Seemingly straight from the pages of an old German fairytale….

The medieval town of Miltenberg has the most enchanting medieval charm around every crooked cobblestone street, narrow back alleys, half-timbered house, window baskets overflowing with fresh petunia flowers and ancient fountain. Intricate wooden states or wall hangings mark many homes and buildings. Many are religious, with statues depicting saints or Mary and Jesus, but some simply depict the owner’s business.

Currently, the historic city has a population of 9,000 – but has been populated for centuries (at least since pre-Roman times) and has enjoyed a rich and lively past. With its location right off the Main River, it was well positioned as a major trading spot between Frankfurt and Nuremberg. While viniculture, wine trade and fishing were once the lucrative trades of the area, now much of the economy comes from tourism, bunter sandstone, crafts and various other enterprises.

It’s not hard to see why tourism plays such a major part in the local economy. Over 700 buildings have been scientifically catalogued for their historic beauty and charm. And many of them reside in the Schnatterloch (or, in English, Old Market Square). This is the historic market square and home to exquisite, storybook-esque, half-timbered buildings, restaurants, bratwurst stalls, stalls with local handcrafts and the Old Town Hall. These structures are remarkably in practically pristine condition despite dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. In the centre of the square is an octagonal Renaissance fountain called the Marktbrunnen (in German, “markt” means market and “brunnen” translates to fountain). Dancing cherubs surround the fountain’s slender column.

For centuries, one of the most popular destinations here is the famous Gasthaus Zum Riesen. This is one of the oldest – if not the oldest hotel in all of Germany, having been originally built at least by 1411. (Records show a building previously existed here beforehand but its first official record is not until the 1400s). Rebuilt nearly 200 years later in the half-timbered, Renaissance style used throughout much of the town, the hotel has been renovated numerous times since and includes some more modern amenities. It also features a restaurant with traditional food and specialty beer selections. Among those notable guests said to have spent a night (or more): Holy Roman Emperors, King Ludwig of Bavaria, Empress Maria Theresa, Richard Strauss, Napoleon Bonaparte and the singer of Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis Presley. (Although we don’t think this hotel was the inspiration!)

The Würzburg Gate (or in German, the Würzburger Tor) is located at the edge of the Hauptstrasse and is one of the two gateways that mark the town’s borders. An important feature in all Middle Ages towns. There is also the chance to see relay wells, such as the Staffelbrunnen built in 1611, which once provided the water supply of Miltenberg.

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