Just a short distance south of Frankfurt near the border between the German states of Hessen and Baden-Württemberg lies charming town of Heppenheim, population 26,000. The town is picture perfect with its medieval street layout, impeccably preserved fachwerk (half-timbered) houses, and romantic ruins of an 11th century castle. It is also a renowned stop on Hessische Bergstraße – the Hessian Mountain Road – a wine region famous for its Riesling grape. The city center, Großer Markt, despite its name (Big Market) is compact and cozy. The 18th century Town Hall and old chemist’s shop Liebig-Apotheke overlook the square, which is anchored by a beautiful fountain topped with a historic sandstone statue of the Virgin Mary. But looking up offers an even more rewarding view: high on the hill green with vineyards sits ancient Starkenbug castle. Simply a delightful setting to sit back, relax, and enjoy a glass or two (or three =) of Heppenheimer Stemmler, great local wine.
Walking through the town’s narrow streets further reveals its medieval character. Schunkengasse, leading west from the Main Square, is a collection of gorgeous 17th and 18th century houses and connects to a parallel Kirchgasse through a steep set of stairs dating back to 1888. After a short climb up, massive Catholic church of St. Peter appears, also called Dom der Bergstraße or the Bergstraße Cathedral. The first documented mention of Heppenheim references the predecessor of this church already in 755, during the Frankish era. Read the rest of this entry