The stories collected by the Brothers Grimm have become an important part of popular culture. First published in 1812, the tales are still read to children at bedtime, although several generations will now be more familiar with the considerably less violent Disney versions. Most of the stories were told to the brothers in the picturesque stretch of villages and forests between Frankfurt and Bremen and despite the intervening centuries, the region remains unchanged enough for modern visitors to feel transported straight back to those fairy tale settings.
From Hanau to Fulda
The route is maintained by the charmingly named Verein Deutsche Märchenstraße, which translates as The German Fairytale Society. Its official start is 12 miles to the east of Frankfurt, in the suburb of Hanau where the Grimm brothers were born. The road blends fact and fantasy by taking travellers past places where the brothers lived and worked as well as through villages that claim special connections with different fairy tales.
Unfortunately, aside from a statue of the brothers, there isn’t much to see in Hanau as it was heavily bombed during the war. Fortunately, their childhood home in Steinau an der Strasse is incredibly well preserved, with the 16th Century magistrate’s house where the boys grew up now a museum chronicling their life’s work. Wilhelm Grimm once said that he and his brother experienced “the whole of life’s unforgettable impressions” during their seven years in the town, so it’s a suitable second stop on the tour.
Little Red Riding Hood
True fairy tale country begins after passing through the baroque city of Fulda. The Schwalm River valley is known locally as Rotkäppchenland or Little Red Riding Hood country, thanks to traditional clothing customs that dressed little girls in red caps or hoods. However, it’s the next stop that has the most important place in Grimm folklore – the town of Kassel, where the brothers moved after their father passed away and found work as librarians. The surrounding Waldeck region, with its thick forest, has a rich storytelling tradition with plenty of evil witches and beautiful maidens. The brothers spent their free time researching the tales and writing them down, with a local restaurant owner named Dorothea Viehmann believed to have been one of their main sources.
The Legend of Hameln
There’s no definitive route through the network of villages in between Kassel and Bremen, so it’s worth doing some research to find out which location is most closely linked to your favourite tale. Hameln in Lower Saxony has a particular claim to fame as the setting for a ‘legend’, rather than a fairy tale: the classic Pied Piper story is actually based on a mysterious tragedy that struck the town in the 13th Century. A stained glass window installed a hundred years later preserved the memory of 130 children who were led out of town and never returned, adding a haunting touch to your walks around this historic town.
If you find yourself reluctant to leave the land of magic and mystery, the Fairy Tale Road is also home to properties every bit as charming as the stories they inspired. With shops all along the road, from Kassel to Hanover, we can help you find a home right next to Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella or Snow White. Visit the Engel & Völkers website to begin your ‘happily ever after’ today.