One of the things I love about Europe is that in every town you can find houses that are older than the United States of America. Your perspective of “old” totally changes. Even more fascinating is being able to hike up to the 800+ year-old remnants of a castle in which knights or royalty once lived only a short drive from your house.
Just a 15 minute drive from Hohenfels is a town called Kallmünz, which is home to such a castle. People have lived in this little corner of the world since the Bronze Age. You guys, that’s like since 500 B.C.! People started building primitive outer walls of this castle possibly as early as the 900’s and by the 13th century the castle’s inner walls were fully constructed and its residents were being mentioned in early Bavarian chronicles. From 1459 to 1641 the castle bounced back and forth between Bavarian and Palatine hands and then it was ransacked and burned during the Thirty Years War by the Swedes (dang it, Swedes!). Since then it’s been ruins and people pillaged the rocks from the castle to build other stuff until it was set up as a historical site.
I found MilliGFunk’s blog post and followed her directions to figure out where to park (thanks!). Once we got there I strapped our new-born to my front and my husband strapped our two year old to his back and we walked about a half a mile up a hill to Kallmünz castle. The path was a little rocky, but if you have a stroller with good tires you would definitely be able to push it up without any issues. There is no cost for parking or to get into the castle.
When you get up to the castle you can take in a great view of Kallmünz and the river Naab below. It is also really neat to walk around and look at the ancient well, stone outlines of castle rooms, imagine being an archer looking through tiny windows, and try your best to read the German signs (or use an app to translate if you’re fancy) so you can learn a little history.
If you’re up for a hike and you want to get in touch with your inner princess (or medieval wench – whatever, no judgement), I highly suggest taking an hour to go check out Kallmunz Castle. Let me know how you like it!
I’m a little embarrassed to say that I lived five minutes from Hohenfels castle but it took me over a year to go explore the place. Part of the reason was that when I would drive through the town of Hohenfels, I just didn’t see an entry way anywhere. Most of the reason was that I just got too busy with life to look at what was right in front of me.
Most people in the world have probably never heard of Hohenfels, Germany. I know about it because I was stationed at the Army post in the town. In the town there are castle ruins that sit atop the hill that overlooks the town. There is still a huge tower that is mostly intact that you can see clearly as you drive through the town. So finally, while I was on maternity leave and had no excuse about not having the time to go up to the castle, we decided to go figure out how to get up that hill.
At first I looked up online how to get to the castle, but I couldn’t find anything. There was a little information about the history of the town and castle. As it turns out the castle dates all the way back to the 1200’s! Perhaps if I knew what to search for in German, I would have been able to find more. As it was, we took the main road into the town and parked near a tiny church that looked like it was near a road that might lead up to the castle. If you are ever in Hohenfels and want to know how to get there, take the main road that goes past JMRC into Hohenfels and park in the parking lot on the right-hand side across from the little yellow church where all the glass recycling bins are. Once you’re out of your car cross the street and just walk up the road near the little church toward the castle. There is no trick or turns or anything that you have to worry about, as long as you are going up toward the castle, you’re on the right path.
We followed the little path and then we came to the castle. It is mostly just ruins, but you can walk around where the castle used to be and look at the old rock walls, stand near the tower and imagine how it must have been to build something so huge and high up so many years ago, and enjoy a great view of the town of Hohenfels. It really is beautiful, especially in the spring when the flowers are blooming or in the few weeks of fall when the leaves are all different colors. After you are done taking in the sights it is just a short walk to the center of town where you can grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants.
This was a good family activity. It’s free, so that’s always awesome. The walk was not bad at all. Even with little kids it took us about 10 minutes to get to the top from the parking lot. The only caveat is that this is not stroller friendly and you need to hold on to your kids while you’re up on the castle because it is literally on a cliff. We had the baby in the carrier and kept hold of our two boy’s hands at all times and did fine. Happy hiking!