Could there possibly anything more romantic than following a road which ends at the spot where the greatest of all Germany’s romantics, King Ludwig II, chose to build the closest thing to a fairy tale castle that the world has ever seen?
Almost certainly not, especially when you consider that the entire 350 km or 217 mile length of the Romantic Road (German: Romantische Straße), from Würzburg to Füssen, meanders through the very same idyllic villages and landscapes which gave rise to Germany’s 18th-century Romantic movement. Many of Germany’s poetic, operatic, and fine arts masterpieces owe their existence to the inspiration of the Romantic Road!
Along the way you’ll join the Romantische Straße’s other followers in feasting your senses on red geraniums bursting forth from village window boxes, and hilltop fortresses and castles from which Teutonic knights rode off to war. Spend sunny afternoons exploring immaculately-preserved medieval town squares with ancient Town Halls and soaring Gothic church spires, and sipping wine so heady that it must be what Heinrich Heine drank when writing his Buch der Lieder! ;-)
The Romantic Road heads south from Würzburg, slowly descending through hillside vineyards and woodlands into the Tauber River Valley. At Bad Mergentheim it leads to the moated castle the Knights of the Teutonic Order received from the Royal House of Hohenlohe in 1219.
Eighteen of the Knights’ Grand Masters used the castle as their primary residence for nearly three hundred years, beginning in 1525. A young Ludwig von Beethoven performed regularly in the castle, and was greatly impressed with its spiral staircase!
Just 13 km or 8 miles east of Bad Mergentheim is the town of Weikersheim, the ancestral seat of the counts of Hohenlohe. Here Count Wolfgang II built his magnificent 16th-century Baroque moated castle, complete with a Knight’s Hall sporting 30-foot ceilings. The castle also has a laboratory in which the Count practiced alchemy (presumably so he could turn stones into gold and pay for his palace!).