Fantastic location, breathtaking view, historic walls, a unique museum – and way too little time: a visit to Klaus Johe, the tourist manager of Lindenfels in the Odenwald.
If it had rolled and not slid this could have had disastrous consequences for the small town in the Odenwald back then: this enormous rock which they today call the “Drachenfels” (Dragon Rock) here in Lindenfels. Years ago, it broke away from the mountain, burst through the castle ruin’s wall – and came to a halt not far from the first houses. This was indeed dangerous – but luckily enough, it all ended well.
Further along the route: passing by the medical plants garden which used to save lives in the past and is still lovingly taken care of today. Towards the dark dungeon, the so-called “Eisengrün-Turm”. This tower is named after its last prisoner who is said to have attacked the prince-elector while he was hunting. Klaus Johe, too, listens attentively to visitor guide Ilse Bonn talking about these places and their stories.
Volunteers like the 77-year-old tour guide are a blessing for Johe. He is the director of the spa and tourist services in Lindenfels and manages, to be precise, himself. Lindenfels belongs to those municipalities receiving financial aid by the state of Hesse, since their coffers are empty. The town comprising 5,100 inhabitants has to economize – in the tourism sector, too. While some years back Johe was supported by a colleague working part-time, he now has to cope by himself. This is why he now sometimes feels “like a jack of all trades” who is constantly short of time. “Time for something creative.”
The man from Beerfelden is responsible for the spa town with its therapeutic climate. Its houses are situated at an altitude of 340 to 550 meters built on the terraces at the south-western slope of the Odenwald – a spectacular location with a terrific view overlooking the Rhine valley and the Odenwald. “Lindenfels has a mythical landscape,” Klaus Johe says enthusiastically meaning this quite literally, since the “Nibelungensteig” hiking trail goes directly past his office window – this long-distance trail crossing the Odenwald all the way from the Bergstraße district in the west to the river Main. Surrounded by sights, paved with stories. Hikers can take a rest at wells where Hagen von Tronje is said to have murdered Siegfried.
Lindenfels was first mentioned in records in 1123. Conrad of Hohenstaufen, Count Palatine of the Rhine and half-brother of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, is said to have built the castle – the starting point of the politics in the Electoral Palatinate region. Over the centuries the castle was expanded: the city wall was built, the castle turned into a fortress. Several times hostile troops occupied the castle, yet did not destroy it. In fact, three local gentlemen were responsible for that.
Klaus Johe quotes the mnemonic rhyme: “Marlock, Ferber and Mack – brought Lindenfels Castle bad luck”.
The representatives of the higher authorities arranged for the castle to be sold for demolition in 1779. This is why stones from the castle still support old buildings in the town of Lindenfels today.