Near Grafenwoehr, a palace and gardens fit for royalty
Stars and Stripes June 7, 2017
Less than an hour’s drive north of the Grafenwoehr Training Area is a palace and royal gardens nestled in a forest that would look more in place in a classic fairy tale than the modern world.
The Bayreuth Hermitage had its beginnings in the 18th century when the regional margraves (German Dukes) turned part of this remote forest into a striking neoclassical wonderland. The margraves imagined that they could turn this royal forest into an imitation of the simple life of a monk’s hermit order, or “hermitage.” However, if simple was what they were going for, they missed their mark.
As you walk through the immense gardens, you find architectural wonders hidden around every corner. One of the first monuments you see when you reach the end of the archway of trees is the Temple of the Sun.
The temple, part of the New Palace created by Frederick the Great’s sister Wilhelmine, is adorned with a golden chariot with four horses, driven by the Greek god Apollo. What’s even more striking is that the facade of the palace is made entirely of crystals, which sparkle magnificently midday.
Behind the New Palace, the vast complex opens up to several paths, where you can explore the grounds as you please. Regardless of the direction you choose, you are sure to find a feast for the eyes. The Hermitage is filled with manicured gardens and hedge mazes, hidden areas filled with statues or fountains, and intricate grottoes decorated with animals carved entirely out of shells.
The Old Palace, located a short walk south of the New Palace, is richly decorated and adorned with original paintings, primarily portraits of the Bayreuth nobles. Nearby is the Theater in the Ruins, a unique re-creation of the ruins of a Roman theater, which still shows popular plays, especially during summer.
When you’ve had your fill of exploring the paths, there are several cafes within the former royal residences that serve local specialties, or you can do as the locals do and find a quiet area in the forest all to yourself, and just relax.
The Bayreuth Hermitage
Directions: The Bayreuth Hermitage is located 45 minutes north of Grafenwoehr. Follow Strasse B299 to B222, and follow that to Bayreuth. Signs will point the way from there.
Times: Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Cost: Free to enter and free parking.
Food: There are two permanent cafes and some seasonal vendors open for events.
Information: (+49) (0)921 7596937; https://www.schloesser.bayern.de/englisch/palace/index.htm