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Hectic, stress, fast-paced times and always the feeling of doing far too little for oneself - modern everyday life can be quite draining. All it takes is a few little tricks to bring body and soul back into balance. Sebastian Kneipp, the priest from Bad Wörishofen, recognized 200 years ago what it takes to replenish resources - water, herbs, exercise, a healthy diet and inner balance. His holistic natural healing teachings are more relevant today than ever. At these eight places you can regenerate with Kneipp and recharge your batteries.

Bad Wörishofen


Murnau Moss

Waldsassen Monastery

Holy Trinity Church Kappl - Via Porta



Plankstetten Monastery


Bad Wörishofen: Mother of all Kneipp places

Idyllically lies Bad Wörishofen in the green Allgäu foothills of the Alps. Ever since Sebastian Kneipp came here in 1855 as a confessor and developed his natural healing theory here, everything in the town has revolved around health. Bad Wörishofen is considered the cradle of the Kneipp cure, which is present everywhere in the town: among other things, in the large spa park, where guests can refresh themselves at the water stations, walk along the barefoot path and sniff medicinal herbs. 

However, the fifth element in Kneipp's teachings - inner order - is also important for regeneration and new strength. Kneipp bath master Angela Hofer: "Kneipp therapy is excellent for nervous disorders triggered by stress and exhaustion," she tells us. That's exactly why meditations, forest bathing or yoga are also part of the programs in Bad Wörishofen's hotels. Or a walk through the spa gardens. "We also have a fragrance garden here in addition to our herb gardens," Angela tells us. But what the 58-year-old likes best is relaxing in the rose garden of the spa park. "500 different varieties and 6,000 rose bushes - when everything is in bloom there, it's like a dream." Incidentally, Kneipp himself treated his patients in the Dominican convent where he worked as a confessor at the time. His old apothecary cabinet still stands there, and even the fountain in the cloister, where he administered his water casts, still ripples. Today, the Kneipp Hotel "KurOase im Kloster" is located in the same building as the monastery. You can only get this close to the roots of Kneipp's natural healing teachings in Bad Wörishofen.

This is how you get to Bad Wörishofen by train: Plan arrival.


Hohenpeißenberg: Barefoot through the mountains

Who needs mountain boots? Martl Jung certainly doesn't. The hiking guide from Hohenpeißenberg prefers to go barefoot. It's healthy, close to nature - and very much in the spirit of Sebastian Kneipp. Even the priest preached walking barefoot. Because of the movement and because of the circulation. During his guided hikes, Martl Jung always talks about Kneipp. "But people also experience it directly when they take off their shoes, because the ground acts like a cold Kneipp basin," he says. 

Around his hometown of Hohenpeißenberg, he knows numerous meadows and paths that invite you to walk barefoot. For example, on the Hörnle, a grassy mountain in the Ammergau Alpswhere it goes up over meadows and some forest path to the summit. For the hiking guide, walking without shoes is also an opportunity to concentrate on himself in peace for a change. "You can feel what the ground is like, feel the moisture. You get a better eye for nature because you're looking closely at where you put your feet."

Barefoot hiking has another advantage: If you don't wear shoes, you can wade through the cold water in a much less complicated way - for example, in the Ammer River. There is further info to the barefoot walking here.

This is how you get to Hohenpeißenberg by train: Plan arrival.


Murnau: Mystical Murnauer Moos

On 4,200 hectares, moors, wet meadows and forests come together to form a unique mosaic: the Murnauer Moos © Shutterstock/Milan1983

Martl Jung is not only a passionate barefoot walker, but also an equally passionate photographer. And sometimes he combines one with the other to create "Kneipp photography". Because he prefers to take pictures in small-scale natural oases. The Murnauer Moos, for example. "You can take great nature photos here," Martl enthuses. "Insects, butterflies, vipers. Walking barefoot might even help you find your subject, because you look more closely at the ground and discover the little things." 

The Murnauer Moos is uniquely situated in front of the Alps and spreads a mystical magic. In terms of size, landscape forms and flora and fauna, it is unique in Central Europe. Numerous rare plants grow on 4200 hectares, for example the sundew. Martl Jung's tip: "If the weather suits you, take your sleeping bag and camping mat with you and spend the night somewhere up there in a 1000-star hotel, waiting outdoors for the sunrise. That always gives great motifs."

This is how you get to Murnau by train: Plan arrival.


Waldsassen Monastery: Like from God's organic box

The Cistercian monastery of Waldsassen is almost a thousand years old. With its mighty Baroque basilica and famous abbey library, it looks like a bastion of traditional religiosity. But a breath of fresh air has been blowing through the walls since M. Laetitia Fech was elected abbess in 1995 at the age of only 38. She had the monastery renovated and set up a cultural and meeting center with a wide range of Christian and spiritual seminars. Kneipp's teachings also play a role in the program. "Balanced nutrition is one of the cornerstones of Father Kneipp's health teachings," the abbess tells us. "That's why we organize cooking classes for our guests on topics such as bread baking, fruit drying or wild berry smoothies." 

The other four elements are also important in the monastery: hydrotherapy in the Kneipp pool, herbal medicine in the monastery garden with herb spiral, exercise and life order. The latter is particularly well taken care of in the monastery - the balance of body, mind and soul. As a guide to more mindfulness, M. Laetitia Fech also offers her guests pilgrimage walks and a quiet prayer seminar. "It's about becoming aware of things in life again. Being grateful for nature, beauty and our senses." For more info on Waldsassen Monastery, visit here.

How to get to Waldsassen by train and bus: Plan arrival.


Pilgrimage trail "Via-Porta": Walking with Kneipp

Abbess M. Laetitia Fech not only passes on Kneipp's teachings within the monastery walls, but also during pilgrimage walks. "There is the 'Via Porta', a pilgrimage path between the Waldsassen monastery and the Volkenroda monastery. The path is over 300 kilometers long in total. With our guests, we walk three sections of it over a period of three days," she says. "Walking in nature unburdens the spirit and clears the mind completely. With walking, we combine mindfulness exercises and also provide moments of silence. It's the very simple things that bring people back to themselves."

There is a lot to see on pilgrimage: The first route leads once around Waldsassen with its cultural monuments and church buildings. The second tour takes you to the pilgrimage church of Maria Loretto, and hike number three starts in Eger in the Czech Republic, where the theme of water with the Glauber springs plays a major role. 

"In 2020, the symbol of the dove of peace will also be installed in our monastery courtyard," announces the abbess. "This will make Waldsassen Monastery one of three starting points in Germany from which one can walk the Jerusalem Way via the 'Via Porta' - the largest and longest peace and culture trail in the world.

This is how you get to Waldsassen Monastery by train and bus: Plan arrival.


Gunzesried - The happiness of the cold shower

Christine Waibel-Beer is standing in the doorway of her 300-year-old mountain farmhouse in the Gunzesrieder Valley in the Allgäu, waiting for her guests, who should be back from the dew at any moment. The barefoot walk through wet, dewy morning grass is the prelude to a stay at the Waiblhof health farm. "That really gets the body going," grins the trained health trainer. 

At the Waiblhof with its small spa and large garden, guests are slowly introduced to the Kneipp teachings. Of particular importance are the so-called hydrotherapies, the healing water-based treatments that have made Kneipp famous all over the world. "Knee casts and treading water are also suitable for beginners," Christine reports. "For the full-body casts later, it takes perseverance. The water is under ten degrees cold. But after a moment, the blood pulses, the skin turns rosy and it feels wonderful." For the health farmer, this kind of refreshment is part of the daily ritual. Her guests, on the other hand, she first sends out into the fresh air, on wonderful hikes through the Allgäu mountains. After which they can cool their overheated feet in the mountain stream, just as Kneipp intended.

You can find more information about Waiblhof here.

This is how you get to Gunzesried by train and bus: Plan arrival.


Altmühltal - With Kneipp on herbal hike

When a dark-haired woman stands in front of a gas stove in a meadow in the Altmühl Valley, stirring a small pan, and a group of people in outdoor clothing watch curiously, then you can be sure: Dagmar von der Grün is just hosting another one of her popular herb walks. "There's an incredible variety of wild plants and herbs growing out there that can be used in all kinds of ways," says the trained alternative practitioner and herbal educator. 

This is entirely in line with Sebastian Kneipp. In the 19th century, Kneipp was also known as the "herbal priest. He had tested the healing power of more than 40 "abandoned and forgotten herbs," as he called them, and understood how to heal people with them. Anyone who walks through nature with Dagmar von der Grün not only learns about the healing properties of herbs and wild plants in the spirit of Kneipp, but also finds out that they taste good. In her own kitchen, the Franconian has access to over 30 jars and tins of herbs, seeds and roots that she has collected herself. And is thus totally in the trend. "Many people are tired of chemicals and want to get back out into nature," she says. "There, by the way, they not only find wonderfully flavorful herbs, but also, quite incidentally, themselves."

You can find more information about the herb hike here.

This is how you get to the Altmühltal by train and bus: Plan arrival.


Altmühltal and Upper Palatinate - herb gardens

Around Plankstetten Abbey lie the fields that the abbey cultivates © AdobeStock/Otto Durst

When Dagmar von der Grün is not searching for herbs in the meadows of her homeland, she looks for them in gardens. "I have a weakness for monastery gardens and the centuries-old knowledge they contain," she says, "for example, the baroque Benedictine monastery of Plankstetten near Berching in the Altmühl Valley. They have a large monastery nursery that grows many old varieties of fruit and vegetables, numerous herbs, and it's all purely organic." 

This is how you get to Plankstetten by train and bus: Plan arrival.

"A little further away, near Kemnath in the Upper Palatinate, there has been an EWILPA, an edible wild plant park, since 2018. Very interesting." A roughly five-kilometer-long adventure trail leads through the romantic landscape at Waldecker Schlossberg and connects the 13 sub-areas of Germany's first EWILPA. "The park winds through various natural habitats where you can learn about a wide variety of edible wild plants."

This is how you get to Kemnath by train: Plan arrival.

You can find more about Kneipp in Bavaria in the video:

Cover image: Practical: What Abbess M. Laetitia Fech needs for her cooking classes, she finds in the monastery garden © www.bayern.by - Gert Krautbauer

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