The Franconian Mountains Trail runs through four popular walking regions in Franconia – the Franconian Forest nature reserve, the Fichtelgebirge mountains, 'Franconian Switzerland' and the uplands of the Franconian Alb.
In Untereichenstein, on the border between Bavaria and Thuringia, lies the start of the Franconian Mountains Trail, which weaves its way through four distinct landscapes between Nuremberg and the Czech Republic. The first walk is through the land of 'blue gold' in the Franconian Forest nature park. This 'blue gold' refers to the coloured slate of the Franconian Forest, which to this day covers many a roof and wall in the towns and villages of the region. Wayside monuments to Cold War history feature in the parts of the trail which run right along the former 'death strip' between East and West Germany. On the descent into the Selbitz river valley, the Upper Fichtelgebirge mountains appear for the first time on the horizon. The trail then runs through the land of 'white gold'. White gold does not describe the terrain or geology of the Fichtelgebirge mountains, but instead makes reference to porcelain. This has been made here in prestigious manufactories since the discovery of porcelain clay deposits in the early 19th century. It's then up and over the highest peak in Franconia to Bayreuth, venue of the famous Richard Wagner festival. The most impressive part of the Fichtelgebirge nature park is the mountain ridge in the south. Walkers snake their way through these bizarre rocky landscapes, which resemble labyrinths for mythical giants. The last stage of the trail runs through 'Franconian Switzerland' into the Franconian Alb, two landscapes characterised by towering limestone rocks and dripstone caves.
Bayreuth: Margravial Opera House
The biggest and most beautiful baroque theatre that survives in Europe today, Bayreuth's Margravial Opera House has been put forward by the German government as a potential UNESCO World Heritage site. It was built for Margravine Wilhelmine by Giuseppe Galli Bibiena and his son Carlo, from the famous family of theatre designers.
At a glance