Waldeck in the Upper Palatinate

Waldeck once lay on the trade route between Franconia and Bohemia. The village made use of this strategic advantage after an accident in 1794. The old Waldeck nestled against the castle hill. It was completely destroyed in a fire. For the Abbrandler, as the inhabitants were called from then on, a new village was planned on the drawing board by master builder Heinrich Dobmayer. This time it was more accessible, situated on the trade route and pragmatic, with a street layout in L-shape, which is still easily recognizable today.

Dorfstrasse von Waldeck in der Oberpfalz / © Foto: Georg Berg
Village street of Waldeck in the Upper Palatinate / © Photo: Georg Berg

In this historic row of houses, more and more houses stood empty in recent years. The trade routes of yesteryear, are now hiking or biking routes. The traffic of goods has shifted to highway and rail. Waldeck is now off the beaten track, but fully in line with new tourist concepts. Like the Italian Albergo Diffuso, where villages from which the youth has moved away become idyllic vacation spots for city dwellers.

Das Luftbild verdeutlicht das Konzept der Hollerhöfe. Im Dorf verteilt befinden sich die restaurierten Häuser. Jedes Haus an der Straße hat nach hinten raus noch einen Stall oder eine Scheune durch eine kleine Gasse getrennt / © Foto: Georg Berg
The aerial photograph illustrates the Hollerhöfe concept. Scattered around the village are the restored houses. Each house on the street has another stable or barn to the rear, separated by a small alley / © Photo: Georg Berg

Long before homing took off as a trend and Corona referred us to the beauty and discoveries in our own country with Staycation, Elisabeth Zintl began converting vacant village houses into cozy vacation retreats for families, groups or couples. In this way, travelers in Waldeck in the Upper Palatinate become guests in the middle of the village.

Albergo Diffuso in Bavarian

The Hollerhöfe vacation homes leave room for imagination. A modern interior meets old, lovingly restored substance. It is cozy and yet as a guest you can effortlessly imagine how people lived here 200 years ago.

Elisabeth Zintl, a native of Waldecker, has remained in her village and has now already converted four of these abandoned houses. The essentials are preserved, the protection of historical monuments is respected and yet new things are created. Thus, over the years, the Schusterhaus, the Schreiberhaus, the Kanzlei and the Kößlerhaus have been built, as well as several barns and a large area where the guests of the Hollerhöfe can relax and children can play.

Schusterhaus und Schreiberhaus stecken voller spannender Brüche zwischen alter Bausubstanz kombiniert mit moderner Einrichtung / © Foto: Georg Berg
Schusterhaus and Schreiberhaus are full of exciting breaks between old building fabric combined with modern furnishings / © Photo: Georg Berg

Old brickwork and beams can be seen. Wall cupboards, the forerunners of our refrigerators, have been preserved. In the Schusterhaus, the black stone of the fireplace flue was incorporated as an exciting backdrop for a modern bathroom. In the Schreiber house, a nest swing hangs from the beam. The renovated barn provides space for meetings and wedding receptions, and the manufactory hosts cooking events.

Alte Mauern freigelegt. Der Kamin im Schusterhaus war zugemauert. Die Architektin vermutete einen geheimen Raum, der schließlich auch gefunden wurde / © Foto: Georg Berg
Old walls exposed. The fireplace in the cobbler’s house was bricked up. The architect suspected a secret room, which was eventually found / © Photo: Georg Berg

In the middle of the herb meadow stands a Tiny House, the modern form of a construction trailer, for meetings in a small circle or as a workplace with a view of the Upper Palatinate hills. The Hollerhöfe are a vacation idyll with a pinch of history as well as coziness and comfort and lots of nature on the doorstep.

Seminarräume und Ruhezonen im Freien / © Foto: Georg Berg
Seminar rooms and outdoor rest areas / © Photo: Georg Berg

Edible plants in Germany’s first wild plant park

An adventure trail about five kilometers long begins directly at the Hollerhöfe farms. It winds through the landscape and connects a total of 13 sections of the first Edible Wild Plants Park in Germany, or Ewilpa for short. The existing nature was supplemented by wild fruit hedges, tree groves and colorful areas full of wild herbs.

Kräuterspaziergang mit Elisabeth Zintl von den Hollerhöfen in Waldeck / © Foto: Georg Berg
Herb walk with Elisabeth Zintl of the Hollerhöfe in Waldeck / © Photo: Georg Berg

Elisabeth Zintl’s home trail is the path from the Hollerhöfe farms up to the Schlossberg. On this trail alone she finds numerous herbs, which she picks to make a hand bouquet. In the process, she talks about the idea of a nourishing landscape to touch and enjoy.

Elisabeth Zintl mit einem Handstrauß voller Wildkräuter. Das Gepflückte wandert wenig später in einen grünen Smoothie / © Foto: Georg Berg
Elisabeth Zintl with a hand bouquet full of wild herbs. The picked goes a little later into a green smoothie / © Photo: Georg Berg

At Ewilpa, existing nature is made visible to visitors. Nature produces everything that grows here itself, nothing is cultivated. Apart from a few sheep that do their work and keep the meadows short. Here you can find food that also makes you full. “Wanted are not only wild herbs as a spice, but also plants from which I can provide a whole meal,” explains Elisabeth Zintl. Nettles and goutweed, for example, can be made into a quiche. Burdock ragwort soaked in water softens it and gives it a lovely taste.

Idylle auf dem Kräuterlehrpfad. Die Schafe als natürliche Flächenpfleger fressen gegen eine Verbuschung des Geländes an. Seitdem sie im Einsatz sind, ist der Bestand der giftigen Lupinen stark zurückgegangen / © Foto: Georg Berg
Idyll on the herb trail. The sheep, as natural area caretakers, are feeding against bush encroachment on the terrain. Since they have been in action, the population of poisonous lupines has declined sharply / © Photo: Georg Berg

Academy for nature experiences

Much of the park of edible wild plants has grown over the centuries, explains Elisabeth Zintl. Chestnut, copper beech, walnut tree, hazelnut. The fruits of these trees and shrubs used to be collected to get through the winter. Today, trained herbal guides bring the old knowledge back to the people. “Our region,” says Zintl, “is experiencing a definite revival thanks to the many wild plants now followed by herbal guides.” The speakers complete training in edible wild plants at Ewilpa and carry this theme in their courses and guided tours. Arriving at the Schlossberg, Elisabeth Zintl picked an entire hand bouquet, which will later be made into a green smoothie back at the Hollerhöfe. Vacationers can book guided tours and workshops through the Nature Experience Academy in Waldeck.

Der Weg hoch auf den Schlossberg ist bei Dorfbewohnern und Gästen gleichermaßen beliebt  / © Foto: Georg Berg
The path up to the Schlossberg is popular with villagers and guests alike / © Photo: Georg Berg

The bell of Waldeck

The ruins of the old Waldeck Castle stand on a volcanic hill. The view over forest and fields goes up here in all directions. Whether to neighboring Kemnath, to Grafenwoehr or Regensburg.

Burgruine Waldeck mit Kapelle und Glockenturm. Durch Eisenstehlen wird die Höhe des einstigen Kirchenraumes angedeutet. Ein Kirchenschiff ohne Dach aber mit Weitblick. "Ein schöner Ort und ein Beispiel dafür, Dinge gemeinsam anzupacken", sagt Elisabeth Zintl / © Foto: Georg Berg
Waldeck castle ruins with chapel and bell tower. The height of the former church is indicated by iron stelae. A nave without a roof but with a wide view. “A beautiful place and an example of tackling things together,” says Elisabeth Zintl / © Photo: Georg Berg.

The village community of Waldeck has been committed to the preservation and partial reconstruction of the Waldeck castle ruins since the 1980s. A particular concern was the reconstruction of the old castle chapel, including a bell that would resound from the castle hill. In 2015 the time had come. The Saint Anne bell was even cast on site, in the soil of Waldeck. Since then, it has been hanging in a tower made of plain iron stems. This bell for all has been striking twice a day since then, early in the morning and in the evening. Leonard Zintl, together with the historical society, did not accept the usual opposition during the realization of the castle chapel and bell tower. His family donated the bell. Now Zintl is even a kind of modern bell ringer, because on his cell phone, his wife reveals, he has an app with which he can make the bell strike.

Bier-Seminar auf den Hollerhöfen. Mit dem richtigen Degustationsglas, so Bier-Sommelier Georg Hiernickel, wird die ganze Aromenfülle eines guten Bieres erlebbar / © Foto: Georg Berg
Beer seminar at the Hollerhöfe. With the right tasting glass, says beer sommelier Georg Hiernickel, the full range of aromas of a good beer can be experienced / © Photo: Georg Berg

The Upper Palatinate – beer as a cultural asset of the region

The Upper Palatinate is a good place to learn about and enjoy beer. Trips to neighboring towns such as Mitterteich or Falkenberg are a good way to get to know the medieval zoigl culture. Elisabeth Zintl also brings beer culture directly to the Hollerhöfe in the form of beer sommelier Georg Hiernickel. The trained brewer comes from a Franconian brewery family. Hiernickel will give an entertaining lecture, combining interesting facts and humor from the world of brewers, maltsters and beer drinkers.

Bei gutem Wetter findet im Garten der Hollerhöfe ein Bier-Seminar statt, begleitet von einem Vier-Gang Menü / © Foto: Georg Berg
Weather permitting, a beer seminar will be held in the Hollerhöfe garden, accompanied by a four-course meal / © Photo: Georg Berg

It is about beer production in old and new times, about raw materials and purity law and about the variety of beer flavors to discover. We learn about smooth Pils and that a beer glass reveals a lot about the thirst of the drinker. After all, beer foam leaves traces on the rim of the glass, from which you can tell how many times you’ve drunk. We’re talking about house brews, Kellerbier, Zwickelbier and Märzen.

Heißes Finale: Ein gestacheltes Eisbockbier / © Foto: Georg Berg
Hot finale: a spiked Eisbock beer / © Photo: Georg Berg

The dramaturgy of the evening, embedded in a four-course menu, reaches its climax with an Eisbock beer. Bock beers have a high residual sugar content and are particularly well suited for spiking. This involves holding a red-hot iron into the very cold bock beer. A delicious creamy foam forms that tastes of caramel and chocolate.

Märchenhafte Kulisse entlang der Waldnaab. Einer der schönsten Abschnitte im Waldnaabtal beginnt in Falkenberg / © Foto: Georg Berg
Fairytale scenery along the Waldnaab River. One of the most beautiful stretches in the Waldnaab Valley begins in Falkenberg / © Photo: Georg Berg

Castles, brewing rights and a fairytale forest

Vacations in one’s own country have been very popular again since 2020. Many a hardly noticed region comes on the agenda as a travel alternative due to corona and thus becomes a voyage of discovery with many positive impressions. The Upper Palatinate is also one of the German regions with great surprise potential. There is a well-developed network of paths for cyclists here. From railroad tracks to bike buses and guided bike tours. Hikers can choose from countless well-signposted hiking routes. Among them is a section of the quality hiking trail Goldsteig.

Große Felsformationen im Flussbett der Waldnaab sorgen für dramatische Abwechslung. Mal still und beschaulich, mal laut gurgelnd mäandert der Fluss durch das Tal und erzählt am Wegesrand von so manchem Schicksal! / © Foto: Georg Berg
Large rock formations in the riverbed of the Waldnaab provide dramatic variety. Sometimes quiet and tranquil, sometimes gurgling loudly, the river meanders through the valley and tells of many a fate along the way! / © Photo: Georg Berg

The village of Falkenberg is an excursion destination that scores in three respects. Here begins a particularly wild-romantic hiking section along the Waldnaab. The mighty rock of Falkenberg Castle is one of the most beautiful geotopes in Bavaria. The castle was made accessible to the public with a lot of commitment of the village community. An elevator was built into the well shaft of the imposing granite rock and the rooms of the castle were made accessible to visitors in a spectacular way. Meetings and weddings are held at Falkenberg Castle. There are eight hotel rooms. Here too, similar to the Hollerhöfe, each room breathes history. In addition, there is a wonderful view from the high castle down to the town.

Vor über 1.000 Jahren wurde Burg Falkenberg auf einer markanten Granitformation erbaut. Heute führt ein Aufzug durch den alten Brunnenschacht in das Hotel und das Museum / © Foto: Georg Berg
Over 1,000 years ago, Falkenberg Castle was built on a prominent granite formation. Today, an elevator leads through the old well shaft to the hotel and museum / © Photo: Georg Berg

A visit to the castle museum is highly recommended. It is dedicated to the former lord of the castle. Friedrich Werner Graf von der Schulenburg was a diplomat. Schulenburg bought and renovated the dilapidated walls in the 1930s. The castle was to become his retirement home. But Schulenburg was accused by the National Socialists of being a co-conspirator in the July 20 terrorist attacks and executed in 1944. The exhibition at Falkenberg Castle is dedicated to the turbulent life of the count. His fate also reflects the history of the 20th century.

Zoigl culture in Falkenberg

The third reason for a visit to Falkenberg is the living Zoigl culture. Falkenberg is one of the five places in the Upper Palatinate where you can find genuine Zoigl from the communal brewer. Several times a year, black smoke rises above the old brewery. The classic brewing process is a regional cultural asset. Genuine Zoigl is brewed by the brewers.

Schwungvoll wird die Zoigl-Stammwürze mit traditionellen Holzeimern in den Tankwagen gefüllt / © Foto: Georg Berg
The original wort produced in the brewery is filled with traditional wooden buckets into a tanker truck, which takes it to a private rock cellar for fermentation / © Photo: Georg Berg

Zoigl beer is a bottom-fermented unfiltered beer. The Zoigl brewing right has existed in part since the Middle Ages and is firmly linked to the house and property. The Zoigl taverns brew according to demand. The Zoigl tradition can be experienced in Zoigl-Stuben, which are open to the public and offer the beer according to a Zoigl calendar that changes weekly, along with simple dishes.

More stories from the Upper Palatinate

Reportage about the traditional brewing process in the Kommunbrauhaus Falkenberg
Report on a visit to a traditional Zoigl pub

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Our mode of operation is characterized by self-experienced, well-researched text work and professional, vivid photography. For all stories, travel impressions and photos are created in the same place. Thus, the photos complement and support what is read and carry it further.

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