Franconian Switzerland

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Tüchersfeld, a village in the Franconian Switzerland
Franconian Switzerland

Franconian Switzerland (German: Fränkische Schweiz) is an upland in Upper Franconia, Bavaria, Germany and a popular tourist retreat. Located between the Pegnitz River in the east and the south, the Regnitz River in the west and the Main River in the north, its relief, which reaches 600 metres in height, forms the northern part of the Franconian Jura (Frankenjura).

Franconian Switzerland was given its name by Romantic artists and poets in the 19th century who compared its landscape to Switzerland. The Franconian Switzerland is famous for its high density of traditional breweries.


The region was once called Muggendorfer Gebürg (Muggendorf mountains). The first tourists arrived during the age of Romanticism. Two law students of Erlangen University, Ludwig Tieck and Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder have been credited as "discoverers" of the region. The episode "Eine Reise in die Fränkische Schweiz" in their joint production Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen[1] (Berlin, 1798) enthralled many contemporaries.

Ludwig Tieck, who publicized the region.

The 1820 book Die kleine Schweiz (Little Switzerland), written by Jakob Reiselsberger of Waischenfeld, gave the region its name. In 1829, a book by German salesman and local historian Joseph Heller, Muggendorf und seine Umgebung oder die Fränkische Schweiz (Muggendorf and its surrounding or the Franconian Switzerland) was published.

The description Switzerland was common during the 19th century for landscapes with mountains, valleys and most significantly rocks, e.g., Saxon Switzerland, Märkisch Switzerland, Mecklenburg Switzerland and Holstein Switzerland.


The Franconian Switzerland has the highest denisty of breweries in the world: Brewpub in Aufseß

Franconian Switzerland is one of the oldest tourist regions in Germany. The first travelers arrived at the beginning of the 19th century. The most attractive tourist locations are the many caves.

A large range of outdoor activities is possible in the area. Beside countless hiking paths the area is popular for its great rock climbing and canoeing options. Most important is however the impressing nature, which should be preserved by every visitor.

Home to the annual Frankonian Switzerland Marathon, beginning in Forchheim and slowly climbing to Sachsenmühle-Wende, then back to Ebermannstadt, the area includes 375 km of some of the best trails for running, Nordic walking, and rambling in Germany maintained by the European-Community-funded Running Experience Project which was launched in July 2011.

The Franconian Switzerland Steam Railway (Dampfbahn Fränkische Schweiz) or DFS is a museum railway based in Ebermannstadt[2] that operates steam and diesel specials on Sundays and on public holidays.


The most prominent mountain is the mountain commonly known as "Walberla", a mesa east of Forchheim. The official name for the mountain is Ehrenbürg. The Ehrenbürg consists of two peaks, the Rodenstein of 532 meter and the Walberla of 512 meter. On the mountain, there is a small chapel, which is called the Walburgis Chapel, whose existence was first mentioned in a document from 1360. This chapel has given the mountain its name. Furthermore, there is also an annual fair on the mountain on April 30, the birthday of the holy Walburga, which attracts thousands of people.

Other popular mountains are

Mountain climbing at the Eulenwand near Tiefenellern

The rocks of Franconian Switzerland's mountains provide an important area for mountain climbing. With its more than 6,500 routes is one of the best developed climbing areas in the world.

Important climbing areas are:

  • Trubach Valley
  • Walberla
  • Wiesent Valley
  • Leinleiter Valley
  • Püttlach Valley
  • Aufsess Valley


Stalagmite in the Binghöhle

There are countless caves in Franconian Switzerland, of which the Devil's Cave (Teufelshöhle) near Pottenstein is the most famous. The region is a typical example for a Karst topography.

Accessible caves:

  • Binghöhle (near Streitberg)
  • Teufelshöhle (near Pottenstein)
  • Sophienhöhle (in the Ailsbach valley)
  • Oswaldhöhle (near Muggendorf)
  • Rosenmüllershöhle (near Muggendorf)
  • Quackenschloss (near Engelhardsberg), cave ruin
  • Zoolithenhöhle (near Burggailenreuth)
  • Esperhöhle (near Gössweinstein)
  • Förstershöhle (in the Zeubach valley)
  • Schönsteinhöhle (in the Long Valley)
  • Klauskirche (near Betzenstein)
  • Riesenburg (near Doos)
  • Hasenlochhöhle (near Pottenstein), known for having housed people during the Stone Age.


Greifenstein Palace
The ruins of the Neideck Castle

Franconian Switzerland is located along the so-called castle road (Burgenstraße), which connects more than 70 castles, palaces and fortresses between Mannheim and Prague. Most of these castles were constructed in the Middle Ages. The following castles and castle ruins can be visited:

  • The ruin of the Wolfsberg Castle
  • Unteraufsess Castle
  • The ruin of the Neideck Castle
  • The ruin of the Neidenstein Castle
  • The ruin of the Streitburg Castle (Markt Wiesenttal)
  • Gössweinstein Castle
  • Egloffstein Castle
  • Schloss Greifenstein, seat of the Stauffenberg family).
  • Rabenstein Castle
  • Rabeneck Castle
  • Pottenstein Castle
  • Waischenfeld Castle
  • The ruin of the Bärnfels Castle
  • The ruin of the Leienfels Castle
  • The ruin of Stierberg Castle
  • The ruin of the Wildenfels Castle


Franconian Switzerland is the origin of the so-called Osterbrunnen. It describes the colorful decoration of public water wells during the Easter season. During the time of modernization and the construction of canalization, this custom had lost its significance. Only in the early 1980s, it was rediscovered and in 1986 169 villages again decorated their water wells. Today, more than 200 villages decorate their village well with coloured easter eggs. The main reason for this custom is probably the significance of water for the arid high plateau of Franconian Switzerland. The Bieberbach Osterbrunnen (Egloffstein) was admitted to the Guinness Book of Records as "the largest Osterbrunnen of the world".

Image gallery[edit]


In English
  • Milner Barry, R.: Bayreuth and Franconian Switzerland, London, S. Sonnenschein, Lowrey & Co., 1887.
In German
  • August Sieghardt: Fränkische Schweiz. Glock und Lutz, Nürnberg 1971, aus der Bibliothek Deutsche Landeskunde
  • MERIAN Monatshefte, 6/XXVI: Fränkische Schweiz. 1973
  • Friedrich Herrmann: Höhlen der Fränkischen und Hersbrucker Schweiz. Regensburg 1980
  • Brigitte Kaulich, Hermann Schaaf: Kleiner Führer zu Höhlen um Muggendorf. Nürnberg 1980, ISBN 3-922877-00-1
  • Fritz Krause: Großer Fränkische Schweiz Führer. Deutscher Wanderverlag Dr. Mair & Schnabel & Co, Stuttgart 1981, ISBN 3-8134-0135-9
  • Peter Poscharsky: Die Kirchen der Fränkischen Schweiz. Palm & Enke, Erlangen 1990, ISBN 3-7896-0095-4
  • Rainer Hofmann et al.: Führer zu archäologischen Denkmälern in Deutschland: Fränkische Schweiz. Theiss, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-8062-0586-8
  • Hans-Peter Siebenhaar, Michael Müller: Fränkische Schweiz. Michael Müller, Erlangen 1991, ISBN 3-923278-15-2
  • Gustav Voit, Brigitte Kaulich, Walter Rüfer: Vom Land im Gebirg zur Fränkischen Schweiz. Eine Landschaft wird entdeckt. Palm & Enke, Erlangen 1992, ISBN 3-7896-0511-5
  • Gustav Voit, Walter Rüfer: Eine Burgenreise durch die Fränkische Schweiz. Palm & Enke, Erlangen 1993, ISBN 3-7896-0064-4
  • Rolf K. F. Meyer, Hermann Schmidt-Kaler: Wanderungen in die Erdgeschichte (5): Durch die Fränkische Schweiz. Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, München 1992, ISBN 3-923871-65-1
  • Reinhard Feldrapp, Willi Feldrapp, Adolf Lang: Die Fränkische Schweiz. H. Stürtz, Würzburg 1992, ISBN 3-8003-0210-1
  • Toni Eckert, Susanne Fischer, Renate Freitag, Rainer Hofmann, Walter Tausendpfund: Die Burgen der Fränkischen Schweiz; Ein Kulturführer. Gebietsausschuss Fränkische Schweiz 1997, ISBN 3-9803276-5-5
  • Stephan Lang: Höhlen in Franken - Ein Wanderführer in die Unterwelt der Fränkischen Schweiz. Verlag Hans Carl, Nürnberg 2000
  • Hardy Schabdach: Unterirdische Welten - Höhlen der Fränkischen und Hersbrucker Schweiz. Verlag Reinhold Lippert, Ebermannstadt 2000
  • Thomas Hübner: 25 mal Fränkische Schweiz. Heinrichs-Verlag GmbH, Bamberg 2007, ISBN 978-3-89889-058-8


  1. ^ Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen: "Wanderings of Franz Sternbald".
  2. ^ Kursbuch der deutschen Museums-Eisenbahnen 2008 (Handbook of German Museum Railways), Verlag Uhle und Kleimann, ISBN 978-3-928959-50-6, serial 251

External links[edit]