Travel The German Fairy Tale Route

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To celebrate the 200 year anniversary of the Brothers Grimm, Germany is throwing a year long, country wide festival to honor and pay homage to the famous siblings.  The Fairy Tale Route is 373 miles long and stretches from Hanau ( a city near Frankfurt) to Bremen, and follows the Grimm brothers’ lives as well as the tales they wrote and adapted. Some towns are more closely connected to the lives of the brothers and their family, while others are the bases for the stories they penned.

 grimm brothers

The Grimm Brothers are some of the most famous and influential people in not only German, but also European culture and history. They recorded legends, folk tales, and lore, some of which had been in existence for generations, not only in the German culture but adapted from others as well.

 german fairy tale route

We began our time on the Fairy Tale Route in Steinau, a lovely, quaint town that looked as if it were out of one of the storybooks itself. It was in this town that the brothers spent their childhood, living with their parents and siblings in a picturesque, half timbered estate. Located about an hour from Frankfurt, you can visit the home that they lived in, which is now a museum. See china that the family ate on, portraits and drawings by brother and artist Ludwig Emil, and more. Upstairs, there are displays on the many stories penned by the brothers, and rooms for children to play and interact in.

 brothers grimm house

Steinau also has a puppet theater, with live performances daily. Puppets from all over the world, as well as posters and other paraphernalia describing and detailing the history of puppets and their variety are on display. The puppet theater itself is a great attraction for kids and families.

 brothers grimm

We then went onto Kassel, the center of the celebration, and where the brothers lived and worked for the longest amount of time. The high points and not-to-be-missed of the personal and professional lives of the brothers will be highlighted in Hesse. The Expedition Grimm, housed in the Documenta-Halle, takes you inside the the lives and minds of the Brothers Grimm on this hands on and interactive display. Beginning with the “life and work” of the brothers (set up to be historically accurate) it will take you through to present day with the “work and influence” of the famous duo. Other highlights are a 3D virtual visit to the apartment of the siblings, a Bremen Musicians stacking animal set, and a “living book” that brings use of technology into the fairy tales, bringing them to life as you turn the pages.

 German museums

My son, age 5, very much enjoyed all the hands on activities in the Expedition Grimm. There were animals to dress up, wires to connect to one another (to see if you could get all the tales correct), animals to stack, swords to unsheath, and movie clips to see over several generations of cartooning. He enjoyed acting out the fairy tales, and learning some new ones that we were unfamiliar with (some are more popular in Germany then in the USA and we had not heard of them- but we did purchase a Grimm Fairy Tales book while there and read them since. It was a great cultural opportunity for us all as a family.) There are guides available at the front desk in English, which is very helpful to those of us who don’t speak German, that you take with you for the duration of your stay at the Documenta-Halle.

 germany museums

The Brothers Grimm Museum in Kassel is not to be missed, as it is the home to the original Children’s and Household Tales, which wereedited and published by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in 1812. This is what is popularly known today as Grimm’s Fairy Tales. In the year 2005, this was added to the UNESCO World Document Heritage List, and you can see the books for yourself in the museum, preserved under glass.

 fairy tale route

An amazing sight to see is the Castle Sababurg- also known as Sleeping Beauty Castle. The castle that the Germans identify with Sleeping Beauty is in Hofgeismar, right at the center of the fairy tale route. This castle was rescued and restored by the current owners grandparents after WW2, and currently has many rooms available for stays. It is a beautiful castle on a hill in a charming historical town. There, you can take a tour of the primeval forest in Reinhardswald, tour the magnificent castle grounds in various forms of repair, or dine in a lush garden courtyard on organic and locally grown food. Children’s menus are mini-dishes of adult meals, meant to engage and enhance their taste-buds and let them act like little princes and princesses, eating on silver platters just like mom and dad. The kids meals themselves won’t cost you any more then a happy meal at McDonalds- and you won’t be feeding them salt and sugar with a side of processed. The food and ambiance is fitting for a castle environment, and the scenery cannot be beaten.

 food in germnay

After WW2, the castle did resemble the Sleeping Beauty Castle of myth, being surrounded by unkempt hedged and bushes. Today, it is immaculately maintained with graceful gardens, roses growing up the castle walls, and lovely artwork representing the history of the location. The rooms are inside the castle itself, and have an elegance and historical feel that you will remember all your days. Climbing the winding staircase to your room at the top of a turret, passing antique armor and spinning wheels, it is easy (and fun) to imagine what might have happened in the very place you are walking, many years ago.

 sleeping beauty caslte in germany

An easy way to book your tour or travel the Fairy Tale Route is with www.toeurope.eu. You can also rent a car or use public transportation such as trains and buses, but if you are unfamiliar with the language or landscape, a tour might be easier, especially if traveling with children. Much of the Fairy Tale Route is out of the main cities, and announcements are not made in English as well as German, making it is easy to get lost or confused. For more information, visit the website or email [email protected]

 

Comments

  1. I love Fairy Tales!! This looks like such a fun adventure to go on!

  2. Ellen Christian says

    Oh I wold so love to go there some day. What an amazing time that must have been!

  3. I have always been fascinated with fairy tales. The ones we know today are SO much different than the originals! Looks liek you guys had an amazing trip!

  4. Grace Hodgin says

    Sounds like a great trip and what a wonderful way to combine history with hands on learning.

  5. Sounds and looked like a great trip. Germany is one of the places I definitely want to go – especially since it’s my husband’s heritage. The Fairy Tale route sounds like it would be a fun way to explore the country as a family – something for everyone!

  6. What an amazing trip! I have always dreamed of traveling Europe! it is really neat to be able to connect history and storytelling especially when you have little ones! Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. How wonderful!! I love visiting Germany and would love to do something like this with my kids! So cool!!

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