Exquisite Bad Wimpfen!
Bad Wimpfen is an exquisite little town along the river Neckar, across from the mouth of the river Jagst, in the German country side. It is believed that the name "Wimpfen" is derived from the Celtic language but unfortunately we could not find out what it means.
This Middle Age town, less than a hour from Heidelberg, is one of our preffered places in the Neckar valley and for good reasons: it was left mainly intact during the first and the second world wars and thus, still has very old well look after houses. Another interesting characteristic of Bad Wimpfen is that you can see beautifully preserved Franconians as well as Alemans half-timbered houses, some of them dating from the 14th century.
There has been settlements there since the Celts (at least 5th century BC) but it is during the Romans invasion that the area became a real city.
During the second half of the 1st century AD, after defeating the Gauls, the Romans arrived in the Rhine, the Neckar and the Danube valleys, and under Emperor Domitian they created the German lime, a frontier between them and the German tribes. This border, the German Lime, is still visible in some parts of Germany (such as in the town of Osterburken) and it is well documented.
However, with the fall of Rome, roman soldiers were left on their own and the beautiful roman town was destroyed, not by the Huns, but by the destructive forces of the Alemans.
After the destruction of the roman city, the Francs took over. Little is known of this period, only that they probably brought christianity with them and that the town and the old Franconian royal estate with all its rights finished under the ruling of the Bishop of Worms. In 965, Kaiser Otto 1st confirmed the immunity of the Bishop. But once again the city was destroyed, this time by the Hungarians.
We do not know if a Merovingians castle was ever built in Bad Wimpfen, but we do know that by 1182 the Staufians (Hohenstaufen; a dynasty of Germanic Kings (1138-1254), many of whom were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor and Dukes of Swabia) were in Wimpfen and so, it is accepted that the Emperors Palace in Wimpfen was built then.
Little is left nowadays of that Staufian Palace in Bad Wimpfen, but at the time it was the largest Imperial Palace of its kind north of the Alps. What is left are two imposing towers, the "Steinhaus" (Stone House), the Hohenstaufen Gate, the palace chapel and the arches. A plan of the palace can be seen on a wall by one of the towers.
We love the Christmas market (Weihnachtmarkt) in Bad Wimpfen! It is smaller than in Heidelberg and somehow feels as if you were back in time during a medieval Christmas: the streets and some houses are decorated for the occasions and there are little stalls in every corners.
Some of them sell hand made and home made merchandises (instead of the made in China stuff that you find often in bigger markets) and others sell home made cookies and other
German Christmas delicacies.
There are magicians and jokers doing tricks, kids running and laughing all around, and the whole ambiance is one joy and pure happiness. The first few Christmas markets in Germany must have looked like to this one: with food for sell in one stall and Christmas decorations in the next, without any real order. It is really festive and welcoming!
And it looks so different from its Summer-self, with all this activity going on in its narrow streets that we got lost and fund ourselves in one of the most delicious little pastry shops and Cafés in Germany! Not a bad way to recover!
Another interesting sight to discover is the Schweine Museum; the pig Museum. There are hundreds and hundreds of statues, pictures, paintings, posters, etc. with the beast. In fact, it is the biggest Schweine collection in the entire world!
From precious small jade statue to big, real size, stuffed wild boar, they have it all. And of course, you can buy a small gloden-colour-pig for your wallet: it brings luck and thus, your sure to always have at least a little "gold" in it!
Bad Wimpfen also has a few good restaurants and hotels and is well known for its "Bad", i.e. Bath or Spa.
It had been know for a long time that there was salt in the area of Bad Wimpfen, and in the 17th century a salt quarry was open. Unfortunately this quarry was an economic disaster and it was closed. It is only in 1817 that a second attempt was made and that the salt-works Ludwigshalle was founded in a different location and became successful. The brine that was fund there is the main reason why Wimpfen gradually became a popular spa.
The Spa Hotel Mathildenbad was founded in 1835 on that salt water source and played a central role in the development of Wimpfen as a popular spa town. It is in 1930 that the town was given the title "Bad" (Bath= Spa).
Bad Wimpfen is also part of the Burgenstrasse or Historic Castle Route. And with a well know Spa and such a beautiful view on the Neckar, it is the ideal place to stop for a holiday or on your way to the next castle along the
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