Gengenbach: the magical town of Germany

A brief history of Gengenbach

Located in the south of Germany and with just over 11,000 inhabitants, is the town of Gengenbach, a quiet corner, very German, where the impeccability of its buildings, as well as the flowers that adorn its cobbled streets, make it a place where you should stay at least three days. You can feel completely relaxed if you find on our website a local private English-speaking tour guide in Germany, who arranges the tours, particularly in little Gengenbach but could live in neighboring cities such as Strasbourg in France or Stuttgart in Germany.

Gengenbach is a town in the Ortenau district of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Its history can be traced back to the Roman period, which has gone through several significant events over the centuries. Here's a brief overview:

  • Roman Period: The area that is now Gengenbach was part of the Roman Empire, and a number of Roman artifacts have been found in the town.
  • Early Middle Ages: Gengenbach was first mentioned in historical documents in the 8th century. During this period, it was part of the Duchy of Swabia, which was ruled by the Frankish Empire.
  • High Middle Ages: In the 13th century, Gengenbach became a free imperial city. It established itself as a trading center, and its location on the Kinzig River made it an important transportation hub.
  • Early Modern Period: During the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), Gengenbach was occupied by Swedish forces, which led to significant damage to the town. In the 18th century, Gengenbach became part of the Margraviate of Baden-Baden, which was ruled by the House of Zähringen.
  • Modern Period: Gengenbach experienced significant growth and development in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the construction of new buildings and infrastructure. In the early 20th century, the town became a center for the production of Black Forest cake, a popular dessert in Germany and beyond.

The medieval town of Gengenbach

Gengenbach is a place to rest, walk and enjoy the landscapes. Among the places that you can visit is its historic center, which has a beautiful square surrounded by buildings painted in pastel colors and where wood plays a fundamental role.

If you have a look from the entrance to the city, you will first see an arch made of stones that turns out to be the bell tower with a huge clock. It is worth starting to take selfies already here. You will feel that when you pass through this gate you will be transported in time and you will arrive at a fairy-tale like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, for example.

Gengenbach is a charming town with plenty to see and do. Here are some of the most recommended places to visit:

  1. Old Town: Gengenbach's old town is a must-visit, with its cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, and historic buildings. It's a great place to wander and take in the atmosphere.
  2. Town Hall: The town hall is a beautiful building with an ornate facade and a clock tower. It's particularly well-known for its Advent calendar event when the windows are decorated and opened one by one in the days leading up to Christmas.
  3. Stadtkirche St. Marien: This church dates back to the 12th century and features a mix of architectural styles. Its Gothic-style choir is particularly notable.
  4. KunstWerk: This contemporary art museum showcases works by local and international artists. The building itself is a former factory that has been repurposed as a gallery.
  5. Black Forest Open-Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof: This open-air museum is located a short distance from Gengenbach and provides a fascinating look at life in the Black Forest over the centuries. The site features traditional farmhouses and workshops, as well as exhibits on local crafts and customs.
  6. Kinzig River: The Kinzig River runs through Gengenbach and is a lovely spot for a walk or bike ride. There are also boat tours available in the summer months.
  7. Schloss Staufenberg: This castle is located on a hilltop overlooking Gengenbach and offers fantastic views of the town and the surrounding countryside. It's now a hotel and restaurant, but visitors can still explore the grounds and take in the scenery.

Once in the main market square, you will come across the Rathaus or town hall, considered the largest Advent Calendar in the world, since its 24 windows represent the 24 days of the countdown to Christmas. 

Sports activity in Gengenbach

Another thing you can do in this magical town is exercise because there are many options and places for hiking, mountain biking and even playing golf.

Among the areas for walking is the Nordic Park Walking, which has four routes, each one of different complexity, and where there are specialized hiking guides to accompany you during your walk. When it comes to riding a bike in the mountains, there are several peaks that can be quite a challenge. You can take a private excursion with a local English-speaking tour guide in Germany or a bike instructor through the MTB World Challenge race track. On the different paths, there are guides who will be by your side at all times or you can ask for a map at the tourist information offices. And when it comes to golf, near the Black Forest is the Gröbernhof Golf Club, where there is lodging, a restaurant, a clubhouse with the best service, as well as a school for those who want to learn this sport.

Another of Gengenbach's attractions is its vineyards because they are located on the slopes of the Middle Black Forest and due to the climate, the cultivation of grapes is an excellent source of income. Among the companies that are in charge of producing wine is the Simón Huber winery, which despite not being very old, makes a very good quality drink.

Similarly, the Huber winery in Gengenbach in the Kinzig valley, with several years of tradition will offer guided individual tours, excellent food and wine tasting, as well as an explanation of the entire process to obtain it. There are also the options of visiting the Winzer e.g. and Weinberg Spaziergang.

The Huber winery in Gengenbach in the Kinzig Valley is run as a family business with 11 hectares of vineyards and 5 hectares of orchards. Here tourists can enjoy a particularly quiet and attractive valley landscape in the middle of the Black Forest overlooking a vineyard. The Huber Winery would be delighted to welcome you as guests in its Eichbergstrauss guest house or in one of its holiday apartments. In the sales area, you can taste and buy local wines and cognacs all year round.

Another part that you have to visit is the old city, this is a town where the oldest houses are located, there are some made only of wood, it is really magical and one of them houses the Haus museum Lowenberg which holds the title "Gengenbach Art 2016" in homage to the collector and museum founder Frieder Burda, who was born in Gengenbach. This is located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion, receives hundreds of tourists a year, and holds different educational exhibitions and more than a dozen events for locals and visitors.

Another museum is the one of Carnival in Niggelturm where costumes, clown utensils, and valuable wooden masks are exhibited, the most outstanding are the typical local bigheads of the area. In the same way, the Gengenbach Civil Guard military history museum, as well as the mineral gallery where you can find various original finds from the Black Forest and a collection of more than 500 pieces that Karl Suhm has collected in more than 30 years of passion for collecting from around the world, will leave you amazed.

The Niggelturm is a historic tower located in the town of Gengenbach in southwestern Germany. The tower is part of the town's medieval fortifications and was built in the early 14th century. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks of Gengenbach and a popular tourist attraction.

The Niggelturm is named after its first owner, a local nobleman named Niggl von Egenbach. It stands at a height of 33 meters and has five floors, with a spiral staircase leading to the top. From the top of the tower, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the town and the surrounding Black Forest.

Over the centuries, the Niggelturm has served various purposes, including as a watchtower, a prison, and a storage facility for gunpowder. Today, it is a museum that showcases the history of Gengenbach and the tower itself, with displays of historical artifacts, photographs, and models.

The Niggelturm is open to visitors from April to October, and guided tours are available in both German and English. It is a popular attraction for those interested in history and architecture, as well as for those looking for a unique view of the picturesque town of Gengenbach.

Schloss Staufenberg

Schloss Staufenberg is a castle located on a hill overlooking the town of Gengenbach in the Black Forest region of Germany. The castle has a long and storied history, dating back to the Middle Ages.

The castle was first mentioned in historical documents in the 12th century when the Hohenstaufen dynasty owned it. The Hohenstaufens were one of the most powerful families in Germany during the Middle Ages, and the castle played an important role in their political and military strategies.

In the 14th century, the castle was sold to the Counts of Fürstenberg, who renovated and expanded it. During the 16th century, the castle was used as a stronghold by the Protestant forces during the Reformation. It was heavily damaged during the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century.

In the 19th century, the castle was extensively renovated in a Neo-Gothic style by the Count of Fürstenberg. It remained in the family's possession until the early 20th century when it was sold to a private owner.

During World War II, the castle was used as a military hospital by the German army. It was heavily damaged by Allied bombing in 1944 but was later restored.

Today, Schloss Staufenberg is a hotel and restaurant, as well as a popular tourist destination. Visitors can explore the castle's grounds, take in the panoramic views from the tower, and dine in the restaurant, which serves traditional regional cuisine. The castle is also known for its wine production, with its vineyards producing a variety of local wines.

City Agenda

Today, Gengenbach is known for its picturesque old town, which features a number of historic buildings, including the town hall, which dates back to the 16th century. The town is also known for its annual Advent calendar event, during which the windows of the town hall are decorated and opened one by one in the days leading up to Christmas.

The best time to visit Gengenbach depends on your preferences and what you want to do while you're there. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Weather: Gengenbach has a mild climate, with warm summers and cold winters. The summer months (June to August) are generally the warmest, with average high temperatures in the mid-20s Celsius (mid-70s Fahrenheit). The spring and fall months (April to May and September to October) are also pleasant, with mild temperatures and fewer crowds. The winter months (November to March) can be cold and snowy, but can also be a beautiful time to visit if you enjoy winter sports or Christmas markets.

  2. Events: Gengenbach has a number of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Advent calendar event in December, the Gengenbach Market in May, and the Gengenbach Wine Festival in September. If you're interested in attending any of these events, you'll want to plan your visit accordingly.

  3. Crowds: Gengenbach is a popular tourist destination, particularly during the summer months. If you prefer fewer crowds, you may want to consider visiting in the spring or fall.

  4. Activities: The best time to visit Gengenbach for outdoor activities, such as hiking and biking, is during the spring, summer, and fall months when the weather is mild. If you're interested in winter sports, such as skiing or snowshoeing, you'll want to visit during the winter months.

The "Narrenschopf" museum, located in the Niggelturm in Gengenbach, is dedicated to the traditional carnival culture of the region. One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of "bigheads," which are oversized masks worn by carnival performers during parades and other events.
The bigheads, also known as "Häs" in the local dialect, are an important part of the carnival traditions in the Black Forest region. They are made from paper-mâché or carved from wood, and often depict caricatures of local figures, animals, or supernatural beings. The bigheads are typically worn with a full costume, and performers use them to create lively and often humorous performances during the carnival season.
The bigheads in the Narrenschopf museum date back to the 19th century and showcase the rich history and diversity of the carnival culture in the Black Forest region. Visitors can see examples of bigheads from different regions and eras, as well as learn about the traditions and meanings behind the various characters.
The museum also features exhibits on other aspects of carnival culture, such as traditional costumes, musical instruments, and other artifacts. It's a fascinating and unique museum that provides a glimpse into the colorful and lively carnival traditions of the Black Forest region.

Cuisine and wineries in Gengenbach

Gengenbach is known for both its gastronomy and wineries, making it a great destination for food and wine enthusiasts.

The town is located in the heart of the Baden-Baden wine region, which is known for its high-quality wines, particularly its white wines. Visitors can explore the local vineyards and wineries, taste the wines, and learn about the wine-making process.

In addition to its wines, Gengenbach, and the surrounding area are known for their traditional cuisine, which features locally sourced ingredients and a mix of German and French influences. The region is particularly well-known for its Black Forest ham, which is typically served with local cheeses and bread. Other regional specialties include spätzle (a type of egg noodle), sauerkraut, and the famous Black Forest cake.

Black Forest cake, also known as "Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte" in German, is a type of cake that originated in the Black Forest region of Germany. It is a layered cake made with chocolate sponge cake, whipped cream, and cherries. The cake layers are soaked with a cherry-flavored syrup and the whipped cream is flavored with Kirschwasser, a cherry liqueur that is also a specialty of the Black Forest region. The cake is usually decorated with additional whipped cream and chocolate shavings or curls on top, and sometimes fresh cherries. The combination of chocolate, cherries, and cream is a classic and delicious flavor combination, and the Black Forest cake is a popular dessert for special occasions like birthdays and weddings.

There are a number of restaurants in Gengenbach and the surrounding area that specialize in regional cuisine, as well as international options. Many of these restaurants also feature local wines on their menus. Overall, Gengenbach is a great destination for those interested in gastronomy and wine, with plenty of opportunities to taste and learn about the local specialties.

How to reach Gengenbach

Gengenbach is located in southwestern Germany and is easily accessible by several modes of transportation.

By Plane:

The closest major airport to Gengenbach is the Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport (FKB), which is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the town. From there, you can take a train or a taxi to Gengenbach.

By Train:

Gengenbach has a train station, which is serviced by regional and national trains. The town is located on the Black Forest Railway (Schwarzwaldbahn), which connects Offenburg and Konstanz. The train ride from Offenburg to Gengenbach takes about 15 minutes, while the ride from Konstanz takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes.

By Car:

Gengenbach is located near the A5 Autobahn, which connects Karlsruhe and Basel. The town is about a 30-minute drive from the city of Offenburg, which is also on the A5. There are several car rental companies in the area if you prefer to rent a car.

By Bus:

There are also bus services that connect Gengenbach to other towns in the region. The town is serviced by the Ortenau S-Bahn bus system, which connects it to nearby towns and cities.

Once you arrive in Gengenbach, the town is easy to explore on foot. There are also local bus services if you prefer not to walk.

Overall, Gengenbach is a charming town with plenty to see and do year-round. No matter when you visit, you're sure to find something to enjoy!

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