The evocative – and sometimes spooky – landscapes that inspired the Brothers Grimm fairy tales are still out there for the adventurous traveler.
Cinderella. Rumpelstiltskin. Hansel and Gretel. Sleeping Beauty. Rapunzel. These fairy tales characters have become inextricable parts of the pop culture fabric. But they all might have been lost if not for the efforts of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm – you know them as the Brothers Grimm. Their Children’s and Household Tales, first published in 1812, gathered together countless classics that are still being enjoyed (and adapted) more than two centuries later.
The evocative – and sometimes spooky – landscapes that inspired the Brothers Grimm fairy tales are still out there for the adventurous traveler. Germany’s Fairy-Tale Road, located on 370 miles (600 km) of scenic beauty north of Frankfurt, takes travelers on a magical journey through enchanted forests, majestic castles, quaint villages and beyond. Below, we’ve gathered a few highlights. Keep an eye out for witches, big bad wolves and wicked stepsisters
Start your trip in Steinau by paying a visit to the House of the Brothers Grimm, a stately structure where the Grimm Family lived in the late 18th century. It’s been converted into a fascinating museum that traces the Brothers’ lives and gives keen insight into the origins of their fairy tales. You’ll also want to explore Castle Steinau, a medieval palace that must’ve stoked the imaginations of the young Brothers Grimm when collecting tales of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.
Next, follow in the footsteps of Little Red Riding Hood in the forests of the Schwalm region. This area is also called Rotkäppchenland, or “Little Red Cap” country (“Little Red Cap” being the original English translation of “Little Red Riding Hood”). The trails that lead through the dark forests here will have you looking over your shoulder for a big, bad wolf. You’ll also want to see the nearby Museum of Schwalm, in the moat-encircled fortress of Ziegenhain, which features traditional clothing that Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother would have worn.
The city of Kassel is where the Brothers Grimm set about collecting the folklore that would make up their Children’s and Household Tales. Opened in 2012 to celebrate the bicentennial of the publication the book, Kassel’s GRIMM WORLD is a must-visit for anyone who’s loved any of the Grimm fairy tales – which is pretty much everyone. The state-of-the-art attraction features an array of interactive exhibits, as well as some amazing artifacts – including the Brothers Grimm’s personal copy of Children’s and Household Tale, valued at well over $22 million.
The legend of Sleeping Beauty has enchanted audiences for centuries, from the Grimm Brothers’ original to the classic Disney cartoon to 2014’s Angelina Jolie-starring Malificent. Discover the place where it all began – Castle Sababurg, a romantic palace that was built almost 700 years ago. You’ll know why it’s associated with Sleeping Beauty right away, thanks to the towering, thorny hedge at the foot of the castle. You can also climb to the top of the castle tower – is this where Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger and fell into eternal slumber? In summer, don’t miss theater performances in the castle’s courtyard.
And speaking of towers … another fairy tale princess is said to have made her home in the charming town of Trendelburg. Her name was Rapunzel, and an evil witch famously imprisoned her in the town’s fortress tower (it’s now a hotel). Her only hope for escape? Growing her hair out for a young prince to climb up. The scene is re-enacted in Trendelburg regularly, with Rapunzel’s legendary hair dropping down from a high castle window.