Gochsheim shared the fate of most towns and villages in the Upper Rhine Valley: It was burned to ashes by French troops in the Palatinate Heritage War in 1689. Of the medieval church, only the steeple remained. The present church was built in the 18th century on the old foundations. The half-timbered baroque top of the steeple also dates from this rebuilding while the stoen walls underneath are still medieval.
The town hall next to the church is also a late 18th century building, dated 1773, though with older parts.
If you happen to walk around the church and the castle, have a closer look at the school behind the church, in particular at the porch. The roof is supported by two wooden beams which are ornated with woodcarvings. They show two funny figures, the teacher and the naughty boy.
The boy is stealing apples from a tree, feasting on his prey. The teacher is threatening him, finger uplifted in that typical teacher gesture and stick in hand.
Is it meant as a warning to the children who enter the school? On the other hand, look at the boy's grinning face... the teacher may shout at him but he is too far away to actually reach and hit him.
The building is dated 1905 on the gable. The figures are most probably from the same time.
The house by the southern gate at the foot of the hill used to be the house of the executioner. Since his was a 'dishonest' profession he had to live on the edge of the town. The date above the door says 1615; from then on until 1806 (when Gochsheim became property of the Grandduchy of Baden) the house was inhabited by executioners and their families.
The big mural on the facade is a younger acquisiton. That guy looks rather grim, doesn't he?
The hilly landscape of the Kraichgau offers lots of options for easy hikes. Bike tours can also be done but due to the ups and downs of the hills biking is more strenuous than walking.
Forests are rare and small. Most of the landscape consists of open fields and orchards. This means lots of wide views from the hills over to the Rhine plain and the larger hills of Stromberg and Heuberg.
The open landscape means hardly any shade. Hiking here is not recommended on hot summer days. The Kraichgau hills are most enjoyable in spring when the fruit trees and the canola fields are in bloom, and in autumn with fall colours and ripe fruit.
Three S-Bahn lines run through the Kraichgau: the S 31 and S 32 from Karlsruhe/Bruchsal, they split up in Ubstadt-Weiher, one proceeds to Menzingen via Gochsheim, the other to Odenheim. The third is the S 4 via Bretten to Eppingen and Heilbronn. Hiking routes can easily be planned between S-Bahn stops and lines. www.kvv.de%L has the details about the public transport network.
Equipment: Comfy shoes. No need for ankle-high hiking boots, any comfortable trekking sandal or walking shoe will do.
The only danger: ticks in the grass. This region is a high-risk area for FSME and Lyme infections. If you plan to leave the paths, tuck your pants into your socks and check regularly. On light-coloured uni pants a crawling tick is easiest to spot.