It’s been a few years since I last visited the villages along the River Main in Germany but it was once a favourite driving holiday, especially in early spring when the flowers were in bloom and the street stalls were full of jewel coloured blooms, wrapped in flimsy coloured paper, just asking to be taken home. Of all the lovely medieval villages along the route one of my favourites was Miltenberg, a town with a wide main street lined with half-timbered houses and small medieval alleys.
The beautiful houses that line its main street span the 15th – 17th centuries and the oldest dates back to 1339: what is so unusual is that all of these half-timbered dwellings are lived in. In consequence, there is no feeling that this is a tourist site, a place where we come to gawp and take photographs. Instead, we wander and look, dive into interesting looking shops, and stop off at cosy taverns serving local cuisine along with the wine of the area – and, of course, beer.
The town has a few interesting sculptures dotted around the streets most of them honouring local artisans. I was also impressed by the quality of the goods for sale in the shops, at a quality-high price I may add. Even the mannikins that modelled the clothes looked beautiful as you can see from the picture below.
Viniculture and the wine trade, wood from the surrounding forests and stone, and the fact that the town was well-placed on the river for transportintg goods, was favourable to this location at the trading artery of Nuremberg and Frankfurt and the town grew rich.
One can see Miltenberg’s importance from the magnificent half-timbered houses, especially those in the Old Market Place (the Schnatterloch) and Germany’s oldest Inn, the Gasthaus zum Riesen, dating from 1590. It claims to be Germany’s oldest Inn and an historical document tells us that a local owner at the time was granted the right to fell a hundred oak trees for its construction. It is known for serving some of the best food in town and is especially noted for its roast salmon.
From the Market Square to Mildenburg Castle, which was constructed in 1200 under the aegis of the Archbishop of Mainz, is an easy walk. The castle doesn’t really comare to other castles in Germany being a relatively small fortress, but it is worth the walk if only for the wonderful views of the old city.
A small town but a supremely beautiful one, and a recommended stop on the way to or from Nuremberg or Frankfurt.