Weinheim is just a short distance away from Heidelberg and Mannheim. It is on the German Bergstraße which crosses the southern Hesse and the northern Baden-Württemberg. In fact, it is a perfect day trip destination from Frankfurt, Heidelberg or Mannheim.
On a deep autumn day, I visited this place. It surprised me with its awesome old city centre and the appealing views from the two castles, Windeck Castle and Wachenburg Castle. Before entering the city, I headed to the Wachenburg Castle first and then the Windeck Castle. Afterward, I strolled around the old city centre and the castle park behind the current city hall. Having walked a couple of hours, I rewarded myself a delicious French meal.
I parked my car below the castle and walked up. The walkway to the castle is full of foliage. The lovely afternoon sun blazed through the trees. It was a pleasant short walk to the castle.
330-metre above the rooftops of Weinheim, built between 1907 and 1928 by the Weinheimer Senior Citizens Convent, a Corps of former students, the Wachenburg Castle is not a medieval knight’s castle but a meeting place and conference venue. Today it still has the same function.
Its main hall is a big ballroom. Tables and chairs are arranged stylishly. On the back of each chair the name of a former student who helped to build this castle. The ballroom has an elegant ambience with its impressive chandeliers. Events such as weddings, meetings, congresses, receptions, concerts, fairs, auctions or fashion shows are frequently hosted on the venue.
Wachenburg castle contains a restaurant with a panoramic view over the Rhine plain up to the Palatinate Forest. The gastronomic offer ranges from regional home-made cuisines to culinary delicacies. Its drinks menu includes a comprehensive selection of the best local and international wines and spirits.
A comfortable outdoor seating in the courtyard is appealing. And, the magnificent view over the Rhine valley is awesome. From there, the autumn sunset is a unique spectacle.
After a few minutes of driving, I arrived at Windeck Castle. Located to the east of Weinheim on top of a 222-metre hill, the castle was erected in 1109 to defend the widespread properties of the Lorsch Abbey. However, the land on which it stood belonged to the parish of Michelstadt.
When Lorsch Abbey lost its autonomy in 1232, all its possessions were shared between the archbishopric of Mainz and the County Palatinate. Over the following decades, the castle changed hands several times between the Palatinate and Mainz until it was finally taken over by the Palatinate in 1344.
Later, during the 30-year War, the castle was so damaged that the construction work was required in 1663. But in 1674 the French general Turenne further destroyed the castle thus it became uninhabitable.
In 1803, Windeck Castle was taken over by the State of Baden and was sold in 1900 to the Count of Berckheim who partially repaired the walls. Since 1978, the castle belongs to the city of Weinheim, which has since carried out extensive work to safeguard the building.
The castle today is pretty much a ruin. The 28-metre high castle tower is the best-kept part of the castle. The original entrance via the Castle was much smaller and could only be reached by ladders. There were no stairs. The so-called “Terror hole” in the floor marks the entrance to the dungeon located 11 metres beneath.
The Windeck Castle is usually open to the public unless an event is taking place. There is a restaurant now in the castle courtyard. From there, I had another view of Weinheim and the surrounding valley.
The old city centre (die Altstadt)
From the market square of the old city centre, I could spot the Windeck Castle in the sunset. The first attractive building is the old city hall. It used to be an open hall. From 1752 until after the war, it served as the town hall. It bears the Weinheim coat of arms and consists the Renaissance paintings.
In the immediate vicinity stands the market fountain from 1928 with the statue of Justitia and the magnificent half-timbered building of the Löwen-Apotheke from the beginning of the 17th century. Another building at the market square is the Catholic Church of St. Lawrence, rebuilt in 1911-13.
In the upper part of the market square is the Fürstenzimmer in which the educator, writer, and politician Albert Ludwig Grimm, not related to the Brothers Grimm lived. He was the first to publish an adaptation of the fairy tale “Snow White” in German.
The Gerberbach Quarter (Gerberbachviertel)
Weinheim is also famous for its half-timbered houses. To the east of former hospital Ulner Chapel is the Gerberbachviertel, where tanner’s houses from the 16th to the 19th century stood next to each other. The houses in the Quergäßchen, Gerbergasse, and Münzgasse were workhouses with open arcades to the workshops. Today the old half-timbered houses at the Gerberbachviertel look very picturesque. In this quarter near the creek, one can still see some former tanner’s houses and tannery workshops.
The city hall
The former castle, today the town hall and seat of the city administration, is composed of components of different epochs. To the oldest building from the time around 1400 belongs the passage of the Obertorturms, which lost its fortified character at the end of the 17th Century. To the north is the Renaissance building of the Electoral Palace of 1537. In the second half of the 19th century, the Berckheim family added the neo-Gothic tower in 1868. The baroque castle part to the south of the Obertor was built in 1725 by the Ulner von Dieburg family. Currently, this part is a restaurant.
The castle’s park (Der Schlosspark)
In front of the city, the castle is a well-maintained, spacious green park with valuable trees and a beautiful pond. Huge rhododendrons and yew bushes, as well as the largest Lebanon cedar in Germany, are impressive. Due to the mild climate, all sorts of plants that were originally native to the Mediterranean flourish here. There is a medicinal plant garden located within the castle park.
The restaurants in the old city centre of Weinheim
Having walked for several hours, I couldn’t think of anything but food. Luckily, there are many restaurants and cafes in the old centre. I have noticed several Tapas restaurants and even a French restaurant. All the restaurants were busy. I opted for a French restaurant which owned by a French. The restaurant was very cozy. I ordered a Galette, a type of French food made from buckwheat, salt and water. It is similar to the Japanese Soba pastry. The one I ordered was filled with cured ham and cheese, topped with eggs, mushrooms and green leaves like spinach. It’s yummy!
The Suggested tour
Take part in an exciting Segway Tour through the city of two castles. You will marvel at the Weinheimer Castle and its splendid Castle Park and travel over the new Castle path to Windeck Castle. Besides, you will visit Wachenburg to enjoy the great views of the town, and more.
There is a certain limitation to join the tour. Anyone who is at least 15 years old and has at least a related license may take part. Participants must also weigh between 45 and 115 kg. Thee are other conditions also applied to the Segway Tour. For the detail information, please check here.
Where to stay
Located in Weinheim, hotel Ulner Kapelle offers accommodation with a seating area and a kitchen. Complimentary WiFi is provided. All units feature air conditioning and a cable flat-screen TV. There is a dishwasher, a coffee machine, and a kettle.
This property also has one of the best-rated locations in Weinheim. Guests are happier about it compared to other properties in the area. Couples particularly like the location. They rated it 9.6 for a two-person trip. This property is also rated for the best value in Weinheim. Guests are getting more for their money when compared to other properties in this city.
There are several other hotels and apartments in the area. Check the best hotel in Weinheim and book well ahead for the best offer.
How to get there
There is a train from the Frankfurt Central Train Station to Weinheim train station. It takes around 90 minutes.
It takes about 40 minutes to drive to Weinheim from Frankfurt Airport. The driving is easy, just follow the highway A5.