About 45 minutes due east of Frankfurt, if all goes well, which it didn’t for us due to lack of a car navigator and maps, is a jewel of a town probably few people outside of Germany have heard of. We were here for four days and wished we had many more to explore its many charms.

Gelnhausen is on the Road of The Half-timbered Houses and it well deserves to be. Most of the town is half-timbered like out of a book of fairy tales. In fact, the Grimms Brothers lived around here and gathered stories from local towns, villages and forests in the Spessart, the mountains spread all around us.

Half timbered buildings everywhere, from the Middle Ages

Half timbered buildings everywhere, from the Middle Ages

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We have a comfortable modern apartment in a late 19th century home on a hillside overlooking and within walking distance of Gelnhausen, but only a block from a dense forest with countless trails to follow. And indeed we followed several of them.

We followed this hole in the shrubbery which led to an ancient source of water.

We followed this hole in the shrubbery which led to an ancient source of water.

One led to a mountainside red sandstone quarry from whence came much of the stone for the town’s buildings, churches and fortifications. Unfortunately, we could only peek at the diggings as there was a stern Vorboten sign warning us to stay out. I considered the unpleasantness of maybe rotting away in a local dungeon.

Huge quarry beyond the bend, but we kept out as the sign demanded.

Huge quarry beyond the bend, but we kept out as the sign demanded.

We did get a good view along the way of the town down below.

The old town within the walls

The old town within the walls

We took note of the possibility of primal violence.

Wild boar territory

Wild boar territory

When in a town like Gelnhausen, we like to spend our time wandering the streets and alleys just looking at the street side details and pondering the values behind what we see.

Nice doorway along the way

Nice doorway along the way

We're in wine country

We’re in wine country

How does the world’s second or third most economic powerhouse manage to do all it does on the world stage while valuing and hanging on to its ancient roots, all in a relatively tiny bit of space? Well, it does amaze us, as does the high quality of its infrastructure, goods and services.

The town lamplighter, now in bronze

The town lamplighter, now in bronze

Nice fountain

Nice fountain

The well-liked, local King Barbarossa, whom we might remember from our history books, played quite a role in the town after he was elected to be head of the Holy Roman Empire in the mid 12th century. He made Gelnhausen a town instead of a village so much was gained economically from that move. He is well remembered with place names and such.

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Here is what our vacation rental (Ferienwohnung) looks like. It’s larger and nicer than some, but part of the fun in travel is to experience the unexpected and to deal with the challenges. Our hosts were as nice as could be and immediately made us feel comfortable and welcome. Too bad we had so little time to visit with them.

Our "Villa Godobertus"

Our “Villa Godobertus”

In a crowded village, everyone knows about everybody else.

In a crowded village, everyone knows about everybody else.

There were so many photogenic details that pleased us that I will save them for a later post for folks who like that sort of thing.

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