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Bertha Benz Memorial Route – Memorial to the world's first female car driver

The Bertha Benz Memorial Route commemorates a heroine from a time when driving was still an adventure. Authentic and well-signposted, this 194 km route runs from Mannheim through Heidelberg to Pforzheim: a beautiful region for wine connoisseurs and gourmets alike, which is home to a wealth of attractions.

Carl and Bertha Benz – pioneers of automobile history. Bertha Benz was the first long-distance driver in a Patent Motor Car: the woman who brought us closer to the car and who proved that Carl Benz could never have done it alone. In August 1888 she drove this vehicle accompanied by her sons, Eugen and Richard, and without her husband's knowledge, from Mannheim through Heidelberg to Pforzheim.

A bumpy ride

At this time, a comfortable, fully air-conditioned vehicle and well-constructed motorway would have been out of the question! Instead the journey would have unfolded along bumpy, dusty, well-worn "streets" in a three-wheeled open vehicle with leather-covered bench seating.

The first fuel station in the world

Bertha also demonstrated her significant technical capabilities on this journey: once the tank was empty, she visited a chemist in Wiesloch and bought its last three litres of ligroin, a substance usually used as a cleaning agent. From the beginning of the age of motorisation right up to the 10th century, petrol and other fuels could only be bought from chemists and so this is how the chemist in Wiesloch became the first fuel station in the world. Water and oil needed to be topped up constantly; the drive chain also broke and was repaired by a smith in Bruchsal, who also covered the brake pads with leather. A little later, Bertha cleaned a blocked fuel line with her hat pin and used her garter as isolation material.

The first long-distance drive in history

The car travelled at a speed of between 15 and 18 km/h; however while travelling in the foothills of the Black Forest, her sons did once have to give it a push! By taking this journey, Bertha Benz was able to prove the vehicle's capabilities, helping her husband to reach a breakthrough in its design. Today there are almost one million drivers worldwide. Now every enthusiastic driver can follow the journey made in 1888 by Bertha Benz, the first long-distance drive in human history.

Bertha Benz Memorial Route

Length: approximately 194 km

Theme: Bertha Benz – the first long-distance car ride

Bretten: Melanchthon's House (Melanchthon-Haus)
Bruchsal: Baroque palace
Grötzingen/Karlsruhe: Birthplace of Dr C. Benz, castle
Heidelberg: old quarter, castle
Hockenheim: the Hockenheimring racing circuit and museum
Ladenburg: Dr Carl Benz Museum, the Carl Benz House (Familie Benz Haus)
Mannheim: castle, Technoseum, water tower
Pforzheim: Gold City/Jewellery City, jewellery museum, wildlife park
Schriesheim: Strahlenburg Castle
Schwetzingen: palace
Wiesloch: first fuel station (the old chemist), renowned vineyard guesthouses
Events: Bertha Benz Challenge