If you like this style of architecture and enjoy visiting beautiful, old towns, then consider taking a side trip up into the Taunus mountains just North of Frankfurt, and visit Idstein, a lovely, historical town of 25,000 inhabitants. Packed full of some of the most elaborate Fachwerk (half-timbered) houses I have ever seen, this is a town I would certainly take time to visit while staying in Frankfurt.
The Hexen Turm or Witches Tower, looms over the market square and the baroque style Residential Palace. This tower was built in the 1100’s, added to a few times, but is basically unchanged since the 1500’s. If open, climb to the top if you are feeling fit and want a stunning view. Though no record has been found that says witches or warlocks were ever imprisoned in the tower, Idstein did execute 39 people during the heyday of the witch trials. Nearby, is the Union Church, with its extremely unusual ceiling. This ceiling is made of 38 oil paintings done in the late 1600’s, and in the Rubens style. Simply magnificent is all I can say, since words don’t do it justice.
The Union Church has re-opened after 5 years of restoration.
There are many cities and towns on the Fachwerk Route, but Idstein has one of the most opulent houses of them all, the Killingerhaus, built in 1527. As you stroll around the winding, cobblestone streets, it will be hard to miss the Crooked House, sitting next to the town hall. Most of the buildings and houses date from the 1500-1600’s, with the oldest being built in 1410, so prepare to enjoy these wonderful examples of Fachwerk architecture.
Idstein has plenty of restaurants, cafes, and interesting little stores. Hotels and B&B’s are also available, and this would be a great place to spend a day or two. From the town, you can also go hiking in the Taunus mountains, perhaps following the Roman boundary lines, called the Limes, and visit a reconstructed guard tower located South of Idstein.
Our Frankfurt on Foot tour guides will be happy to include Idstein as part of your private tour with advance notice.