Old towns with half-timbered houses and winding alleys are not only charming, but also promise a leisurely stroll far from the hustle and bustle of the big city. There are countless of these half-timbered towns in Baden-Württemberg. We present our top four here: 

Table of contents
1. Bretten
2. Calw
3. Münsingen
4. Swabian Hall

Bretten

The city of about 29,000 inhabitants is located in the western Kraichgau region, about 23 kilometers from Karlsruhe. The city's most famous son is Phillipp Melanchthon, the humanist and theologian active in the Middle Ages.

Calw

The city of about 24,000 inhabitants is located in the northern Black Forest, about 33 kilometers from Stuttgart. The city is best known as the birthplace of Hermann Hesse.

Münsingen

The town of about 15,000 inhabitants is located in the Neckar-Alb region. Thanks to its location in a nature reserve, Münsingen is a popular destination, especially for active vacationers.

Swabian Hall

The city of about 37,000 inhabitants is located in the northeast of Baden-Württemberg, about 60 kilometers from Stuttgart. The sights of the city include the church of St. Michael and the historic market square.

1

Bretten

Whether on the historic market square or in the small, winding streets - even while strolling through Brettern, visitors get an impression of the town's history. Bretten was first mentioned in 767, and in the Middle Ages it became the birthplace of Phillipp Melanchthon, the famous humanist and theologian who was one of Luther's most important companions. Those who want to learn more about the multifaceted history can take part in one of the various city tours or discover the city on their own.

The center and at the same time the most important sight is the historic market square, whose characteristic triangular shape has hardly changed since the Middle Ages. Red, green, blue - the painted shutters and beams of the typical half-timbered houses give the town a cheerful and colorful touch. In between, an imposing sandstone building stands out: The Melanchthon House, which was built in the 19th century where the birthplace of the city's most famous son used to stand. The ornate facade displays symbols and city coats of arms that tell of Bretten's eventful history. The building houses a museum, one of the most extensive specialized libraries on the history of the Reformation, and the Memorial Hall, where you can learn all about the reformer. Another highlight is the Swiss Court, one of the most beautiful half-timbered houses in the city, which is now home to the Museum of City and Regional History and the German Guardian Angel Museum. Also a half-timbered house is the museum in the historic Gerberhaus, where visitors can relive the history of crafts and leather in the town of Bretten. 

2

Calw

Nobel Prize winner for literature Hermann Hesse once wrote of the town of his birth, "The most beautiful town of all, however, that I know is Calw on the Nagold, a small, old, Swabian Black Forest town." With so much praise, curious? Calw is indeed what you imagine a small Swabian town to be: An old market square where half-timbered houses crowd close together, narrow alleys and, time and again, steep staircases leading upward. If you climb the 100 Stäffele, you'll be out of breath, but you'll have a great view of the town - and you'll actually be standing right in the middle of the Black Forest, which, by the way, is part of the Black Forest Central/North Nature Parks is. 

Anyone interested in the history of the city should take part in the historical stand tour. Visitors will learn more about the many old homes and buildings, over 200 of which are listed. For medieval enthusiasts, we recommend the guided tour of the monastery in the former Monastery of St. Peter and Paul in Hirsau. Only three kilometers from downtown Calw, this important site can be reached after a leisurely walk along the Hirsauer Wiesenweg. So quickly buy a pretzel for the road and off you go. Of course, you can also explore the city on your own. Ideally, you start at the market square, at the lower end of which is the house where Hermann Hesse was born. Then walk straight to the nearest bookstore, buy a Hesse book and start reading - for example, on the beer benches in the brewery with a view of the Nagold.

3

Münsingen

In the middle of the UNESCO Geopark and the UNESCO biosphere area Swabian Alb lies the diverse and active town of Münsingen. This makes the small town the perfect location for anyone who wants to combine a city trip with outdoor activities.

With a total of four premium hiking trails, Münsingen belongs to the hiking region "high mountains - Excellent hiking in the Swabian Alb biosphere region". These open up access to very different landscape formations and offer an incomparable experience for every hiking enthusiast. With electric tailwind over the Swabian Alb - this is made possible by the Mobility Center Münsingen. Here are e-bikes for rent and on a total of 13 navigation guided toursspread over 750 kilometers, offers an incomparable experience. If you want to cool off in the summer, you can do so in one of the valleys with the most castles, the Great Lauter Valley, right on the money. With a canoe trip or relaxed on the lawn, the bathing fun is guaranteed. 

The city itself attracts with a historical core - many of the buildings bear witness to the city's past, which dates back to the Middle Ages. Even the castle, which is now home to the city museum, dates back to centuries long past. The market square with its many beautifully decorated half-timbered houses is particularly pretty. If you stroll through the small streets of the old town from here, it is best to stop in one of the cafés or restaurants and order regional specialties. Münsingen's restaurateurs offer on their menus freshly caught trout directly from the Lauter River, onion roast from the farmer next door or home-scraped, spicy-smelling Kässpätzle. In the afternoon, a coffee with sweet Stückle make the day perfect. 

4

Swabian Hall

Small boutiques, street cafés and a weekly market against a beautiful backdrop - Schwäbisch Hall is a hive of activity. However, the former salt-boiling town on the banks of the Kocher has not lost its charming small-town flair. During a walk through the old town, visitors feel transported back to the Middle Ages: On the historic market square, charmingly decorated half-timbered houses alternate with imposing Baroque and Renaissance buildings. The town center hides narrow streets, steep stairways and old wooden bridges. If you look around you, you will always see little towers stretching up into the air. 

The walls of the town hall are only 70 years old, but they are a faithful copy of an aristocratic palace from the early 18th century. The architectural pride of the city, however, is the Church St. Michael - an imposing Romanesque-Gothic building that stands guard at the top of the slightly sloping market square. Many of the altars are still from the Middle Ages - so be sure to go inside! In front of it is a large flight of steps that becomes an open-air stage in summer. Especially popular is the Open-air theaterwhich has been attracting visitors from all over the city since 1925. Probably not exclusively because of the art - the backdrop of the marketplace illuminated in the evening is an eye-catcher in itself! 

Cover photo: Bretten's historic marketplace at night © Lang

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