One of the things I love most about living in Europe is that we are surrounded by history. We can barely move a kilometer without bumping into something centuries old. Castle ruins are some of our family’s favorite odes to bygone ages. The boys love to explore the old architecture, pretend to storm the walls, and engage in fierce stick duels.
At this age, knights (Rittern) still capture their attention. When I read about a castle ruin in Waldkirch, Germany, that was accessible by a path guarded by wooden knights, I knew we had to go.
Arriving in Waldkirch is easy by train or by car. We found plentiful free parking near the Bahnhof. Cross the tracks and head up Heitereweg. Keep your eyes peeled for a large sign featuring a freaky-eyed lady and a gigantic sword.
The trail up to the Kastelburg isn’t too challenging even for little legs. Rest assured, the children will be more interested in searching for the next knight along the path than complaining about the incline. The way isn’t paved, so I don’t recommend pushing a pram up the hill. Use a baby carrier instead.
Each Ritter standing guard along the route is carved from wood, and a small sign announces the story of how this particular man became a knight. The text is in German, so brush up on your medieval words or create fairy tales on the fly.
A few days before our visit, a storm with unusually high winds swept through our corner of Germany. As a result, several trees were down, and one even blocked our path to the castle. No matter, our small company of warriors were still able to charge the castle.
Several walls and the tower of the Kastelburg are still intact. The boys spent nearly a half an hour scrambling to explore every nook and cranny of the grounds. I only saw one old stone window that wasn’t barred; everywhere else was boy-proof.
In fact, those without a fear of heights or vertigo issues can climb the steps inside the tower to catch an amazing view of Waldkirch and beyond. We did this, palms sweating and heart pounding the whole way. Keep your little ones close; it’s a looooooong way down.
Should you find yourself at the Kastelburg near the lunch hour, you’ll be pleased to know that picnic tables are located at the base of the fortress. Bring your own rations, or buy them in Waldkirch before heading up the hill. We didn’t make use of the tables since we visited in the morning and had already climbed up and down the Ritterweg before it was even time to break out the sandwiches.
In fact, we still had so much time and energy left over that we resolved to visit the hair-raising Naturerlebnispark on the other side of the village. Read more about that adventure Thursday!
Knights and castles – what fun for the whole family! I can confidently say we’ll be adding the castle ruins in Waldkirch to our list of easy family adventures to share with family and friends who come to visit.