Kulmbach/Upper Franconia: view of the old quarter and Plassenburg Castle
Kulmbach/Upper Franconia: view of the old quarter and Plassenburg Castle

Franconian gemütlichkeit and great food and drink: Kulmbach

Kulmbach is a quintessential town in Franconia, one of the friendliest parts of Germany. Famous for its beer, bread and bratwurst sausages, this beautiful historical destination has a welcoming and laid-back charm. It's easy to get to Kulmbach, but not so easy to leave – such is the appeal of this delightful little town.

The first glimpse of mighty Plassenburg Castle is a sign that you're nearing Kulmbach. Built in the 12th century by the Dukes of Andechs-Merania, the castle has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries. It was used as a prison in the 18th and 19th centuries, but was restored in the 20th century and has since served a more pleasant purpose. Today it is home to several museums and the world's largest collection of tin figures.

Hustle and bustle at the market square and bathhouse

Kulmbach's market square has been a place of lively activity since the 13th century. Nowadays it is no longer merchants and craftsmen that occupy the space around the Luitpoldbrunnen fountain, but rather cafés, beer gardens and shops. Twice a week there is also a farmers' market here. Surveying the marketplace with its uninterrupted succession of beautiful buildings, it's easy to see why it provides the backdrop for town festivals and the Kulmbach Christmas market . Close by is the old bathhouse, which was first documented in 1398 and still served its original purpose until the 19th century. The building was later acquired by the town and reopened as a museum and gallery in 1999 after extensive renovation. Its use through the centuries has been well documented: it is one of only eight bathhouses that has been thoroughly researched and restored in the whole of Germany.

Beer and bread: the way to a Franconian's heart

Although Franconia is a wine-growing region, there is little evidence of this in Kulmbach – beer is the drink of choice among the locals. The town's Bavarian Brewery Museum documents the art of beer-making in Bavaria and Franconia with a particular focus on Upper Franconia and Kulmbach. It's a magical place for anyone with a fondness for German beer. The exhibition includes historical machinery and interactive exhibits, all kinds of beer bottles, labels, beer mats and posters, plus signs made out of metal, enamel and glass. Even grown men will glow with childlike excitement! The highlight of the visit is the museum brewery with its glass brewing kettles and gleaming copper surfaces. After the tour, a freshly pulled beer will be waiting and visitors can prove their credentials in the beer connoisseurs' test. The Bavarian Bakery Museum offers an experience along the same lines: 1,500 square metres dedicated to the art of baking, plus the opportunity to sample a delicious piece of bread from the museum bakery at the end of your tour. As you'll see when you visit, good food and drink have always been an important part of life in Kulmbach.

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