A warm climate and sunny skies make this charming town along the famed Bergstrasse a must-see locale.
By Alevtina Altenhof
Have you ever heard of the German Bergstrasse? While the rest of Germany is still covered in a blanket of snow and cold humid air makes your fingertips freeze, this very special region in Germany begins its transformation into a splendid carpet of blossoms beginning with pink almond trees and followed by apricot, peach, and cherry trees towards the middle of March. This region and the route that passes through it is called the “street of mountains”, stretching between hills set in marvellous countryside with lush vegetation. During the warmer seasons of the year, the Bergstrasse is foremost a winegrowing region for the famous German Riesling. The average air temperature here is 10°C (50°F) — with the spring arriving early, the fall starting late, and the sun shining abundantly for up to 1,300 hours per year. The region enjoys the most favorable weather conditions in the country. Back in Medieval times, the Romans called it “strata Montana” and used the road mainly for trade and military purposes. Nowadays, the German “street of mountains”— though no longer used as such—is, aside from being popular as a place of vine cultivation, also an extremely popular travel destination which is well worth discovering.
Another synonym used in Germany for the Bergstrasse is Ferienstrasse, which in English means the “street of holidays”. Starting at the hunting castle Kranichstein near Darmstadt and ending at the foot of Heidelberg Castle, the route connects 23 absolutely fascinating places, each offering several enticing sights or points of attraction. From a bird’s eye view, the route looks like a stony ribbon winding along the forested hills dotted with numerous imposing castles, ancient monasteries and memorials, and calls to mind a time when they were still inhabited by knights and kings. A fascinating landscape akin to a scene from a historical film, it creates a nostalgic mood in anyone who is eager to combine a holiday with a chance to acquire some additional knowledge about the history of the region.
The comparatively small, but absolutely idyllic town of Bensheim with some 40,000 inhabitants is one of those charming destinations along the Bergstrasse. A leisurely stroll through the pedestrian precinct in the town center will take you past numerous historical manor houses and churches and attracts the attention of the camera-clicking visitors. An ensemble of the old timber-framed buildings adorning the colorful market square is a lovely embellishment to Bensheim. Most of the timber-framed houses were built in the 1600s and are a part of the interesting and varied town history. The houses at Market Square 16-18, 21, and 22 are worthy of note. A relatively slender house, number 21, with a wooden figure on the roof depicting the Franciscan preacher St. Anthony of Padua with a Christ Child, was built in Renaissance style by a wealthy nobleman, Werner Duchscherer. One day in 1891, the property was purchased by a shoemaker, Christoph Mitterie, who soon established his business here.
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