt, later American artist and graphic designer. In1938 he fled Germany for political reasons. After emigrating to the United States that year, he taught at Cooper Union in New York and continued to work as an artist. He produced illustrations for over 400 books in German and English and received many awards and honors. Many of his originals are now housed at the Art Library at Yale University.

The admission is free. You can book a guided tour as well.

Kellerei in michelstadt
Kellerei in michelstadt

Synagoge

The Michelstadt  Synagoge is one of the few Jewish houses of worship preserved in southern Hesse after the Nazi started the persecution of the Jews. The interior was once completely destroyed, but the structure remained intact. In the post-war years, the synagogue was renovated. But it was no longer used for worship purposes. Instead the Jewish Museum was set up in the rooms. It bears the name of the Landesrabbiners dr. I. E. Lichtigfeld, who presided over the Jewish communities of the state of Hesse from 1954 to 1967 as a religious leader.

On display are religious items, archives and photos of the former Jewish citizens. The collection gives an insight into the religious, social and political conditions of the Odenwald Jews during past centuries.

In 2005, the Landesrabbiner Dr. Salomon Almekias-Siegl generously donated a Thorarolle. Since then, the Jewish community of Michelstadt does worships in the synagogue again.

Stadtkirche (City Church)

The current presence of city church dates back to the year 1461. The construction work was completed in 1537. Inside the church are numerous grave monuments. These are also sculptural works in different styles.

Cafe Sieffert

This local cafe house is just next to the city hall. It has a cozy inside and outside seating places.  There are many beautifully arranged cakes to offer.  Different type of coffees and teas are also available. You can also buy sweets and cookies there. What I find the best is the ice cream combination. I tried the Mango-Chilli ice cream and it was surprisingly yummy. Looking around I saw that the owner has won many prizes in bakery.  That might explain why the price is a little high.

Beautifully arranged cakes and sweets
Beautifully arranged cakes and sweets

Once you have a rest and still have some time, you can see the other interesting sights listed below.

Einhardsbasilika

The Einhardsbasilika in district Steinbach of Michelstadt is very old. It was built after 815 and before 827 by Einhard, a court scholar and biographer of Charlemagne. It is one of the last examples of authentically preserved Carolingian architecture in Germany.

The Fürstenau Castle in Steinbach

Fürstenau Castle is also located in the Steinbach district. To protect its possessions the Kurfüstentum Mainz built this Wasserburg around 1250. Today the entire castle complex is still inhabited and it belongs to one of the most beautiful German castles.

Fürstenau Castle
Fürstenau Castle  (Source: Simone / flickr)

You can visit this palace between 10.00 to 16:00 daily.  As the family is living there, you should check the latest opening times at Guest Information Michelstadt for further information:

Marktplatz 1
64720 Michelstadt
Telefon: 06061-74-610
E-Mail: touristik@michelstadt.de
Facebook: Kulturamt Michelstadt

Michelstadt has not only sights to see but also many festivals to join. Some famous festivals are:

Bienenmarkt

Every year the festival starts on Friday before Pfingsten and lasts ten days. Bienenmarkt  is one of the major events in southern Hesse with tens of thousands of visitors. The festival offers many sports, cultural activities and entertainments. The children’s festival takes place on Wednesdays and a special highlight is the flower parade on the last market Sunday.

Wochenmarkt (Weekly market)

The weekly market takes place every Friday from 8 am to 1 pm on the Bienenmarkt parking place. Local farmers sell fresh products from the region. The weekly market offers vegetables, cheese, sausage, meat or fresh eggs etc.  These local products have not only the organic quality but also  the guaranteed freshness.

Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market)

The Christmas market in Michelstadt is among the ten most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany. More than 100 market stalls offer handmade arts and crafts. Wine taverns, cafés and restaurants make the Christmas atmosphere in Michelstadt far beyond the usual.

The other festivals are for example the Weinbrunnenfest (kind of wine festival) which takes place in Autumn. Join any of these festival you will experience the local culture and lifestyle.

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