Germany’s Fairy Tale Road
A tour of the Fairy Tale Road in Germany is like taking a trip in a time-machine into the past, to a time when the Brothers Grimm traveled these beautiful country roads from one picturesque village to the next, collecting stories and folk tales from the local inhabitants. The route meanders over a distance of more than 600 kilometers from the southern town of Hanau through to Bremen in the north, passing by places where these two legendary brothers lived, worked and drew their inspiration from.
It is believed that, after the Bible, the compendium Kinder-und Hausmärchen (Grimm's Fairy Tales) by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm is the world’s most frequently translated book. Certainly the stories of the Grimm Brothers, who were born in 1785 and 1786, have universal appeal and have stood the test of time.
Hanau is the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm and the official starting point of the Fairy Tale Road in Germany. The brothers have been immortalized in a larger-than-life statue in the town square of Hanau. Each summer, the city hosts the Fairy Tale Festival on the grounds of the magnificent Philippsruhe Castle which was built in 1701 as a summer residence for Count Philipp Reinhard. The festival includes performances of some of the most popular fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. The Grimm family home, which is situated in Steinau, is now a museum and is the last remaining building that was once occupied by the Brothers Grimm, who lived there from 1791 to 1796.
The Brothers Grimm started collecting folk takes in the town of Marburg during the time they spent studying law there. The city is on the banks of the Lahn River and features a 15th century castle which houses the Museum for Cultural History. This was also the venue for the 1529 Marburg Religious Discussions between a Swiss reformer and Martin Luther. Kassel is the town where the Brothers Grimm both worked as librarians from 1808 to 1830, publishing their first collection of fairytales during this time. The Brothers Grimm Museum is located in Kassel and visitors can see a handwritten manuscript of their first book among the numerous artifacts. There is also an exhibit dedicated to Ludwig Emil Grimm, the little known third Grimm brother who was a painter and illustrator.
Sababurg boasts Sleeping Beauty’s Castle dating back to 1490. Brides and grooms can arrange to have a fairy-tale wedding in the castle which is set in exquisite gardens surrounded by huge trees – truly a setting fit for a princess. The city of Bremen is the last stop on the Fairy Tale Road and offers visitors open-air concerts in front of the town hall by the Grimm fairy-tale characters, the Town Musicians. Bremen is also the venue for one of Germany’s oldest folk festivals, the Bremen Freimarkt, which is held during the last two weeks of October each year.
Visitors who travel the Fairy Tale Road in Germany agree that the journey is nothing short of magical.