Vast green spaces, gardens in full bloom and howling wolves – Medieval towns, picture-book villages, churches and royal castles, the loveliness of the river valleys and the majesty of the mountains: these are what the Romantic Road is famous for.
Not everyone, however, is familiar with the parks to the left and right of the route that are dedicated to a wide range of themes such as garden parks, wildlife enclosures and nature parks. So why not join us on our journey from North to South?
Würzburg, the northern-most point that marks the beginning and end of Germany’s most popular holiday route, can start out by offering two ‘green’ attractions: the Botanical Garden of the University of Würzburg, which is situated on a shell limestone slope, contains around 10,000 species of plants, several collections of plants from around the world and a tropical show house. On the guided tours, interested visitors can discover more about various botanical themes.
The Court Garden of the Residence [Hofgarten der Residenz] is a veritable gem. Prince Bishop Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim (1755–1779) was responsible for the character of today’s Court Garden, which is set out in typical rococo style, reflecting the baroque bastions with their numerous statues and wrought-iron gates. This is an absolute ‘must’ when visiting the Würzburg Residence, which may be mentioned in the same breath as the palaces of Schönbrunn in Vienna and Versailles in Paris.
Quality before quantity is the guiding principle of the wine discovery trail of the Edelberg vineyard in Tauberbischofsheim. There are eleven hectares of area all told, and of these 8.2 hectares are used for the cultivation of no fewer than ten types of grape. The walk along the 1.5-kilometres of discovery trail provides visitors with a good deal worth knowing about viniculture over the course of the year as well as the flora and fauna of the vineyard.
Mid-June to mid-October, www.weinland-taubertal.de
From spring until autumn every year, 1200 trees and thousands of plants transform the spa gardens in Bad Mergentheim into a blossoming paradise. Further attractions are the Japanese garden at the Solymar bathing complex with its miniature waterfalls, Japanese plants and an arched bridge of granite; or the 1800 square metres of rose garden, in which the fragrances of 18 different varieties of roses can be enjoyed. As the atmospherical crowning touch, there are the trick fountains playing to the music of, among others, André Rieu, Rondo Veneziano, the London Symphony Orchestra, John Miles, Queen, Adya or Vangelis and in the evening to the accompaniment of dazzling light effects.
April to November, depending on the weather, www.park-im-kurort.de
In the Bad Mergentheim wildlife park you will find more than just fox and hare to keep you company: wolves and lynxes, raccoons, Artic foxes and wild cats, stone martens and otters, fallow deer and red deer, bisons and wildboars, as well as moufflons and ibexes, all form part of the park’s animal community. These are joined by owls, birds of prey and storks. In the new beaver enclosure visitors have access to a beavers’ lodge as well as a fruit bats’ cave and a hermit ibis aviary.
Mid-March to the beginning of November, www.wildtierpark.de
Weikersheim Palace is considered to be the most beautiful of the Hohenlohe residences. Not only is the Palace perfectly preserved, but so are the grounds surrounding the count’s residence. A true highlight is the Baroque Palace Park of Weikersheim with its incomparable wealth of figures, which include the unique dwarf gallery in stone, and the orangeries. A comparison with the garden at the Palace of Versailles is by no means far-fetched. The palace park provides an illustrious setting for concerts and cultural events of every kind.
Open all year, www.schloss-weikersheim.de
Asia in green and in flower is how the Leyks Lotus Garden in Rothenburg ob der Tauber presents itself. On gently hilly terrain covering some 5000 square metres, a landscape garden has been created in imitation of Asian models. There are miniature brooks, ponds and waterfalls to accompany visitors on their tour. Narrow paths wind their way between exotically shaped boulders to idyllically situated resting places. Two terraces offer a magnificent view of blossoming rhododendron bushes, ornamental cherry trees, irises and many other Asian plants. One eye-catcher is the virtually authentic Japanese teahouse with its unmistakable pagoda roof.
April to Christmas, www.lotus-garten.de
Medicinal herbs already had a great role to play in ancient times. Even in the age of modern medicine, however, their efficacy is highly esteemed. The medicinal and herb garden at the Brunnenhaus (well house) in Schillingsfürst was conceived on the lines of its famous monastic model in St. Gallen. In the herb beds, which are marked off by round timbers, up to 60 kinds of medicinal herbs grow and flourish. All the plants are labelled and most of them are arranged according to the symptoms they can cure. The herb garden is sponsored, for example, by chemist’s shops in the surrounding region.
1st April to End October, www.schillingsfuerst.de
A giant impact by a meteorite 14.5 million years ago is the reason for the creation of the Geopark Ries around Nördlingen and Harburg. The Nördlinger Ries impact crater is Europe’s best preserved crater. The shallow, for the most part unforested, caldera, 25 kilometres in diameter and the crater rim, which is up to 150 metres high, are extremely easy to spot from the surrounding countryside. The Ries is densely populated, which is an additional distinguishing feature. The stretches of dry grassland and juniper heath are traditionally used for sheep grazing. Numerous endangered species of animals and plants have their habitat here. Vast expanses of meadow and wetland are source of food for lapwings, curlews, the common snipe and the white stork.
In the Dehner Flower Park in Rain visitors can set off on a botanical world tour. Gardens from Asia, Central Europe and England meet in an area covering 30,000 square metres. One of the main attractions is the Japanese landscape garden with its giant bonsai trees, ponds, water staircases and boulders, as well as a Baroque-style rose court and rhododendron grove. Since 2009, there has been a large naturally laid out educational garden, where visitors both young and old can obtain a closer idea of the beauty of the native world of plants and animals.
Open all year, www.dehner.eu
Nature idyll and oasis of tranquillity at the same time can be found in the Augsburg Botanical Garden with its vast expanses of over 3000 plants, green and blossoming, and distributed over various theme gardens. Whether it be in the Roman garden, or the cottage garden, the medicinal herb and water garden or the Japanese garden, everyone will find their personal favourite spot. In the world of plants under glass things become more lively: the flora of the steppes, savannahs and tropics are brought to life, with flights of tropical butterflies to be seen from February to March.
Open all year, www.botanischer-garten-augsburg.de
After so much flora, it is now fauna’s turn: with more than 500,000 visitors a year, the Augsburg Zoo is one of the best visited attractions in the Bavarian-Swabian area. The zoo is home to more than 300 species, represented by over 1500 animals. It is also part of a large-scale conservation breeding programme for around 20 species that include the Sumatra tiger and the Amur leopard. Special mention must also be made of the deer grasslands that have an authentic aura of Africa. Here, for example, the rare Rothschild or Baringo giraffes, Watusi cattle and Grevy’s zebras feel quite at home. There are 110 reptiles and amphibians, making up 30 species altogether, including monitor lizards, alligators and iguanas.
A veritable hiker’s paradise is Augsburg’s ‘Western Forests’ Nature Park.
The territory, which is 1200 square kilometres in area, and lies between the rivers Mindel, Wertach and Danube, scores points for its vast forests, idyllic valleys of meandering streams and authentic villages. The southern part of the nature park, part of which is in the district of Unterallgäu, bears the name of “Stauden” or “Mozartländle”, as this is where the ancestors of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had their home.
The Ammergebirge Nature Reserve is Southern Germany’s largest sanctuary and covers one of the most beautiful and best preserved parts of the Bavarian Alps. Since 1961, the greatest care has been taken to ensure that this unique mountainous region of the Northern Limestone Alps and its distinctive flora and fauna remain intact. One particular favourite is the tour that leads to the Schleierfälle waterfalls. Here, the wildly dramatic Ammer gorge reveals itself to the hiker from its most beautiful side. The moss-covered cliffs of the Schleierfälle waterfalls cast a fairytale, almost magic, spell on the beholder.
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