A visit to Michelstadt would not be complete without visiting their castle and Basilica. You can take a 10-15 walk from the Rathaus or you can jump in your car and drive there. If you trained to the town it is less than a 5 minute walk.
Furstenau Castle is privately owned but they allow you to walk around the courtyard and there is a path you can take to view the exterior. I'm told there is a small museum but I didn't see it during my visit. Take a look at the huge arch which was added in 1588 and the way they put in the stairway (the windows are at an angle). Once you are done wondering around the courtyard take a walk around the outside of the structure. You can see what I think is the old toilet that empties right in the moat (it is more of a drainage ditch but water was running through it the day I visited).
As you walk around the area notice all the interesting modern art sculptures. Not sure how they fit is with a 500 year-old building but I'm not an art critic.
Near the castle is the Basilica which was built in the 9th century (according to my guide book). There is a small admission fee to get onto the grounds and they do take a short window holiday and close the place. Of course, with my luck I tried to visit during this time.
If you love to take pictures (like my wife) take some time and visit the town. There are a number of great buildings you can photograph. You might want to pick a better day than the one I choose (light rain and windy).
Rathaus - According to my guide books this is one of most photographed buildings in Germany. You really do have to see it to believe how neat it is and why everyone likes to have their picture taken in front of it. It is what people picture when they think of Germany. The ground floor is open and it is supported by huge beams. The extremely steep roof and oriel windows (bay windows that don't reach the ground - I had to look it up) make it a very unusual Rathaus.
Stadtkirche - This church was started in 1461 and I've read that there are some beautiful old tombs inside. I'll have to take their word on this since both times I've visited the town the church has been locked tight.
Thieves Tower (Diebesturm) and dry moat - I guess this is where they locked up the thieves?
There is also a Toy Museum and the Odenwald Museum. Almost every town seems to have some type of museum. If you skip these you won't be missing a lot. If it is raining out I highly recommend them.
Nearby the Schloss is the Basilica, which was built in the 9th century by a friend of Charlemagne (Einhard, who the Basilica is named after). It has been restored and is open to visitors year-round (closed Mondays). There is a small fee for admission.
There is nearby free parking or it is a short walk from the train station.
Our tour book mentioned a lovely old watermill leading to this 13th century castle located near the train station. Currently a private residence so you can’t go into the Schloss, you can walk around the outside of the building and walled area. It appeared to be in desperate need of some love and attention, but we got the idea of the former grandeur of the place.
Of interesting note, there were quite a few modern art sculptures on the grounds surrounding the Schloss. There were no signs about them so I am at a loss as to their significance.
If you are visiting the Schloss, be sure to stop by Einhard’s Basilica, just down the road (follow the signs).
There is free parking near the Schloss or it is a short walk from the train station.
The Rathaus or Town Hall is a very unique looking building. In the town market, you can easily spot the building with its massive oak supporting beams that leave a gathering space underneath of the building. It makes a pretty picture surrounded by the half-timbered buildings around the market square.
The tourist office is nearby the Rathaus, as is the town fountain that dates back to 1575. There are shops and cafes that allow you to stay in the market square all afternoon if you feel the need.
You can walk past this tower through the gate to the dry moat, which will bring you to a little green space behind the town walls. There are steps leading up to the tower and a little fox-monk statue that stands guard below.
We walked through the park area and reentered the town through the wall a little farther down next to the Odenwald Museum and Toy Museum.
This was a neat little museum tucked away in Michelstadt in the Burghof. It was inexpensive and there was quite a lot to see. Besides old toys from the children of Michelstadt through the centuries, the museum offered a lot of history on the Odenwald itself.
Located on three stories, we saw models of houses as well as a portion of the wall cross sectioned to see how the half-timbered buildings were made. There was the town executioner’s sword on display and lots of books. A large number of amber pieces were also on display.
We spent about an hour going through both museums and we enjoyed ourselves a good bit.
There are other pictures of the stunning town hall, from this very angle on VT, but i thought I would add my own, taken during the Easter decorations.
Note the bunnies in front of the hall, sitting in front of the wooden animals...
... my wife is going to kill me.
I've no idea who the two older ladies in the foreground were. And the strange vehicle behind them is a pedal-powered car for rent.
Michelstadt has some of the most beautiful half-timbered buildings I have seen (even coming from Cheshire, where this architecture is king). Clustered in the streets around the old town square, the age, colours and levels of restoration are simply excellent.
Possibly to prevent horses spoiling the pristine streets of Michelstadt, the carriages are drawn by cyclists.
The cyclists seemed to be having enough trouble pulling these children. They would have had no chance with me....
The Easter Egg Market is held in the Sportshall, oustside of the historic centre, just before Easter. The displays of hand-painted, fillagreed, bejewelled and simply boiled eggs is amazing.
There are works of art, decorations for sale, and (for my wife the most important) chocolate.
The hall itself is unexciting, unlike the town centre, which is spectacular.
In the streets around the old town hall the Christmas Fair takes place. This year from 29 November - 22 December 2002. The market is open till 8 p.m except Monday and Thuesday. In the streets are many small stalls which are nicely decorated.
Small but fine! You can see different ancient toys. Amazing!
1 March - 31 October:
Tuesday - Friday 10am - 12am, 2 pm-5pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11am - 5.30 pm
1 November - End of February
Friday - Sunday and on bank holiday: 11 am - 6 pm
This is a wonderful local history and toy museum that is well worth a visit. Part of the regional attractions also include local ivory artwork. Just down the road you will also find another museum dedicated entirely to ivory.
The centre of Michelstadt's remarkable architecture. Surrounded by beautiful half-timbered buildings, including the stunning town hall