If you cycle along the German Fairy Tale Route from Hanau to Bremen, you'll travel from one fairytale setting to the next in the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm and their characters. But some towns also showcase other chapters aside from Grimms'...
Hamelin: jewel of the Weser Renaissance
The land of seven mountains, where the seven dwarfs lived. The tower where Rapunzel let her hair down. The castle where Sleeping Beauty lay for 100 years: many of the well-known settings exist not only in storybooks, but also in real life – or at least in very similar variations. For example, nestled in the rolling hills of the Weserbergland, you can find the town of Hamelin, the location of "The Pied Piper of Hamelin". If you can't remember the story, around 70 performers will help jog your memory at the weekly open-air Pied Piper play. The actual exodus of the children from the city, dating back to 1248, is also the theme of the puppet show performed three times a day on the west gable of the historic Hochzeitshaus, and is humourously portrayed in the musical "Rats". In general, a stroll through the old town with its alleys, bustling shopping streets and Weser Renaissance buildings is a real pleasure. One of the most magnificent buildings – and here the theme pops up again – is the Pied Piper House from 1602.
Marburg: Grimm to your heart's content!
15 stops, 109 metres of climbing and 282 steps: these are not the usual features of a fairytale class. But this rather sporty option awaits fairy tale lovers who are in good physical shape, if they want to follow the "Grimm dich" path in Marburg an der Lahn. Take the "Grimm Dich" pathway? The name sounds similar to "get in shape" in German, and the wordplay is spot on. Along this two and a half kilometre stretch, you can really push yourself – and learn about the most beautiful Grimm fairy tales along the way. From Hansel and Gretel to the Frog Prince and Snow White's high heel, artist Pasquale Ippolito has created larger-than-life figures and distributed them throughout the old town. Its flair, however, is characterised by the narrow and spectacularly intricate buildings with old half-timbered houses and the steep climb to the castle hill with the Landgrafenschloss. And by its student atmosphere. The Brothers Grimm were not the only ones to visit the university, which was founded in 1527. Its slogan is: "Other cities may have a university, but Marburg is a university."
Kassel: plenty of Grimm, plenty of green
In northern Hesse, Kassel is not only a Documenta and UNESCO World Heritage city, but also a capital of the Fairy Tale Route. Why? The Brothers Grimm lived there for almost 30 years and collated a large part of their "Children's and Household Tales" there. As the most widely read German-language book in the world, it even counts as a UNESCO World Documentary Heritage item. The handwritten originals are exhibited in the five-storey "Grimmwelt", which opened in 2015. There you can learn much more about the life and work of the Brothers Grimm – in a modern, multimedia setting and supported by international artists such as Ai Weiwei and Ecke Bonk. But that's not all: Kassel also boasts the Grimm Festival, Grimm chocolates, themed trails and special tours. Most of them also lead to the Grimmplatz Square, with its monument to the brothers. The two once lived right next to it, in the gatekeeper house. Anyone who thinks that Siebenbergen Island is just another marketing gimmick would be mistaken. The flower paradise in the Karlsaue Park was designed as far back as 1710 – and is still wonderfully beautiful.
Bremen: every known facet of town musicians
The donkey at the bottom, the dog and cat above and the rooster at the very top: this quartet is known all over the world as the "Town Musicians of Bremen". In their "homeland" they are omnipresent. Thus, the fairytale figures were given a real monument: a bronze sculpture. And in a prominent location, not far from the City Hall and Roland – both top sights of this more than 1,200 year old Hanseatic and World Heritage city on the Weser. Next door in the Domshof, by the way, the story of these mythical creatures is told once a week – live, life-size, and free of charge. There is also a section dedicated to them in the Bremer Geschichtenhaus (Bremen Story House), which is located in the city's oldest but nonetheless very lively Schnoor district. They also adorn the Fountain of the Seven Lazy Brothers in the craftsmen's courtyard of Böttcherstraße, which radiates a very special charm, with its mix of Art Deco and Expressionist brick styles. Incidentally, you can find a somewhat macabre interpretation in the Kunsthalle Bremen: a sculpture made of four animal skeletons stacked on top of each other.