Eppstein, Germany, offers castle ruins and picturesque walking
About 8 miles north of Wiesbaden, Germany, at the foot of the rolling Taunus Mountains, lies the 1,000-year-old town of Eppstein. Dominated by its partially renovated castle, first mentioned in the year 1122, the town of just more than 13,000 possesses a picturesque pedestrian district and hidden historical treasures spread around its modest confines.
Burg Eppstein, as the castle is known, was the power base of the formidable House of Eppstein, several of whose members held office as the elector of Mainz, one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire. While the family’s hereditary castle has fallen into disrepair over the centuries, renovations begun in the late 19th century have restored some of its former luster.
A modern, steel spiral staircase allows visitors to climb nearly 200 steps to the top of the highest tower, which offers a 360-degree view of the town and its surroundings. In the fall, changing leaves give the heavily forested Taunus a golden glow.
A museum on the castle grounds houses artifacts. The volunteer staff, many of whom speak English, are happy to explain the history of the town and castle to visitors. Surrounding the castle is a small park, perfect for a family stroll or walking the dog. The castle is but one of the attractions in Eppstein. The small cemetery, just off of the main square, has tombstones dating to 1592, and many more from the 17th century. Adjacent to it is an impressive memorial to the town’s fallen soldiers in World War I, which lists the names of residents who died in the trenches of that terrible conflict. One family, the Sparwassers, lost five children.
For hikers, a 4.6-mile circuit trail, which begins near the city center, goes to the nearby Imperial Temple, erected to honor Kaiser Wilhelm II. Perched on an overlook above the town, it offers an amazing panoramic view of the castle and downtown Eppstein.
There are several restaurants within an easy walk from the castle, from doener shops to fine dining. The Hotel Zum Taunus and Pflasterschisser offer extensive menus of local wines to accompany traditional regional cuisine, such as schnitzel, Flammkuchen and fish.
DIRECTIONS By car from Wiesbaden: Take the B455 northeast past Bierstadt. Eppstein will be on your left after a 15-20-minute drive. By train: Take the R21 from Wiesbaden Hauptbahnhof to Niedernhausen. At Niedernhausen, take the S2 toward Dietzenbach and get off at the Eppstein Bahnhof.
PARKING Free parking is available along the highway and around the city center.
TIMES Castle hours: April-October: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays-Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays. November-March: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays.
COSTS Castle admission: Adults 2 euros ($2.25), children, 50 cents.
INFORMATION Website: eppstein.de. Telephone: (49) (0) 61 9830-5131