europe quick trips
See remains of an ancient Celtic rampart, visit a village, hike trails near Kaiserslautern
By JENNIFER H. SVAN | Stars and Stripes | Published: October 24, 2019
In the hills of Saarland about 40 miles west of Kaiserslautern is an ancient wall that has ringed the forest for more than 2,000 years.
The Celtic ring wall in Hunsrueck-Hochwald National Park is one of the largest remaining fortifications from the time that the Celts were the most powerful people in northern and central Europe.
Historians believe the wall, which consists of a main and outer fort, was built as early as the 5th or 4th century B.C. Its purpose was most likely to defend against Germanic tribes who began to migrate into the area around that time. Around the 1st century B.C., it was abandoned for unknown reasons.
Though it’s now about half the height it once was, much of it remains intact, giving visitors a glimpse of the great lengths the local Teveri tribe of Celts once went to keep out invaders.
Wandering around the area, particularly on a misty, rain-soaked day, it feels as if one is on the set of the just-concluded HBO fantasy series “Game of Thrones,” with ancient and modern worlds colliding on a slope offering sweeping views of the surrounding forest.
One way to access the wall is to follow the archaeological path. Its 10 sign boards in four languages, including English, point the way and explain the history and significance of the area. The trail roughly follows a loop, climbing up through the forest, passing through what was believed to have been a gateway into the main fort. It takes about 60 to 90 minutes, walking at a leisurely pace.
The path goes past a Celtic grave and the foundation walls of an old Roman temple. On the north side, where the wall was once as tall as a five-story building, there are stone stairs that lead up and over the wall to the other side. It’s also possible to walk along the top of the wall, though at a much slower pace.
On the outskirts of the ring wall is a Celtic park with a reconstructed Celtic village complete with houses made of mud, wood, stone and thatched roofs. It’s closed during the winter but reopens in March.
Numerous trails crisscross the area, so get a map and make a day of it. The hiking possibilities are seemingly limitless.
DIRECTIONS: Address: 66620 Otzenhausen, Ringwallstrasse 80. Otzenhausen is around 25 miles west of Baumholder, 35 miles northwest of Ramstein and 40 miles south of Spangdahlem.
Free parking at Waldparkplatz car park in Otzenhausen. The parking area is across the street from the Celtic park and the trails to the Celtic ring wall.
TIMES: The Celtic ring wall is open 24 hours a day, year-round. The Celtic park with the reconstructed village is open March 30 to Oct. 27. Call for hours. Special events are held throughout the season and guided tours of the wall are available.
COSTS: Admission to the wall is free. For the Celtic park, children 5 and under are free, ages 6 to 18 are 2 euros, and adults are 2.50 euros.
INFORMATION: Phone +49 (0)6873 6600; Online: keltenpark-otzenhausen.de; email: firstname.lastname@example.org