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Visiting Herrenberg, Germany: A Charming 13th-Century Town

I live in Houston and love writing reviews of the local restaurants and stores I visit with family and friends.

Beautiful Herrenberg, Germany

Beautiful Herrenberg, Germany

Memories of Herrenberg, Germany

In this article, my goal is to show you parts of the quaint and historic town of Herrenberg. It is the home of a longtime and dear friend of mine. One year I spent some vacation time visiting her in her home country.

Herrenberg is located in the gorgeous southwestern portion of Germany, which includes scenic areas such as the Black Forest.

We spent some nights in her condo when I first arrived. We also took several trips going out in various directions to see some of the fascinating places in her home country, as well as our prearranged trip into Switzerland.

When we were back in Herrenberg, we got to see more of this 13th-century town center with the historic church and famous bell museum. It was so pleasurable with my friend interpreting the language and showing me her town and surrounding areas through her eyes and sharing her experiences. It made for a very memorable experience.

Bird's-Eye View

Arriving in Stuttgart, Germany, which is a little over 18 miles (30 km) north of Herrenberg, my friend drove her car to pick me up at the airport.

When flying and looking down on this part of Germany, I saw vivid yellow swatches of color in the fields. I wondered what kind of a crop it was?

Upon arriving and unloading my suitcases, the first thing we did was to take a walk through the fragrant fields of barley and rape. Those were the bright yellow fields of rape I had seen from the air.

It turned out to be an excellent place for walking, bicycling, and horseback riding. While we were doing the former, we saw several people riding horses in this beautiful area.

My friend's "little bit of paradise" is on the edge of a forest called the Schönbuch, which has many beechnuts, oaks, and pine trees. The air was sweet with fragrance, and this was a great way to unwind after being cramped up in airline seats for that transatlantic flight.

Value of the Rape Plant

The rape seeds contain oil, which helps to lubricate machinery. Hybridized forms of it are made into canola oil, which is used for cooking with the side benefit of helping to reduce bad cholesterol. Some of the oil is made into soap.

The plants return nitrogen to the soil, and the plants are also a high protein source of animal feed. Thus, this pretty yellow blooming rape plant related to the mustard family is a very beneficial type of crop for many reasons.

Aerial View of Herrenberg (Luftportrait der Stadt Herrenberg)

13th-Century Town

The older parts of Herrenberg date back to the 13th century. Like so many towns in those ages, a city wall surrounds it for protection against marauding forces. Parts of the city walls still exist today.

We had lunch at the Hotel Gasthof Hasen and dined alfresco. The weather was crisp and sunny. It was a perfect day to explore more of this medieval city on foot after our lunch.

At the time of my visit in 1997, I learned that Herrenberg consisted of about 12,000 people. With the surrounding areas, that number expands to around 26,000. Over the years, many little villages were incorporated into Herrenberg, such as Gültstein, where my friend lives.

Historical Cross-Timbered Houses

Also known as half-timbered houses, there are many of these beautiful houses and buildings in Herrenberg. In fact, there are so many that this town is one of 100 cities and towns—from north to south in Germany—that it is a part of the German Timber-Frame Road.

Those that survived the bombing in both world wars are truly beautiful to see.

Cobblestoned streets in Herrenberg that my friend grew up walking upon are now replaced with bricks. As so often happens in older cities where buildings have survived the centuries, they serve multiple uses over the years. Where my friend and her siblings once attended elementary school, it is now a goldsmith shop. It had at one time been a former prison.

Historic Church and Bell Museum

This historic church, which originated in the 13th century, is called the Collegiate Church. It is a dominant feature in this small town and towers over much of Herrenberg.

Located behind and above the town hall (rathaus) in the town center, it houses a bell museum known as the Glockenmuseum. During World War II, bells were removed from many churches to be melted down to make ammunition. Fortunately for historical purposes and otherwise many were unused.

In the church tower is the most extensive bell collection in all of southern Germany. The church and bell collection, as well as the half-timbered houses, have become quite a tourist attraction. The church is the one my friend attends, and according to her, restoration has taken place about every hundred years.

Granite steps lead up to the Gothic-styled church. From the church's tower, one can see the entire town of Herrenberg, including Gültstein, which along with six other surrounding smaller cities, was incorporated into Herrenberg some time ago.

On one visit to the United States, my friend brought artistic pieces of the copper roof from her church. With parts of the old removed roof, an artist created things such as wind chimes or garden décor which, when sold, helped raise funding for the new roof. What an innovative use for the old copper! As you can see from my photo, I still admire my copper chicken in our garden!

Gloriosa Herrenberg features the bells ringing in the church tower.

Ecumenical Church Service

There was an ecumenical service being held on Pentecostal Monday in the park high above the town and represented by Methodist and Reformed Lutheran ministers and a Catholic priest as well as laypeople. When my friend inquired if I would be interested in attending the service, I said yes. Even though nothing but German was spoken, I thought that it would be something interesting to experience.

Walking through a beautiful forested area above Herrenberg known as the Alten Rain, the views were breathtaking.

As we approached the building in the park where the church service was to be held, people were bringing bouquets from their gardens. These were being combined with others to make altar decorations. Already strung from the walls and ceilings above the standing and seated people were all kinds of torn and knotted together colorful scraps of fabric.

My friend explained to me the symbolism of those fabric pieces—despite people coming from different backgrounds and religious faiths, we are all more similar than the differences which separate us.

Forest Cemetery

After the ecumenical church service, we visited one of the prettiest cemeteries that I had ever seen. It was not because the monuments were the most spectacular. It was the setting! It was called Wald - Friedhof, which meant the forest cemetery, and it was where my friend's aunt was buried and where she will also reside when she enters the next life.

An interesting thing I learned about German cemeteries from my friend: People are only allowed to be buried for 25 years, after which space is reused for another occupant or purpose. It is the last space filled in the cemetery when the countdown begins. So the first people buried in a particular cemetery can stay there for many years longer, on average.

Another way of reusing cemetery spaces is to remove the headstones and make the space into a park. We visited one such park in Herrenberg, where my friend's grandparents reside. She associates the area of their burial with a particular tree that grew near their graves. It is a beautiful and serene setting.

In reading further, every part of Germany has its own rules with regard to cemeteries.

Forest cemetery (Wald - Friedhof) in Herrenberg, Germany

Forest cemetery (Wald - Friedhof) in Herrenberg, Germany

An old Super 8 filming of (Herrenberg 1976) with a little bit of German language but mostly music.

Location of Herrenberg in Germany


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Peggy Woods