Behind the Protestant Town Church is the Fortress, a newer version of the old fortress that was designed to protect the western parts of the town. Interestingly, the fortress was built outside the city walls rather than inside the walls back in 1266. Some of the oldest parts of the current fortress date back to the Gothic period, but much of what visitors see today dates to the 16th-17th centuries. There are a number of stone buildings, including a very large Amtshaus (administrative building). The pretty little half-timbered tower in the courtyard looks older than it is; it was built in 1859.
At the opposite end of the Fortress from the entrance near the church, there is a gate leading to the Cent which was built in 1612. On the grounds of the Fortress are several half-timbered buildings, some statues, and the town fountain.
Out in the water next to the stepping stones is a statue of a little naked boy with one sock on his foot. Strolch means “rascal” in German and this little boy represents a German folk song that goes “In Lauterbach I lost my stocking.” The marker next to the statue tells part of this song (in German).
This particular little figure is the trademark for the Strolch Camembert cheese that is produced by the town. There is a larger plexiglass figure of this little Strolch figure in the lower level of the Tourist Information Office, where he is holding the cheese in one hand and his little carrycase has two rounds of cheese in it.
We were able to find the cheese in one of the local grocery stores – after seeing this little guy a couple times in Lauterbach we had to try the cheese. We found it to be better than the French Camembert, which we don’t care for – the Lauterbach Camembert is firmer and doesn’t smell as bad; I like the taste much better as well.
There is a place along the Lauter not far from the Ankerturm where you can cross the waters by using a series of stepping stones. The stone wall on either side of the river has an opening and steps leading down to these stepping stones. The stones are close enough that a young child could do this with some assistance from an ever watchful adult since the stones are near a small falls.
According to the Tourist Information Office, the town of Lauterbach paid for new stepping stones back in 1596, which gives reason to believe that these stepping stones (or ones just like them) have been around for a very long time.
On the days before we went to Lauterbach we had received a good bit of rain so the water was too high and flowing much too fast for any possible crossing of the stepping stones. We saw photos of days when the water was lower and it looks like a fun thing to do.
Just off the Marktplatz is an alley that leads down some steps and through a portal constructed from a very thick stone wall. This wall is actually the only remaining part of the original medieval town wall. They are wide and long steps, easy to walk up or down and the part of the wall spans between the buildings on either side of the steps.
Next to the portal is a tall stone tower called the Ankerturm (Anchor Tower), which used to be part of the Anchor Inn, “Zum Anker.” The top story of the tower was a later addition (19th century) and allowed guests to stay in the room for a superb view of Lauterbach.
In this area of Lauterbach, there are many half-timbered houses that span the length of the river.
Who is Adolf Spiess? He is the father of gymnastics in Germany, introducing the activity to schools and for girls as well as training teachers in physical education. He was born in Lauterbach and was the vice principal of the town’s Latin school, which is located next door to the house where Spiess was born.
The current house in Lauterbach behind the Protestant church is actually a duplicate of Spiess’ birthplace; the original one, built around 1500, was torn down in 1913. Today it is a private residence so you cannot tour the house.
The centrally located Tourist Information Office was extremely helpful and informative. We stopped in for a map and found a wealth of other information along with a knowledgeable staff (they spoke English, too!). We got our map and purchased a small booklet in English that provided us with a walking tour of Lauterbach (€1).
In the lower level of the TI Office were some interesting mill artifacts. Unfortunately, most of this was in German. I picked up one of the many papers that explained about the large Schlagmühle and its functions to translate once I got home. On the walls were some old photos of the many mills in the area. The lower level also contains toilets for visitors to the TI.
The TI is housed in former Town Mill which used to be known as the Brick Mill. It dates back to 1398 and the current building has 1628 over the door.
The TI Office is open Monday – Friday 0900-1300 and 1400-1700/Saturdays 1100-1300 from April to October. From November to March, the TI is open Monday through Friday 1000-1300 and 1400-1600, closed Saturdays and Sundays.
We go into a lot of small village churches and typically many look alike. I enjoy one that stands out or has something unique inside. Lauterbach’s Protestant town church captured my attention when we first walked in. First of all, it was pink and white – very clean looking with a soft glow about it. The white rococo stucco on the pink walls and ceiling were plain – in keeping with the Protestant ideals, no murals or statues of saints.
At the front of the church was an altar screen made of stucco marble with two side columns and rococo decorations. The pulpit was in the middle of the screen, high above the altar which stood in front of the screen. We were here over Christmas week so the front was still decorated with Christmas trees and a small nativity.
Around the sides of the church was what I found most interesting – a double gallery, giving three levels for worshippers to sit. And at each end closest to the pulpit were loges – what appeared to be enclosed rooms for parishioners to sit, with windows to open or close as needed (not sure how it acceptable it would be to close your window during the sermon). These were the first loges I’ve seen in all the churches I’ve been in – something new and unique.
Along the bottom walls are funerary monuments of former barons of the town (Barons Riedesel) dating back to the Gothic church that stood here before the Protestant church was built.
Chateau Hohhaus is the only city palace that once belonged to General George Frederik Riedesel Free Lord of Eisenbach and was built between 1769 and 1773 by George Veit Koch. This baroque palace is a three-winged building, surrounded by a marshall courtyard. In the Roccoco Hall, the town stages events, among other events the regionally well-known Hohhaus concerts. The Hohhaus, whose name means "Hofhaus" or "royal stewart house", used to be a royal administration building, which belonged to a neighbouring principality. Today they have a small museum in the side building to this chateau, which contain among other items, a late Gothic Maria Alter that was made in Lauterbach, which is one of Hesse's sacral masterpiece works. They also have some pretty astounding antique furniture pieces, including the the carved entry hall from 1777, the old town fathers meeting table from 1664 and a city file cabinet from the 17th century, and a speech podium for the mayor from 1743. They also have a lot of Hessian farm stuff to see in the musuem, including costumes the people used to wear, and several displays of how people used to make all kinds of things by hand.
Open from Tuesday - Sunday from: 10.00 - 12.00 and 14.00 - 17.00
This is the longest half-timbered house in the state of Hesse. You can find it around the corner from the town castle. The house bears the name "Güldenen Esel" or the Golden Ass House.
This complex half-timbered house used to be a horse-changing station for coaches moving through the Holy Roman Empire and an inn, which is why it's so long (remember this town is crossroads for 3 major historical roads). It was originally built in 1530 along the town walls. They used to brew their own beer here, which ticked of the mayor, who already had a brewery inside the town, and what really miffed him was that it was outside the city walls, so he couldn't charge taxes - yup, free enterprise through the centuries. Later this house was used for the Cent Court. That had nothing to do with making money, but was the old name for "parish". From 1821 the "Golden Ass House" was a post office and a horse changing station again. The city finally bought this house in 1862, where they turned it into a grammer school. Today it houses a music school and the Hohhaus Library, which contains more than 80,000 books. Next to this special library they also have a public library.
This statue is dedicated to this old folks song:
I lost my sock in Lauterbach,
Without it I can't go home.
So I'm gitting m'self back to Lauterbach,
To git my sock back again.
I lost my heart in Lauterbach,
Without it I can't live on;
So I'm gitting m'self back to Lauterbach,
That gal's got give it back to me.
Daddy, when are you going to give that piece of valley,
Daddy, when are you going to will me something?
My gal's getting riper than the wheat,
I don't wanna be single no more.
My gal's got black-brown eyes,
She's purdy as a dove, she is,
When I stand by the window and look at her,
She looks back friendly at me.
You all can't be happy all the time,
You all can't be crying all the time.
Sometimes I git to go out with my girl,
Sometimes I gotta stay home alone.
Now I have built me a house on top of a snail,
But that snail's a sneaking off.
And now my gal's pouting at me,
'Cause I ain't got no house no more.
The old mill is one of the oldest buildings in Lauterbach, and serves as a souvenier store today, where you can buy a minature of the Lauterbach Little Rascal. Traditional Lauterbach pottery is made and sold here too. Earlier in Hesse, every town had it's own pottery pattern, which were almost forgotten after the Second World War. If it wasn't for some villagers that take pride in their traditions. You don't have to worry about kitschiness of buying something like this, because even the people of Lauterbach have this kind of pottery in their homes, too.
The house was built as a mill in 1398 and known as the Town Mill. Today it is now known as the "Töpferhaus" or pottery house.