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The inner courtyard in the ruins of Rechberg Castle

Hohenstaufen Route – On the move on the medieval world stage

Welcome to the Hohenstaufen Route, a signposted, accessible route of approximately 340 km between Filz and the Rems tributary river, the Schurwald wood and Kalte Feld (the Cold Field), a rocky outcrop on a high plateau in the foothills of the Swabian Alb. The birthplace of the Hohenstaufen, one of the most significant and influential dynasties of the Middle Ages, lies between the towns of Schwäbisch Gmünd, Göppingen and Heidenheim.

Thank goodness for the Hohenstaufen Route, which tells the fascinating story of the Hohenstaufen, the most powerful dynasty of the High Middle Ages, and leads visitors in their footsteps through the legendary Stauferland and its distinctive Drei Kaiserberge (the Three Emperor Mountains): the Hohenstaufen, Rechberg and Stuife. The impact of this trio on the landscape of the Hohenstaufen dynasty's heartland is visible for miles around.

It all started in Stauferland

The Hohenstaufen were a dynasty of dukes, kings and emperors that intermittently ruled over half of Europe, and it was Frederick I von Hohenstaufen, who received a knighthood for accompanying the Emperor Henry IV to Canossa, who first brought the Hohenstaufen into the limelight in 1076/77. Two members of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in particular made their mark on the period between 1150 and 1250: Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and his grandson, Frederick II.

The Hohenstaufen erected memorials too

As one of the most powerful ruling dynasties in Europe, the Hohenstaufen already knew over 800 years ago where the best of life was to be found. Today the image of Hohenstaufen Castle (684 m) still evokes tales of its glamorous past as the ancestral seat of the dynasty and even Emperor Frederick I resided within its once powerful walls for a time. Another Hohenstaufen castle, the Wäscherschloss, is almost completely intact and can be found in the town of Wäschenbeuren. The romantic Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch, the burial place of the Hohenstaufen dynasty and a long-time spiritual centre, features an exquisitely coloured painting which depicts 200 years of Hohenstaufen history over its 30 m length and 4.5 m height.

A place where even emperors and kings felt at home

The Hohenstaufen Route runs through one of the most beautiful stretches of land in the east of the Swabian Alb: the legendary Wental valley, the bizarre Eselsburg valley and the Steinheim crater (Steinheimer Becken) which was formed by a massive meteor strike. Romantic churches and abbeys, bizarre caves and rock formations, palaces and the defiant ruins of Hohenstaufen castles blending harmoniously into the unique landscape, are just some of the sights waiting to be discovered along this route. And that's not all: visitors can also discover old towns such as Schwäbisch Gmünd or Bad Wimpfen, which became wealthy under the Hohenstaufen.

Hohenstaufen Route

Length: approximately 340 km

Theme: the Hohenstaufen, history, culture

Adelberg: Abbey
Bad Boll: collegiate church (Stiftskirche)
Dischingen: Katzenstein Castle
Giengen: Charlotte Cave (Charlottenhöhle), the Steiff Museum
Göppingen: Hohenstaufen Castle (ruins), museum
Hohenstaufen: the Barbarossa Church (Barbarossakirche), Hohenstaufen ancestral castle, documentary centre
Lauterstein: Weissenstein Castle (ruins)
Lorsch: abbey
Oberstotzingen: manor house (Rittergut), castle
Schwäbisch-Gmünd: Hohenstaufer city
Wäschebeuren: Wäscherschloss Castle