Places to see in Germany
Top 10 sights in the Westerwald
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Welcome to one of Germany’s most beautiful places to see: The Westerwald. This mountain range covers about 3,000 square kilometres. Besides a lot of forest, which is perfect for hiking, and the numerous villages, this area is home to a multitude of sights of very different kinds. Culture lovers, people interested in history and children will all get their money’s worth here – and ten particularly striking attractions are presented below.
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The beautiful market square in Hachenburg, as it can be seen today, was built in the 17th century after the great fire of 1654. This is where the oldest German inn made of stone can be found: the “Krone”, with its talisman, the head of a Moor, standing on its gable. Today, the building, also known as the “Steinerne Haus”, is a hotel. The two long tails of the large gold-plated lion figure on the market fountain symbolise the connection between the princely houses of Sayn and Wittgenstein. If you like, you can visit the two large churches next to the market square and explore various other interesting places, such as the castle or its garden.
Mining was an important industry in the Westerwald. The mining museum in Herdorf-Sassenroth reveals how miners lived and also provides interesting details about mining. The excursion will interest the whole family because there are special activities for children, too. If that weren’t enough, the indoor and outdoor areas offer plenty to see. Otherwise, and while the city is worth a visit, the nature surrounding it is even more so. Herdorf is encircled by myriad forests: you can enjoy a beautiful view of the town and its surroundings from the cross at Leyfels or near the cuckoo oak.
The Isenburg castle ruin belongs to the village of Isenburg, and to the town of Dierdorf as a result. The castle was inhabited by the lords of Isenburg until the 17th century, with the lower part of the gate tower and parts of a residential building having been preserved. There is a footpath to the top, which can be reached via the “Große Luft” street in Isenburg. You can also visit the Isenburg local history museum, which boasts an array of details and an original nail smithy. To relax, you might like to go to the castle park in Dieburg, a beautiful place to be.
If you pass the Marienstatt Monastery in Streithausen on your hiking or cycling trips through the Westerwald, you should spend a good amount of time visiting this Cistercian abbey, as it is one of numerous romantic places to see in Germany. It was founded as far back as 1212. The best way to do this is to take a break in the restaurant attached to the in-house brewery. The refreshment area is open all year round, with both a beer garden and seating inside. There is also a bookshop and an art shop. You can even take a video tour to learn more about the monastery, life there and its buildings such as the abbey and the basilica. By the way, you can also hear the largest organ in the Westerwald here at the monastery.
The castle after which the village of Greifenstein is named was mentioned as far back as the twelfth century. The bell museum in the gun tower (bulwark) is home to around 100 bells, representing the most important collection of bells in Germany. Here, visitors are even allowed to strike them themselves. Apart from that, the castle’s towers are also worth a visit because you can enjoy a fantastic view of your surroundings from them. Whether you’re interested in the herb garden or prison, chapel or casemates, there are plenty of interesting places to explore. The hiking trails in the local area mean that the Greifenstein castle ruin is a popular stopping-off point.
Once upon a time, crusaders lived here, but today Franciscan nuns run this monastery (near Neustadt/Wied), which has a chequered history. It is definitely worthwhile poking your head into the monastery church with its centuries-old lead glass windows, late Gothic figures and impressive baroque pulpit. The monastery was partly demolished due to its dilapidated state, but the current owners are currently restoring it as a conference venue. It can already be used as such, and guest rooms and catering are also available. Several hiking trails lead past the monastery. If you want to do so, you can even start your hike from here, for example, on a circular route towards Mehrbachtal and back.
You can sign up for a guided tour, but you can also explore the rose garden (plus the Herzenberg chapel) at Hadamar on your own at any time. Here, you will be able to enjoy a pleasant moment of peace and relaxation. The garden is laid out in line with the English model and embodies a mixture of romance, charm and beauty. You can experience this all year round, even though the roses only bloom in summer. If you’re interested, you can take an hour’s guided tour of the city before this visit and see the castle, for example. Otherwise, there are various smaller circular walks and, of course, the option of going on longer trips, too.
Westerwald Cathedral has only had this name since the beginning of the 20th century. In itself, it is the Catholic church of Wirges, consecrated to St. Boniface. It is only about 130 years old and built in a neo-Gothic style. The rich interior decoration contains an organ made by Göckel, along with other treasures. Since Westerwald Cathedral is located in the town itself, you can also take a look at the town centre, if you’re interested. Here, one of the attractions you will find is a beautiful fountain with figures of glassblowers and potters, whose art was once the most important trade in the city.
One of the most interesting places in Germany are its numerous castles and ruins. Pick any and you will enjoy a great walk down history lane. The ruins of Sporken castle are located about one kilometre southeast of the gates of the village of Eitelborn. It lies in the middle of the forest and can be visited at any time. It is currently owned by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which has had the castle walls restored time and again. If you are interested in a beautiful round trip to Sporken castle and back, you can start at the Barbara Chapel in Eitelborn, which was consecrated only a few years ago. Otherwise, the stunning surroundings are excellent for hiking and cycling. The 14-kilometre Wäller Tour Augst also passes Sporken castle.
The basalt park near Bad Marienberg is a wonderful open-air museum where you can see all kinds of details about this german area’s volcanic past. This led to the inhabitants mining basalt for many years, and this was, in fact, an important cornerstone of the economy. Young and old alike can enjoy the museum, which is open all year round and free of charge: they can look at a quarry, basalt rocks, and tools, while soaking up all the information provided on display boards. It is also worth following the circular nature trail along the lake.