From Cinderella to The Frog Prince, almost everyone is familiar with the mystical fairy tales that have inspired generations of children. The men behind many of these fables were the Brothers Grimm, who published their famous collection in the early 19th century. It might surprise you to learn that many of these fantastic fables are actually inspired by folktales from real-life locations that you can still visit today.
The brothers travelled straight through the German heartland on their quest to gather the most fascinating material for their book, and their path is recreated by the German Fairy Tale Route, a 600 km trail that will show you the true inspiration behind the tales. Read on to find out what sights you should visit along its course.
Birthplace of legends
The town of Hanau was the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm, and so the natural start of the trail. The charming main square is home to a statue of the brothers, but the real beauty of the area can be found along the banks of the river Main. The river holds many secret marvels, such as the romantic palace Schloss Philippsruhe and historic Miltenberg. It is easy to see how this enchanting region inspired the brothers in their early years.
The best way to explore the area is by river cruise, as this allows you to take in the sights and sounds at a leisurely pace — and from a different perspective. The River Cruise Line offer a Medieval Towns of Bavaria & the Rhine Valley cruise, which takes a 12-day trip along the Main, as well as wonderful stretches of the Danube and the Rhine.
Spend the night in the real Sleeping Beauty’s castle
Famed for its imposing presence and walls of wild thorns, the castle of Sleeping Beauty has captured the imagination of many. The inspiration for the tale originates from the castle of Sababurg, where many of the qualities that inspired the Brothers Grimm, like the thick clusters of rose bushes, are still visible today.
The castle is also a hotel, offering visitors a unique opportunity to experience life in true a fairy tale location. If you want to see the roses in full bloom, book for the summer. The castle’s website is in German, but you can email the hotel with booking enquiries.
Visit Hameln, home of the Pied Piper
Don’t worry: the rats are long gone, but the town of Hameln remains a captivating visit and is drenched in fairy tale atmosphere. The township’s magnificent timber-framed and sandstone buildings play host to winding lanes dotted with charming cafés and inns, and the only rats to be seen are the ones painted on the pavement showing the way to the many tourist attractions. The Pied Piper House contains a quaint museum of the tale, while the Wedding house commemorates the story with its ornate clockwork display. Visit the town’s tourism website for information on what to see and where to stay.
Visiting Grimm-country can be a wonderful experience, and if you take our advice and visit the best of these attractions, you can experience a fairy-tale trip of your own.\