Monasteries, castles and beautiful cities

The Swabian province around Stuttgart offers not only beautiful routes for motorcyclists, but also historically significant places.

There could hardly be any sharper contrasts. Just 900 meters from the Empfingen motorway exit, a four-meter-wide avenue begins, which is actually a regular road. At least in the summer. A sign strongly advises against using this road in winter.

In the midst of loneliness

On the way to the Kirchenberg monastery

The road curves downhill, leads through a farm, then climbs through a wood, until a large monastic complex suddenly appears in front of you like a medieval village. Monasteries were built deliberately in solitude. This has remained the case to this day, even though the “modern” highway is only a few kilometers away. Since there is also a cafe with nice outdoor seating in the former monastery, it is very suitable for a stopover. After its closure, the structure was used as a state farm and school for young farmers.

Kirchberg Monastery
Kirchberg Monastery

The former monastery has been a Protestant congress center since 1956. The peculiarity of the complex is that it is almost completely preserved and is completely isolated in nature. The whole complex is dominated by the 65 meter wide convent building. If you pass it to the right, you can already see Hohenzollern Castle 18 kilometers away, another intermediate stop on this tour. From the Kirchberg monastery we continue on narrow streets. Soon it is going downhill through the forest. Shortly before Haigerloch we return to a normal country road.

Nuclear fission in the beer cellar

Haigerloch is best known today for its brewery. Haigerloch Castle and even more the beer cellar in the rock face below the castle are steeped in history. Not only was fresh beer stored in this rocky cellar, heavy water experiments were also conducted. More specifically, research has been conducted on none other than the nuclear fissure.

Atomic Cellar Museum - nuclear fission in the beer cellar
Atomic Cellar Museum – nuclear fission in the beer cellar

As the situation in Berlin became too dangerous in 1944 due to the constant bombing, Professor Heisenberg and some of his students relocated their research reactor to Haigerloch province. They came to the place, hitherto completely unknown, because the students of Württemberg knew this brewery from previous drinking trips. Nuclear fission research was not completed in time. Shortly before the end of the war, the Americans took Haigerloch.

Hohenzollern Castle
Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle, our next destination, is a fully preserved castle complex. The reason is simple: she has never been attacked. Because it was built at a time when castles had long ceased to have any military value. The castle, the ancestral seat of the Hohenzollern family, from which three German emperors descended, was built in the mid-19th century for historical reasons and is extremely interesting, but unfortunately not an ideal destination for motorcyclists. The reason is simple, as it is not allowed to drive from the car park to the castle. It’s about a 20 minute walk from there to the top which isn’t exactly fun with a jacket and helmet in hand. People with walking disabilities or lazy can be driven in a paid minibus, not really suitable even for motorcyclists.

Nice: the old town of Tübingen

There are better conditions for motorcyclists in the university city of Tübingen. The Eberhardsbrücke can be the starting point for a stroll around the city. From here, the beer garden is right on the Neckar, easily accessible, or you can ride a paddle boat or rowboat on the Neckar or just look at the famous old town. If you have a satellite navigator, you can also find the direct route to the old town by motorbike: coming from the Herrenberg side, go up the small Neckarhalde street and park the motorbike in the bicycle park opposite the very large half – wooden building. This is the Evangelisches Stift, a dormitory for theology students. From there, you can walk to Tübingen Castle. The pedestrian zone begins at the end of the Neckarhalde street: a few steps along the Wienergässle and you are already in front of the fountain in front of the historic town hall, the symbol of Tübingen.

Tübingen: bustle on the Neckar
Tübingen: bustle on the Neckar

Green Mayor Boris Palmer carries out his official business in the City Hall. At the start of his first term in 2006, a green mayor was still something special. Meanwhile, there is not only a green mayor in the state capital of Baden-Württemberg, but also a green prime minister. The Bebenhausen district of Tübingen was built around the former monastery of Bebenhausen. Throughout its history, the monastery has been used for various purposes: after its time as a monastery, as a monastic school, then as a royal hunting lodge, then as a forest administration, then as a “seat of exile”. of the last king of Württemberg, and finally, after the end of the war, the first parliament of the state of Württemberg. In Bebenhausen, it is best to leave the motorcycle in the small parking lot directly below the hunting lodge and climb the stairs through a passage in the facility.
The further section in the direction of Holzgerlingen is extremely beautiful from a landscape point of view. The region is called “Schönbuch” and was once the hunting reserve of the kings of Württemberg. We “cross” the Stuttgart-Singen motorway and drive in the direction of the Black Forest. In Herrenberg, the collegiate church is visible from afar thanks to its exposed position on the slope of the Schlossberg above the city.

Along the Bebenhausen monastery complex
Along the Bebenhausen monastery complex

Citizen idyll Herrenberg

Herrenberg’s old town – directly below the collegiate church – is always worth a stroll around the city, the same goes for Nagold. We pass through Rohrdorf. Anyone wearing a Harro leather suit probably knows his leather suit has been there before: the Harro company is based in Rohrdorf. The Swabian company went out of business in 2014. A new leather clothing company is now active on the company’s premises. Freudenstadt is square, practical and well organized, but above all square and with a very large market square – very, very large. With its 216 meters by 219 meters, it is the largest inhabited market in Germany. Actually, there shouldn’t be stalls here, but a castle. But it was never built. Via Alpirsbach – also with a former Alpirsbach monastery, but still active monastic brewery – we drive via Sulz am Neckar to the Stuttgart – Singen motorway.

Text: Dietrich Hub, Photo: Dietrich Hub

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