Just past the beer haven of Kulmbach is the small town of Kronach and the Franconian Forest and both are well worth a visit.
Over 1000 years old the town is celebrated as the birthplace of Luis Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) the Renaissance artist whose mythological and historical work can best be described as ‘different’.
A huge success he befriended Martin Luther and was a very influential painter of his time. This is reflected in the towns pride in its favourite son and there are exhibitions of his work and workshops held in the town.
The Renaissance influence can be seen in the towns architecture and Kronach is absolutely beautiful. It’s half timbered buildings and the magnificent Rathaus are typically Bavarian and taking a walk around the streets will leave you shaking your head in wonder at the buildings and the beautifully preserved and complete city wall which surrounds them.
Don’t miss the Gothic parish church of St John in the upper city which I guarantee will have clicking your digital camera as fast as it will go.
Dominating the town and towering above it is the huge Fortress Rosenberg which is one the largest fortifications in the whole of Germany.
Dating back to the thirteenth century the castle was built for the Prince Bishops of Bamberg and was never taken by an enemy, though it was besieged several times during the Thirty Years War. In more recent times it was a prisoner of war camp during the First World War and after World War 2 it became home to many refugees and displaced people.
Nowadays the fortress houses the Franconian Gallery in some of the best works of Luis Cranach the Elder can be seen. The castle also hosts many other events and visitors are recommended to take the tour – the highlight of which is undoubtedly the underground tunnel system.
Few people seem to include Kronach on their touring schedule but please try and visit the town if you can. You won’t be disappointed.
For those who plan to enjoy a Bavarian walking holiday the Franconian Forest is an ideal place to visit.
Much of the area is devoted to a nature park and the whole forest is unspoilt. The hills rise to a height of around 600 meters but the going is easy in most places and wandering through the forest the hiker will come upon lots of small villages that are well off the beaten track and are delightful to visit.
The River Hablach winds its way through the hillsides and a great way to explore the area is on one of the many raft trips that are very popular with tourists.
Hikers visiting Kronach and the Franconian Forest should be sure to explore the Rennsteig which is a long walking route through the northern part of the forest from Tettau to Steinbach am Wald.