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Ettlingen has preserved the charm of its historical centre in spite of rehabilitation measures in the 1970s that have destroyed quite a number of old buildings. What is left, however, is well taken care of. The major monuments and preserved houses are mostly baroque. Etllingen is small, so everything can easily be reached on foot . There are many romantic spots in the narrow lanes, along the river and in the squares to discover, and many outdoor cafes for a rest.
The old town extends on both banks of Alb river. The town hall occupies the central point by the river and the main bridge, overlooking the wide market square. The western part extends to the palace and its gardens. The tram line now cuts off the newer quarters further west from the centre. This area is quite busy with many small shops and a of old and new buildings. The market square is connected with the palace through a series of small squares.



Schloss Ettlingen, a palace that belonged to the Margraves of Baden-Baden, contains parts of a medieval castle. Three rectangular wings were built in the 16th and early 7th century. In the war of 1689 the French troups burnt down the town and the palace. The widowed Margravine Sibylla Augusta had the palace restored and enlarged, she lived here from 1728-1733. In these years the Eastern wing was added. Its facade towards the courtyard shows elaborate baroque architecture and ornaments - but it is all fake. The columns and rocailles are all just painted. Even some windows are fake.
In summer the courtyard hosts the Ettlinger Schlossfestspiele, an open-air festival of theater and concerts.
The Albgaumuseum occupies the Southern and Western wing of the palace. It shows regional history, art by regional painters, a collection of oriental treasures, temporary exhibitions, and the former apartment of the Margravine. Unfortunately all the furniture was taken away in the 19th century, and there isn't much left of the original decoration either. (If you want to see the rooms of a baroque palace, better go to nearby Rastatt instead).


Schlossgartenhalle, located next to the palace, is a modern hall for concerts, events and conventions. The building itself is of little interest to visitors but its roof garden is worth a look. Stairways lead up on the corners. The little garden on top is at the height of the roofs of the surrounding houses. You'll have a different view of the palace, the streets, into people's windows and backyards.



The so-called Narrenbrunnen (Jester Fountain) outside the palace is dated 1549. The statue on top shows a jester in the uniform of a lansquenet. The relief portrait on one side of the pillar depicts Hans von Singen, the court jester of Margrave Philipp I.
The role of a court jester meant more than just making fun. The jester was the only one who was allowed to tell the prince even unpleasant truths, as long as he did so in a witty way. According to late medieval theology, the figure of the jester symbolized a godless, worldly life. The mirror became his attribute, as he is someone who looks only at his own reflection instead of god. Thus he became the one who showed the prince the mirror, reflected the prince's good and bad doings. That way he reminded the prince of his own mortality. The inscription at the sculpture's back recalls this warning:
(Don't despise me, remember, the world's wisdom and glamour is considered foolishness in front of God)

If you want a rest among trees and flowers, stop next-door at Rosengarten. The little park was planted in 1998 in the grounds of the former palace gardens. In the summer season it is full of blooming roses. Benches invite to sit down and relax. Best with an icecream, which can be obtained nearby at the icecream parlour opposite the palace next to the jester fountain...



The catholic parish church of St. Martin is mostly a baroque building, the romanesque tower and the gothic choir derive from the medieval predecessor.
The baroque nave contains a surprise: The vaulted ceiling is covered with colourful modern frescoes by Emil Wachter, painted in 1987: Wachter is a renowned artist and has done many church interiors in Baden-Württemberg. He translated the baroque principles of ceiling frescoes into modern style. He tells biblical stories with contemporary elements, like the Prodigal Son leaving home on a motorbike.
The church is usually open in the daytime and can be entered from the southern side door.



Ettlingen's town hall was built in 1737 with some changes in the 19th century. The baroque facades face the market square and the river. The adjacent tower, which is much older, serves as town gate from the bridge across the Alb. In market square a beautiful renaissance fountain is preserved.

The narrow pedestrians' gateway through the town hall's tower has a remarkable memorial to the victims of World War I. The names of Ettlingen's World War I casualties inscribed on its walls. From the outward side of the gate a soldier points into the passage: „Hie habt Ehrfurcht vor den Toten“ (Here have reverence for the dead) - this is a reference to the medieval monk sign pointing to the hospital (see separate tip). Towards the market square, a dramatic relief (Oskar Alexander Kiefer 1927) shows Death on horseback. While Death is swaying the fiery scythe above the soldiers, the Titans are fighting underground.



The so-called Neptunstein is a relic of Ettlingen's distant past. The relief, dated to the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., depicts the ancient Roman god Neptun, to whom the stone was dedicated by the guild of the Alb rafters. The white stone below contains a Latin inscription by the reformator Caspar Hedio written in 1554 which tells the history of the stone of Neptun and the foundation of the town. This stone here, however, is a 16th century copy. The original can be admired in the Badisches Landesmuseum at Karlsruhe.


A statue of St Nepomuk guards the bridge behind the town hall, as it is common in catholic areas. Ettlingen belonged to the Margraviate of Baden-Baden, the catholic part of Baden’s territory. The town owes several baroque buildings, including the town hall, the facade of the main church, and parts of the palace, to Margravine Sibylla Augusta who resided in Ettlingen during her widow years.


Discover the romantic spots along the river that runs through the town. The street next to the river's northern bank is like a promenade walk. Not very long, admittedly, but still pleasant. The bridges offer more views, especially in summer when they are ornated with blooming geraniums. Photogenic views can also be found from behind the church of St Martin.


The quarter beyond the river has preserved its historical structure with small winding lanes, some dead end. The side streets are quieter here.
The eyecatcher on this side of the old town is the mighty steeple of the neogothic Herz-Jesu-Kirche, the second catholic parish church in the town centre.

On the northern corner of the old town (corner Schillerstraße/Pforzheimer Straße), Ettlingen’s only piece of the old town wall is preserved, together with one single tower, which is named Lauerturm. You'll need some imagination for „romantic old-world feeling“, though, because these are major roads with heavy traffic.


I am concluding with some romantic impressions caught on a summer evening and sunset and then under the full moon...




Posted by Kathrin_E 02:16 Archived in Germany Tagged ettlingen Comments (1)

Bad Herrenalb and the Alb Valley



Ettlingen is the gateway to the Alb valley, the northernmost of the valleys that lead into the Black Forest from the Rhine plain. The river Alb has a total length of 51 kms. Its source is at an altitude of more than 700 metres. The stream runs through a rather narrow valley first. This upper part is really remote, it has neither roads nor settlements and can only be explored on foot or by (mountain)bike. Bad Herrenalb, the spa town, is the first settlement. From there downstream the valley widens. It becomes an important axis of traffic in northern to northwestern direction for the villages in the surroundings, both by road and commuter tram. At Ettlingen the river leaves the Black Forest hills and enters the Rhine plain. It then runs along the southwestern edge of Karlsruhe until it reaches the Rhine near the suburb of Knielingen.

The forests of the Northern Black Forest won‘t match the image that visitors have in their minds. It consists of mostly deciduous trees, firs and spruces are the minority, so it is not „black“. International tourists rarely make an appearance. For the inhabitants of the Karlsruhe agglomeration, though, it is a popular destination for day trips, hiking and biking. The whole lower part of the Alb valley up to Bad Herrenalb is well connected to Karlsruhe's tram network. The line S 1 runs from Bad Herrenalb via Ettlingen to Karlsruhe, passes both Karlsruhe central station and the city centre and continues to the northern suburbs. Important stops are „Marxzell“ for the car museum and the village, and „Frauenalb-Spielberg“ for the ruins of Frauenalb convent.

The historical border between Baden and Württemberg ran through the Alb valley between Bad Herrenalb and Frauenalb. It crosses Klosterpfad, the hiking trail between the two former convents, about halfway. The sentry box and explaining signs on the path to Frauenalb are a recent addition, I saw them for the first time today (February 2015). One side is painted red and bears the coat of arms of the 19th century Grand-Duchy of Baden, the other site is painted blue and sports the royal coat of arms of Württemberg.

Tram S 1, the Alb Valley Line

Tram stop next to Ettlingen palace
Up the valley we go!
Station hall in Bad Herrenalb
Station building

The whole lower part of the Alb valley up to Bad Herrenalb is well connected to Karlsruhe's tram network. The line S 1 runs from Bad Herrenalb via Ettlingen to Karlsruhe, passes both Karlsruhe central station and the city centre and continues to the northern suburbs. Important stops are „Marxzell“ for the car museum and the village, and „Frauenalb-Spielberg“ for the ruins of Frauenalb convent.
The dead-end railway line up the Alb valley is not used by Deutsche Bahn any more. It has been entirely taken over by Karlsruhe's tram network, so the yellow trams of the S 1 now do the whole passenger transport. Besides, on some summer weekends an old steam train does tourist rides up there.

When coming from Karlsruhe, check carefully because the S 1 runs every 10 minutes in the city, but not all of them do the whole way, every second one ends in Ettlingen. Two trams per hour (daytime hours on weekdays) continue to Bad Herrenalb, the interval is 20 and 40 minutes alternating. In between there is one S 11 per hour which takes a different route through Waldbronn and Karlsbad to Ittersbach. In the evening and on weekends there is one tram per hour. Have a look at the timetable before starting your trip to avoid long waiting periods (lesson learned the hard way). And don't confuse S 1 and S 11.

From the train station in Bad Herrenalb at the end of the line, several bus routes start that connect Bad Herrenalb with the villages further up in the mountains. There is also a line across the mountain ridge over to the Murg valley and on to Baden-Baden. The train station is not manned any more, tickets have to be obtained from ticket machines. The station building now hosts Bad Herrenalb's tourist information office.

Practical hints:
Fares: A single ticket from Karlsruhe to Bad Herrenalb or back (5 zones) is 4.80 € (spring 2017). Groups up to five people travel cheapest with the Regioplus ticket for 19,60 € which is valid for one calendar day of unlimited travel in the whole KVV area.
Website: www.kvv-efa.de

Hiking and Biking





The Alb valley has lots of options for easy to medium outdoor activities on foot and by bicycle. A network of marked hiking trails cover the whole Black Forest. From easy short walks to all-day hikes across the mountains, options are endless. The trails have little signposts at crossings, stating the destination and distance, and are marked with coloured symbols. You can start walking everywhere along the valley and select a short or long tour just as you like. Any path in the forest is a hiking trail that leads somewhere.

Traces of „Lothar“ are still visible, in particular on exposed ridges. Mentioning „Lothar“ in the Black Forest causes rather scary memories. „Lothar“ was the name of a gale that hit the Southwest of Germany and the Northwest of Switzerland with full force on Boxing Day 1999. The exposed heights of the Black Forest were heavily affected. The storm broke trees like matches and uprooted complete forests. The traces of destruction are still visible on the hilltops around Bad Herrenalb and elsewhere. „Lothar“ is a lesson to take global warming and climate changes seriously.

Thanks to Karlsruhe's extending tram network you can plan one-way hikes across the mountain chains to the adjacent valleys and return by public transport. The tram network allows one way hiking tours over the hills from one valley to the next. Arriving on the Alb valley tram S 1 you could either hike south to the Murg valley and take the S 8 or S 81 back, or north to Ittersbach or Langensteinbach and return on the S 11. The Murg valley line (S 8/S 81) connects to the Alb valley line (S 1) at Karlsruhe central station, the S 11 already in Waldbronn-Busenbach.

Hiking can be done throughout most of the year. In rainy periods and when the snow is melting the trails become muddy in some parts. In winter, snow is no hindrance, but if there is ice on the ground, take care. Having a detailed hiking map of the region is useful - these can be obtained from bookstores and from the tourist information. Comfortable walking shoes are essential. Ankle-high hiking boots are not absolutely necessary, the paths are generally easy to walk, but if you have them they won't be out of place. Depending on weather conditions, rain gear can be needed any season in these parts of the world. If you plan longer hikes, carry a drink and a snack.

For an easy bike tour, there is a bike trail along the whole valley. Bikes can be transported for free (on weekdays after 9 a.m., on weekends all day) on the trams, so you can take your bike up to Herrenalb and comfortably cycle back downhill along the river. Mountain bikers and hardcore cyclists will find roads and marked mountainbike trails up and down as many hills as they want.

Bad Herrenalb - Spa, Abbey Ruins, and Forests


Bad Herrenalb is a tiny spa town cuddling into the upper end of the Alb valley among hills and forests. Herrenalb’s history begins with the foundation of a Cistercian monastery in the 12th century. Later a settlement grew around the abbey. Only ruins are preserved. The place is a nice option for a day trip, some hiking, seeing the remnants of the two monasteries, a walk in the Kurpark, a coffee and cake and a visit to the spa. Being stuck there for a four-week health treatment, however, might become a bit boring after a while...

A Kurpark, a beautiful park with paths that are easy to walk, many benches, pretty trees and lawns and flowers, often fountains and a duck pond and sculptures, is an indispensable part of a spa town. All of them have one to provide an area to walk for their visitors, also for the sick and disabled among them. Bad Herrenalb is no exception. The Kurpark along the Alb river invites for walks and relaxation. The park has many beautiful big old trees of native and introduced specieses, planted as solitairs surrounded by wide lawns so they had space to grow into full splendour.
The fountain behind the Kurhaus must be a natural warm spring. Any artificial fountain would have long been turned off in wintery conditions with temperatures far below zero. The water is still springing and has formed an ice cone that looks like a little volcano.

The ice volcano
Water pavillon

Another indispensable institution in a spa town is the Kurhaus which contains the administration and therapeutic facilities and a cafe or restaurant, often also a ballroom, casino or similar - not sure about Bad Herrenalb in that respect. The Kurhaus in Bad Herrenalb is not big but the town is not big either... The backside of the building hosts a cafe with a big terrace facing the park. Sitting there with a coffee or tea must be an enjoyable pastime in summer.

The healing water from Bad Herrenalb's springs can be sampled for free. There is a fountain in the octogonal pavillon by the Kurhaus (open daily 11.00 - 18.00) where you can help yourself. Glasses are available for free but you can also bring your own glass, cup or bottle.
Important to know: „Saubere Gläser“ = clean glasses; „gebrauchte Gläser“ = used glasses. Grab one from the counter next to the first sign, and please return it after use to the second sign.
Recommended maximum consumption is 1 liter per day. Please don't ask me what the water is good for, or against... The taste is nothing unusual (not as bad as the waters of Baden-Baden).


The Cistercian monastery of Herrenalb was founded in the 12th century. Having been an independent imperial abbey in the middle ages, it became property of the Dukes of Württemberg before 1500. It was destroyed during the 30 year war. The part of the church that was still intact became the parish church of the village which developed round the site. The separated monastery area is still visible although the surrounding buildings are mostly younger. Of the abbey church, the choir is preserved (which was included in the new 18th century parish church) and also the ruins of the Romanesque vestibule, the so-called „paradise“. A statue of a monk has been put up in the grounds. He is a big hit for photos…


The site of the abbey church is now occupied by the protestant parish church which was built in 1739. It is much smaller than the original church. The gothic choir of the abbey church has been maintained and included in the new building. The interior of the nave has been redesigned in 1903. It got a vaulted, wood-panneled ceiling, ornamental frescoes, a new organ and new stained glass windows in the choir. Behind the altar there is a showcase with a model of the monastery as it used to be in its active times.
The medieval choir contains several tombs and epitaphs, among them the tomb of Margrave Bernhard I. of Baden, which fills the arcade between the choir and the left side chapel. It is dedicated to Margrave Bernhard I. of Baden who died in 1431 (date mentioned in the gothic inscription on the choir side of the tomb). He is depicted in full armour, accompanied by angels who hold his helmet and crest. The tomb is actually a kenotaph, i.e. a fake grave: It is and has always been empty - Bernhard was in reality buried in the collegiate church in Baden-Baden.
The monastery area can be visited any time for free. The church is open in the daytime hours.



Bad Herrenalb holds an artisans market in the grounds of the monastery every year on the Pentecost (Whitsunday) weekend. Artisans offer their products, there is a wide variety of pottery and jewellery and woodwork and hand-made paper and knitting and... If you are in the area that weekend, this is nice to look at, and maybe you'll find a special souvenir. I would not travel long distances only for this market, though. Entry is free (it's a market, after all) but the prices of the products are not cheap, as can be expected for individual hand-made items of quality craftwork.


The beautiful half-timbered house by the passage to the abbey grounds is a historical inn. A piece of 18th century pub wisdom can be found over the door. The Klosterschänke on the edge of the monastery area was built, according to the inscription above the door, in 1739, the same year as the protestant church. Note the text of the inscription, these are the wise words of an experienced innkeeper...
„Herein herein ihr lieben Gest / Wer Geld hat, ist der Allerbest.“ (Come in, come in, you dear guests / who has money is the very best)


A thermal spa is also a must. The one in Bad Herrenalb is named Siebentälertherme. It offers swimming in thermal water from a natural spring, sauna and steam baths, also treatments like massages, aqua healing, water gymnastics and similar. For several years there have been talks about an upcoming renovation of the spa. I am not sure how far they have proceeded in the meantime.
The indoor pools' temperature is 30 °C and 35 °C, the outdoor pool has 30 °C.
I have to admit that this is not the best spa I've ever been in. The pools have some massage jets but that's about it, none of the bubbly water toys one finds elsewhere. I have not used the sauna but found the pool area rather boring after a while. The average age of the visitors must be close to 70.
Advantage 1: it was quiet and uncrowded, lots of space for a relaxed swim and no queues to get one of the jets.
Advantage 2: even a 40-something fattie like me can feel young and beautiful in there, I had a pleasant chat with a charming pool attendant ;-)) I was by far the youngest among the females present (except the employees, that is).
Website: http://www.siebentaelertherme.de

Frauenalb Convent Ruins


Frauenalb used to be a convent of Benedictine nuns, founded in the late 12th century. Its history consists of a series of destructions and rebuildings. In 1598 the convent was closed down due to the all too worldly ways of life of the inmates. During the 30 year war it was reopened and a new convent established. Around 1700 the nuns first erected new convent buildings (1696-1704), then a magnificent baroque church (1727-1736).
The secularization of 1802/03 brought the final closedown. Church and convent buildings decayed afterwards. In the following years fires damaged the empty buildings, other parts were torn down to reuse the material for other building projects. The remaining ruin has become a remarkable landmark of the upper Alb valley. Open air (or better: open roof) concerts take place here in summer.
Visiting the ruins is free, they are accessible 24/7.

From the tram stop „Frauenalb/Spielberg“ it’s a walk of merely 3 minutes to the grounds of the convent. There is a good restaurant on the way, named „Landgasthof König von Preußen“, should you want to combine your visit with a hearty meal, or a coffee and snack.

Frauenalb is 5 kms from Bad Herrenalb, which is an easy hike along the valley along the so-called Klosterpfad - easiest downhill starting from the far end of the Kurpark, but uphill it is no big deal either because the ascent is very gentle. You can also include Frauenalb in longer hikes over the hills.


Posted by Kathrin_E 02:27 Archived in Germany Tagged ettlingen bad_herrenalb albvalley Comments (0)

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