Germany’s highlight: Freinsheim

Germany’s highlight: Freinsheim

by Anna Leigh Bagiackas
Stripes Europe

When you arrived in Germany, it probably didn’t take long to hear about the town of Bad Dürkheim—the central hub of the German Wine Route and home to one of the largest festivals in the region, Dürkheimer Wurstmarkt. But when you want to experience the essence of German wine country, Bad Dürkheim is far from your only option. Situated 6 kilometers from this larger city sits Freinsheim, a small, charming town surrounded in medieval walls, and is just as devoted to its wine and festival culture.

Its Rich History

Walking around a walled city immediately takes you back in time, and Freinsheim is no exception. There is evidence of human activity in this Palatinate town from the 6th century, as it was first mentioned in writings from around 773. Living under various rules, the town’s fortifications were first completed in the 15th century. During the late 1600s, much of the wall was brought down during the Nine Years’ War. It was then reconstructed in the 18th century— much of it still standing today—representing a well-preserved, history-meets-modern life balance. One of the most striking parts of the wall is the “Eisentor” or Iron Gate, which you are sure to walk through on your way in or out of town. While walking through the gate, keep an eye out for Freinsheim’s coat of arms, which includes a bunch of grapes—always a good sign for a thirsty traveler.

Food and Festivals

Within the city’s walls, you will find many options to indulge in Palatinate food specialties and local wines. Freinsheim has historically been a wine-growing village and today there are at least 20 different wineries in this town of 5,000 people. You can wander around the village tasting different wines along the way or get cozy over a bowl of warm soup at one of the many restaurants. It’s also a charming city for shopping, whether it’s clothing, household goods or jewelry. Keep your eyes out for the shop selling Pfalz wine and Oktoberfest-themed jewelry—perfect for a day out in the vineyards or at a future fest. Public city tours are available on certain days of the week; you can inquire with the local tourist office to arrange and ask questions about tours.

Freinsheim is probably most well-known for its many wine festivals and culinary hikes. One of the first festivals of the year is the Red Wine Trail (“Rotweinwanderweg”) on the fourth weekend of January, taking guests through the many vineyards to different stands for wine and food. The Old Town Festival (Freinsheimer Altstadtfest) then occurs on first weekend in June. In July comes the Town Wall Festival (Stadtmauerfest) on the third weekend, celebrating their historic gate. Lastly, the final celebration of the year is the Culinary Wine Trail (Kulinarischer Weinwanderweg) on fourth weekend of September. For being a small town, they welcome in hundreds of festgoers throughout the entire year. Driving or taking the train are great options for participating in one of these festivals.

Whether you’re craving the festival atmosphere or just looking for a day trip to the German Wine Route, consider Freinsheim for a wine-filled jaunt through history.

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