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Karlstadt am Main, Germany
Karlstadt am Main1 is a small medieval town on the river Main in Germany. Situated in the Franken Region (or Franconia) it is just twenty minutes by car from Wü rzburg2, a university town famous for its Residenz with architecture strongly resembling the castle of Versailles and beautiful Giambattista Tiepolo painted ceilings.
Karlstadt (administrative 'capital' of the region Main-Spessart) celebrated its 800-year-anniversary in the year 2000, and can be divided into two parts. The medieval section, which is close to the river Main, and the modern post-Second World War section, which starts behind the train station of Karlstadt and goes up into the Saupurzel hill.
The medieval, historical part of the town has kept its charm with many beautifully restored Fachwerkhä usern. These type of houses were built with a very traditional style and a lot of wood is used3. Many streets in the historic town centre are part of a pedestrian precinct, which makes it pleasant to stroll through, particularly with children, or to cycle.
Karlstadt has, because of its age, quite a few historic sites and if you visit the tourist information bureau in the Hohen Kemenate (located in the local library4), you can even book a tour or just get some brochures to discover the town yourself.
Karlstadt has a beautiful medieval church, which is in the middle of the town. It might not look very appealing from the outside, but as the church saw restoration in the year 2000, the interior is exquisite. The work of medieval artist Tilman Riemenschneider can be found inside the church also - three of his wooden sculptures are on display.
Some parts of the town, particularly those located near the water, are still surrounded by the old town wall and defences, including some towers. Those who like to immerse themselves in traditions and customs might like to take in the museum in the Hauptstrasse. It offers glimpses into the past, displays of traditional costumes and even whole rooms devoted to periods in the town's history.
Another place of interest in the town is the former Rathaus, or town hall, which is located in the centre of the town on the market place. If you take a close look at the roof, you might discover a small niche in which a man stands. This man (who is of course only a mechanical figure!) plays his trumpet several times a day, for example at 8am and 6pm. From this, the inhabitants know what time it is, but it also reminds the people of the town of Karlstadt's history. As Karlstadt was occupied during the Thirty Years War by the Swedes, the legend says that a Swedish soldier was left behind in Karlstadt...
A nearby tourist attraction is the ruin of the Karlsburg. The Karlsburg is a Dark Ages castle which was partly destroyed during the German Peasants' War. It is popular with the people of Karlstadt as well as with visitors, as it is romantically located on a hill and overlooks the town. You can reach the ruin, which has free entrance, by walking there from Karlstadt, but also from other villages such as Mü hlbach. The walk to this site is quite enjoyable as you have to travel by foot through a forest, and the views from the Karlsburg ruins are absolutely stunning, unmissable on any visit to Karlstadt.
Apart from sightseeing, there are also other leisure activities available. A swimming pool is open in the summer (next to the river) and you can go cycling or inline-skating on the many small cycling paths along the river through the Main valley. Those who enjoy wine should perhaps visit the region in Autumn, when the grapes are collected as this is when it is best to sample the products of all the local vineyards. Sometimes locals offer tours through the hills during this time of year.
The choice of food and drink is good; the town offers a lot of bars and pubs in the Hauptstrasse, where most of the cafe and restaurant scene is centred. It is a particularly lovely place to visit in the summer, as there are quite a few fountains along the streets and the restaurants and bars put up their chairs and tables outside. The Hauptstrasse, the main street in the town centre, has many restaurants - Chinese, Turkish, Italian, Greek and of course regional cuisine. For those more inclined to 'do as the Romans do' and sample the local foods, try the restaurant Fehmelbauer, which is in a cosy medieval house5, while good Italian pasta and pizza can be found at Da Franco, where the ambience is nice and the people are friendly.
Cultural highlights in Karlstadt are the Musik in historischen Hä usern und Hö fen6, where everything from classical music to jazz is offered. In July, the Umsonst & Draussen takes place, which is a free entrance music festival with bands from all over Germany. This is a regular event and is enjoyed by both the younger and older generations. The small theatre in the Gerbergasse has performances in the Autumn, Spring and Summer. The summer plays are particularly nice to enjoy, as they are open-air and in the medieval part of the town.
During the summer (July/August), many Feste7 take place in the region. Karlstadt has two wine festivals (both in late summer), but there are Feste happening throughout the Franken Region all year round.
Karlstadt and the surrounding area is definitely a great place for the wine lover. Excellent white wines (Mü eller-Thurgau or Silvaner) and red wines are produced by the region and wine tastings in local wineries are commonplace. Many people help with the harvest in October, picking grapes from the vines and bottling and sampling the Franconian wares.
Yet another wine festival, which attracts visitors from as far as Nuremberg or Munich, is the one in Gambach in October - it is very popular with young people, very atmospheric with a good choice of wine as well as Federweisen (which is like very young wine, or a bit like grape juice), and has a wide choice of music to listen to. Don't be surprised if you see people dancing on the tables at this festival!
Another important time in the local calendar is February. In the Rhine region, Karneval is celebrated. Karneval in Germany is a bit like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. During this time of year people dress up, have parties and Karneval parades take place. If you get the chance, try to visit one in Karlstadt or the surrounding villages.
Karlstadt has a train station and is linked to towns such as Gemü nden, Frankfurt and Wü rzburg, which make it easy to get to Karlstadt if you do not have a car. The town also has a bus network, which is not that well linked with the bigger towns, but which rather drives to the smaller villages surrounding Karlstadt.
In Karlstadt, there is one campsite, as well as several Bed & Breakfast houses and a few hotels. The most modern hotel is the Hotel an der Mainpromenade, which is located next to the river. The campsite is next to the local swimming pool, and is popular with camping cyclists, Backpackers and families.
When Is It Nicest?
The best seasons to visit Karlstadt am Main are Spring through to Autumn, as there is a lot to do during this time and the natural beauty of the area is at its best.
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