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The top 10 excursions in the Westerwald
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The Westerwald is an area of about 3,000 square kilometres extending over the federal states of Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, whose borders meet in High Westerwald. Across these pages, we reveal ten appealing destinations in the Westerwald which are sure to delight the whole family.
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The clay deposits in the Westerwald were formed 30 million years ago. They are the largest contiguous clay areas in Europe. 15 different varieties occur here, including the "white gold", the white clay. Since 1979, the history of clay and the ceramics made from it has been presented in the museum and constantly expanded. The fantastic material also inspires contemporary artists to create wonderful works of art, which are also repeatedly exhibited in the museum. Those who want to take a break can fortify themselves in the in-house café and enjoy the view of the exhibits, which are perfectly displayed in spacious rooms. Otherwise, there are numerous hiking trails around the museum.
All told, seven lakes form the Westerwald lake district. These reservoirs are a wonderful destination for excursions and are accessible at any time of the year. Large parts of the lakes have been declared nature reserves, but there are some you can swim in during the summer, with other water sports such as pedal-boating, surfing or rowing also awaiting you. If you want to explore the lakes on foot, you can hike along the Sieben-Weiher-Weg, either in individual stages or along the entire route (32 kilometres).
Foto: Andreas Pacek, Touristik-Verband Wiedtal e.V.
The Druid Trail, which leads from Kirchen to the Druid's Stone, via the Otto Tower, and back to Kirchen, is about 15 kilometres long: just right for a nice day trip to a geotope that is about 25 million years old and remains a sought-after destination today. The array of legends that surround it are also fascinating and make it one of the best places to visit for nature lovers, hikers and history fans. In fact, the stone was first visited a long time ago by people who probably worshipped the sun here. When you reach the stone, you can take a break from hiking and enjoy the nature of the Westerwald.
The largest organ in the Westerwald is certainly one of the attractions Marienstatt Monastery has to offer. In addition, the Gothic church, begun in 1222, is the oldest of its kind east of the Rhine. Book fans will find real treasures in the extensive library with its more than 80,000 volumes, including texts on parchment and a few cradle prints. The monastery buildings, which are well worth seeing, date from the 18th century. If visitors go to the nearby Felsenstübchen hill, they can enjoy a wonderful view of the valley of the great Nister. The monastery's own brewery with its specialities is remarkable. The adjoining restaurant with beer garden and indoor seating invites you to take a break.
“Gustl's Nativity and Bible World” in Waldbreitbach houses around 2400 Christmas and Passion nativity scenes from all over the world, covering 730 square metres. The museum is open all year round and presents a lovingly designed exhibition that will awaken your longing for Christmas and your desire to have your own nativity scene. You can admire their craftsmanship as well as their ingenuity, but the undisputed centrepiece is the world's largest nativity scene made from natural tree roots, with a height of over eight metres. If you feel like it, you can also explore the village of Waldbreitbach or trek on one of the many hiking trails that cross this village.
This museum near Hachenburg depicts eight Westerwald-style buildings from the 17th to 19th centuries, including a school, a barn and an oil mill. It also has animals and gardens and the work carried out in earlier times is vividly illustrated. Young and old alike will love getting to know this area with all their senses, and perhaps take part in one of the interactive activities. The museum shop also sells a plethora of nostalgic items, some of which make perfect souvenirs. Afterwards, it is worth taking a look at the town’s nearby castle garden, enjoying a walk to the Old Market Square and visiting the two churches.
Fancy some adventurous excursions in Germany? Then your path will lead you here: the wild, romantic gorge at Seck and Gemünden is a nature reserve subject to as little human intervention as possible. Maple, ash and elm are the main trees that grow here. A circuit covering approximately three kilometres, to which a forest nature trail is attached, unveils the full beauty of the gorge that the Holzbach has created over time. If you then feel like soaking up some culture, you can visit the Kilianskirche and the ruins of the Seligenstatt monastery in Seck. There are also various hiking routes around Seck and Gemünden, including the famous WesterwaldSteig.
The Krombach dam, one kilometre southeast of the village of Rehe, is a paradise for families. Here, older children can swim and enjoy water sports such as sailing, surfing or pedal-boating, while younger ones can play on the beach and in the meadows or run riot in the children’s playground. Part of the dam has also been designated as a nature reserve and is therefore a refuge for rare water birds. Explore the surroundings on horseback: various circular hiking trails help you get to know the beautiful nature around Rehe, including a trail that leads to the Krombach dam.
"Kroppach Switzerland" is located near Heimborn, and the Deutsches Eck marks the confluence of the Kleine Nister and the Grosse Nister rivers. The Nister created a wonderful landscape with steep rocks, which gave rise to the name “Kroppach Switzerland”. The village of Kroppach lies directly above the river. At Wilhelmsteg, there is a café with a beer garden, where you can purchase refreshments. There are also many hiking trails running through this area: you’ll hardly be able to get enough of the landscape. If you plan your visit accordingly, you can also visit the annual bridge festival in Limbach, which always takes place on the second Saturday in July.
The open-air park near Enspel is an experience for the whole family: it’s where the history of the last 25 million years comes alive. The old quarry, where basalt was once mined in great quantities, invites young and old alike to enjoy an array of events such as a 24-hour mountain bike race, concerts and Segway rides. You can also celebrate your own events, such as weddings and birthdays, here. The industrial work that was necessary to process the basalt is depicted in a vivid way at the park. In addition, the Stöffel Park, also called Tertiary Park, is an important site for fossil deposits in Germany where children can collect and examine fossils themselves.