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Once upon a time, in a land far away was a magical fairy tale road running through many beautiful forests and woods. Along the road lay many wonderful things, as many stories had been built upon it. People came from all over the world to drive along the road because they wished to feel young again, like they were when they first heard the stories. They wanted to share the stories and the happy feeling with their children, so they brought the children and the children loved it too.
Like all good stories, my tale starts with a truth. You really can drive a 600 kilometre “fairytale route” through Germany, visiting spots linked to the fairytale-meister Brothers Grimm and their tales.
The Fairytale Route begins outside Frankfurt in Hanau. It is a very suitable starting point because it is where the brothers began their lives and lived until they were 5 and 6. It is the setting for a very popular Brothers Grimm Fairytale Festival each summer, with events most days from May to July. The festival stages plays from the Grimm lexicon and prides itself on elaborate costumes and staging. I’m not an adequate German speaker by any means, but am assured that the familiar stories make the linguistic jump nicely!
From there the road wanders northward to Steinau, where the brothers spent their childhoods. It is home to the newly renovated Brüder Grimm-Haus, a museum that focuses on their home life, located in the picturesque house where they grew up.
The Grimms lived a large part of their lives in the city of Kassel, where the Deutsche Märchenstraße (German Fairytale Route) tourist board is based. It is also home to the brand new Grimm World, opened in September, 2015– in the bicentenary of the publication of the Grimms’ book. The museum is full of interactive displays to bring the tales to life.
Museums can be great, to be sure, but what about the fairy tales? The fairy tale road lays claim to many settings, or inspirations for the stories too! Along the route you may want to see:
–Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Sadaburg is complete with an audience with the princess and her prince daily in the summer months. The vine covered castle is bathed in romance and has a hotel where you may want to spend 100 years too!
-The home Snow White tended while her dwarvish friends worked in the nearby mine is in Bergfreiheit near the spa town of Bad Wildungen. You can visit Snow White’s Village and judge for yourself if the tragic tale of the poisoned Margaretha von Waldeck is where Snow White’s story began.
-Rapenzuel let down her golden hair from a castle tower in Trendelberg. You can visit the storied fortress complex , and if your visit falls on a Sunday afternoon, you may even see the long haired damsel herself!
-In Hamelin (Hameln in German) you can take a tour with the Pied Piper and watch the story of the vermin exodus acted by mechanical figurines at the Museum Hameln and dine at the Ratcatcher’s House, with rat named dishes and rodent decor. I promise you will never see me there though!
If you go, the website of the Deutsche Märchenstraße is a treasure trove of information. It also has information about tours (with groups or self-guided) you can book if all the planning seems a bit daunting!
And they all lived happily ever after.
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