By Briana Seftel
Once upon a time, there lived two brothers: Jacob and Wilhelm. Together, they created some of the world's most well-known folk tales including Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty.
From the enchanting Black Forest to romantic castles, see the places in Germany that look straight out of a Grimm fairy tale. Don't forget your best lederhosen!
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High atop the Bavarian Alps sits the magnificent Neuschwanstein Castle, which served as the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. Completed in 1886 and commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria, the castle is one of the most visited places in Germany. Ludwig II (known as The Fairy Tale King) built the castle in honor of composer Richard Wagner and many rooms in the castle’s interior were inspired by Wagner’s characters. Nearby Nuremberg also has enchanting Christmas Markets to visit.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
A popular stop along the Romantic Road, the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a fairy tale village come to life. It was the inspiration for the village in the 1940 Disney movie "Pinocchio" and was featured in several "Harry Potter" films.
Hanau is famous for being the birthplace of the Grimm brothers as well as the start of the Deutsche Märchenstraße (German fairy tale road), a 370-mile scenic route from Hanau in the south to Bremen in the north. In Hanau, don't miss the Brothers Grimm National Monument in the Neustädter Marktplatz.
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” According to local legends, the Trendelburg Castle is where those famous words were uttered. Explore the drawbridge, crumbling old walls, and most famously, the soaring tower known as Rapunzel's Tower.
Bad Wildungen & Bergfreiheit
The spa town of Bad Wildungen is where the real-life Margaretha von Waldeck was banished and poisoned by her stepmother in 1554 at the age of 21, inspiring the Brothers Grimm to pen "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs." Bergfreiheit, a tiny German hilltop village, is where you'll find Snow White's house. Pop in and you'll see seven dwarf-sized beds and seven little hats hanging up.
Alsfeld Fairy Tale Town
The town of Alsfeld is so enchanting you might well be inside a fairy tale! Discover its bakeries, cobbled alleys, and timbered houses with pointed gables. Here you will find the Fairy Tale House, built in 1628 and featuring life-sized creatures including the big bad wolf sitting in bed wearing grandma's nightdress.
Deep in the Reinhardswald Forest lies Sababurg Castle, the real-life castle that inspired the Grimm's Sleeping Beauty. Built in 1334, the castle is where Sleeping Beauty slept for 100 years before a kiss woke her. After being left in ruins (just like fairy tale), the castle was brought back to life and now houses a romantic hotel where you too can sleep in a peaceful slumber.
In southwest Germany is the Black Forest, where Hansel and Gretel encountered the wicked witch and Little Red Riding Hood met the Big Bad Wolf. The region is also renowned for cuckoo clocks and delicious cherry-topped chocolate cake! Be sure to put this on your Germany vacation ideas list.
The picturesque town of Hamelin in Lower Saxony was the setting of the legend of Pied Piper, the rat catcher who lured the town's children away in revenge for being cheated of his fee. See the Pied Piper's house, enjoy the cute rodent shaped cookies from the local bakeries, and marvel at the old clock at Wedding House that reenacts the legend of the Pied Piper several times a day.
Grimm fans won't want to miss Kassel, where the brothers lived for 30 years working as librarians in the Hesse State Library. The city highlights include the superb Bruder Grimm Museum, home to a first edition of the Fairy Tales annotated by the two brothers, and the Lowenburg Castle, a romantic knight's castle from the Middle Ages.
Buxtehude is sometimes called the "Fairytale Capital of the World," along with Kassel. The tale of "The Hare and the Hedgehog" by the Brothers Grimm is set in this town.
The last stop on the Fairy Tale Road is Bremen, a charming city in northwestern Germany. Don't miss Gerhard Marcks' bronze sculpture Die Stadtmusikanten (Town Musicians), which portrays the donkey, dog, cat, and rooster of the Grimm Brothers' fairy tale. Touching the donkey's legs is said to bring good luck!