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Gengenbach is one of the most beautiful Black Forest villages I could know, and I would even dare to say Germany.
One of the angles of Gengenbach, a village that is also “film” (*) Images Matías Callone
From my recent tour of Black Forest villages (which you can see in detail on this route) I can assure you that Gengenbach was one of the most beautiful spots, despite the grey and somewhat cold day.
Why is Gengenbach a must-see town?
Visiting the Selva Negra region for several days is a relatively easy trip to make (much of this I’ll tell you in the article with route details that you’ll also find linked at the end of this post). This historic region is characterized by its hills, mountains and forests in the area bordering France and Switzerland in southwest Germany. The collection of villages scattered in the Black Forest is beautiful. And Gengenbach is probably one of your stars.
Although more than a town, it is a small city so beautiful that it has been scenography in scenes of films like Charlie and the chocolate factory. Gengenbach concentrates all the charm and beauty of the typical cities of southern Germany, and if you happen to visit the neighbouring French region of Alsace before, you are sure to find common features. Gengenbach is a perfect village of half-timbered houses, fountains, and many flowers in summer, as well as picturesque churches and historic buildings that make up a life-size postcard.
How to get to Gengenbach.
Gengenbach is located in the south of Germany, and corresponds to the district of Ortenau, Baden-Württemberg. But for more details, for example I will cite distances to nearby renowned cities both in France and in Germany or Switzerland, as it is border area. For example, from Freiburg in Brisgovia, one of the main cities south of the Black Forest, it is 75 kilometres (about 50 minutes) away. Or from Baden-Baden (main spa town in the Black Forest) is about 50 kilometers (40 minutes). From Strasbourg in France it is only 37 kilometres (and 37 minutes), or from Basel in Switzerland, it is about 132 kilometres (one and a half hours). Stuttgart is the nearest city of importance in Germany, and is about 150 kilometers away.
Explore the Black Forest by car (and rent with discounts). There is no doubt that in terms of freedom and comfort, one of the best ways to travel through the Black Forest and reach Gengenbach is by car. If we do it in a rental car, I recommend that you use a car rental comparator (you can even use this same car rental comparator from the blog, access discounts of up to 15% and all at no extra cost to our readers, plus you help continue the task of providing content and advice from the blog). My recommendation is to choose to pick up the car at the airports, where there are always the best price options.
Nearest airport: Karlsruhe / Baden-Baden airport is the nearest. Strasbourg airport in France, which is only a few kilometres away, is also a good option.
Getting to Gengenbach by train: there is a very good train connection to the nearby town of Offenburg (just 11 kilometres from Gengenbach, which is also connected by train). In fact it can be reached relatively easily by train from many nearby cities such as Basel, Freiburg, Baden-Baden, Karlsruhe, Strasbourg (France), and so on.
Stay in Gengenbach.
El alojamiento en Gengenbach tiene bastantes opciones para lo que es su tamaño (al menos un par de decenas). Y es un bonito punto para hacer una o más noche como base para explorar la Selva Negra. Desde aquí puedes ver y comparar precios y las distintas opciones de alojamientos (hay desde casas rurales, apartamentos y por supuesto hoteles). Por cierto este hotel es uno de los más recomendados para quedarse dentro de la ciudad > Hotel Restaurante Sonne.
What to see in Gengenbach.
Basically, the essential thing is to be immersed in this town that seems to come out of a story. Parking our car (in case of arriving by car) is very easy, as there is a huge pay parking one step from the old town. Once you start walking in nothing you will be in the old area, which is precisely the most picturesque. Everything seems to come out of a perfect postcard from the idyllic German villages. And it’s very easy to navigate. It is not a labyrinthine village, far from it: there are three main streets that are connected by a wide space that acts as a dry square, with tables of some restaurants, fountains, stonemasons and many flowers. It will be inevitable to take a lot of pictures (just like I did). But I also want to highlight some historical buildings that may be of interest to us or attract our attention:
There are towers, squares and palaces.
The enormous Kinzig Tower is one of the great constructions of the village, and one of the ones that marks one of the accesses where the walls were. In fact it is possible to cross the arch that was also the main entrance to the city. This tower, far from its defensive function, is today a multi-storey museum dedicated to the defensive history of the city. Another notable tower is the Obertorturm Tower, which is on the opposite side, and also marked another of the entrances to the village.
Like any old German city, the heart of the village is the Market Square (Marktplatz), and it will not be difficult to identify this space, because it is the tourist heart of Gengenbach. There is the fountain that still works today, and for several centuries supplied drinking water to the villagers. In medieval times, cities had to trade in their markets through permits. The market square of this city, as well as the size of its constructions, denote the commercial power of the city for a long time.
In front of this square are grouped many buildings of interest, such as the Löwenberg Palace, converted into a museum where you can visit the interiors to learn about the lifestyle in a house such as it was in the eighteenth century. We will also quickly notice the importance of the City Hall (Rathaus), with the coat of arms of the city. As a curiosity, the Narren Museum, dedicated to the famous Gengenbach carnival, operates in another of the town’s smaller towers and buildings.
Church and abbey (Stadtkirche Sankt Marien).
The oldest history in many European cities and towns in terms of standing buildings may be told through churches, and Gengenbach would be no exception. There is an abbey that is a little more than a thousand years old (if we speak of the fact that it is from the ninth century are a few years). It is actually the building of a Benedictine abbey that is now used as a university. Next to it is the 12th century church of Santa María.
You already know if you follow me in my travels, especially in my Instagram I am showing corners “that pass of charm and history”. One of the recommendations I always make (I don’t think it’s anything very original either) is to get out and walk beyond the main thing, and above all, be attentive to those streets that seem to be less traveled. In Gengenbach I recommend you not to miss the streets Engelgasse and Höllengasse. Although to tell the truth, it is very probable that they walk through them without looking for it. How can we notice that we are in these streets: surely we won’t resist taking many photos.
These two alleys are something like a walk through an authentic corner and perhaps less “decorated” for tourists than the part of the central square (although it is not that it is not prepared to receive tourists). It is a street of very old houses (medieval), which for example, retain their accesses to the granaries or deposits in the form of basements. But above all, a beautiful street that is worth walking: it is completely pedestrian, and we will be surrounded by rustic wooden houses with half-timbered facades.
The most beautiful viewpoint of the city and the vineyards.
If the weather gives you time for a walk and walk through the vineyards, with beautiful views towards the village, do not miss the visit to the chapel JakobsKapelle. To be honest, I came to her exploring by car along rural roads and not foreseeing it on a gray day that threatened with a drizzle. The chapel is right on top of the hill that is one side of the village. And therefore the views towards the city and the surroundings are beautiful. Especially since as soon as the urban part ends, the vineyards begin.
It is possible to get there on foot or by car, however there are almost no places to park so it is best to do it on foot. There are several hiking trails through the hills for a country walk if the weather permits.
Summary and impressions of walking the village. In Gengenbach everything is very well preserved thanks to heritage protection laws that have existed for many decades and are comprehensively complied with and respected. In fact, when I walk, my feeling is that of a perfect scenery because everything is either recently rebuilt or restored. In fact I would even say that I would like to find something a little more rustic or less perfect to give a greater sense of realism. But let us not forget, we are in Germany and it seems that imperfections and carelessness are not allowed.
Here you can see the post with details of the route from Selva Negra village to village to reach Gengenbach:
And by the way, don’t forget that a trip through the Black Forest can be combined with a route through the villages of Alsace.
(*) All the images belong to Matías Callone and are under Creative Commons license.
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