What if you knew there was a vacation spot that combined your love of clocks with breathtaking scenery, German tradition, delicious cuisine and historic sites? Well, there is such a place. Up high on the mountain range in the southwest region of Germany, bordering the Rhine River, sits an expansive carpet of trees known as the Black Forest. It’s a place filled with myths and fairy tale settings, where if you were ever to cross paths with a hobbit or a team of dwarfs, that’s where it could happen.
You can be one of the millions of visitors who stroll through the Forest each year. When you’re there, you’ll find a series of travel routes throughout the region that make it easy to explore at your own pace. Each route journeys through places that are linked by a common theme; among the most popular routes are the Romantic Route along the Rhine River, the Schwäbisch Baroque Route and the circular shaped Clock Route known in German as “Deutsche Uhrenstrasse.”
Sites, Sounds and Smells
The path of the Clock Route is a circular, so any town along the way is a proper starting point. The route road is a packed tour of discovery and runs about about 320 kilometers through an immense variety of sites, sounds, smells, culture and history. You’ll encounter picturesque towns and quaint villages with shop signs of wrought iron, hotels, inns, guest houses and restaurants that serve local specialties like smoked ham and streamed trout… and of course Wild Cherry German Schnapps. The route takes you through many scenic charms of the Black Forest – half-timbered farmhouses with wooden shingles, crystal clear streams, lakes and waterfalls, lush meadows, winding valleys and thick forests of dark green. Then there are the ancient castles, monasteries and Roman baths, skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer, and a diverse selection of health and wellness resorts. The more you know about this remarkable place, the better it sounds.
Yet, with its amazing lineup of impressive attractions, one of the biggest reasons tourists head to the Black Forest is the allure of the humble cuckoo clock. In fact, the charm of the cuckoo clock has played such an important role in shaping region’s history, that the clock has long standing been a symbol of the Black Forest and it’s 300 years old tradition of clock making. What better introduction to that tradition could there be than a jaunt down the German Clock Route?
As you journey the route you’ll find small clock making workshops, state of the art factories like Rombach and Haas and Anton Schneider, and clock painting studios. You’ll be able to observe, first hand style, clock smiths working their craft, from beginning to end; and by the time you’re done you’ll have a greater insight into the art and science of German clock making.
World’s Largest Collection
Along the entire stretch of the Clock Route, you’ll also encounter so many fascinating places, rich in tradition with a story to tell. One of those places is Furtwangen. Your camera will be busy in this small picturesque city, which for a long time, has been the largest clock production center in the region. It’s also the home of the world famous German Clock Museum (“Deutsches-Uhrenmuseum”.) But get ready, because they have the world’s largest collection of German clocks – over 4,000 of them. So, you might want to set aside some extra time to take it all in. The museum began as an idea of Robert Gerwig, the headmaster of the first clock maker’s school founded there. That was in the mid nineteenth century. In his foresight, he urged the people to keep and collect the old hand-carved wooden clocks that would eventually become the beginning of the German Clock Museum. And if you want to behold the landscape from a high vantage point, take a climb up the Furtwangen’s observation tower for a magnificent view.
Where The Cuckoo Clock Was Born
Not far from Furtwangen is the beautiful holiday retreat spot of Schonwald, the place where by popular and traditional belief, clock master Franz Kellerer devised a clever mechanical system using two small bellows and wooden whistles, much like the pipe organ, to reproduce the familiar two-note call of the cuckoo. The year was about 1740, and that was the birth of the world’s very first cuckoo clock.
Continuing on the route, you’ll come to Schwenningen, formerly the biggest clock-making town in the world. There you’ll find the Museum of Clock Industry housed in an old factory building. It’s well worth your visiting time, especially if you’re interested in the history of the alarm clock and industrial clock. There is also a health spa, clock workshops, an ice skating rink and the International Aircraft Museum. It’s a town with plenty of character.
When you come to the beautiful town of Schonach, you’ll see and hear the largest cuckoo clock in the world. And if you’re a hobby clock maker or looking for replacement parts for old clocks, you’ll find Trossingen to be a paradise with over 10,000 clock building items. But let’s not forget about grandfather clocks – in the towns of Lenzkirch and Lauterbach you can take in some excellent exhibits featuring a number of stately grandfather clocks and their German history. And in the village of Simonswald, known for its cuckoo clock production, you can also experience its folklore evenings, jewelry making, old world mills and its many restaurants dating back to the 15th and 16th century.
Want to see an impressive collection of antique Black Forest clocks and barrel organs? You can at the Black Forest Museum (“Schwarzwaldmuseum”) It has the largest collection of barrel organs in Europe. The museum is located above the entrance to the beautiful Triberg waterfalls, the highest in Germany. When you arrive at the entrance to the falls in the morning bring a bag of peanuts with you – you’ll find a whole lot of squirrels waiting for a second breakfast.
So if you’ve been thinking of a new place to visit on your next vacation, Germany’s Black Forest could be just for you. We’ve touched on just some of the attractions; there are so many more.
In the meantime, you can take a “guided tour” of the Black Forest in just two minutes…
by watching this video of the Black Forest. One of its stops is Staufen, a charming medieval town with cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, located along the southern trunk of the forest. Enjoy!
Large Top Photo #1 – View Of Valley With Clouds – germany.travel/en/index.html
Photo #3 – Map Of Germany – mygermancity.com
Photo #10 – Small Black Forest Town – domenico1974.wordpress.com
Photo #11 – Waterfall in Triberg – black-forest-travel.com