Take a trip with EducationWorld through the dark depths of Germany’s famous Black Forest. Dive into the culture, history and folklore associated with the beautiful landmark and thriving tourist area. From the dense conifer forests that house rustic medieval wonderlands along the Deutsche Uhrenstrasse (German Clock Route) to the castles, mountains, rivers and lakes that are home to some of the area’s most famous myths and ghost stories, this virtual field trip features mythical tales, famous foods, creative crafts and more.
Rivers, Lakes and Mountains
The Nixes of the Danube River
The Nibelungenlied (part 25), known to English speakers as the “Song of the Nibelungs,” is a German epic poem in which the heroic Queen Kriemhild avenges the death of her husband, King Siegfried the Dragon-Slayer. Hagen, the half-brother of King Gunther (of the Burgundian kingdom), murders Siegfried by thrusting a javelin into a vulnerable spot on his back. This results in Kriemhild losing her kingdom’s fortune to the Burgundians.
Kriemhild never forgets how she was slighted, and after years of festering pain and a second marriage to King Etzel of the Huns (a fictional version of Attila the Hun), she decides to exact her revenge on Hagen. She invites all of the Burgundians to a feast to celebrate the baptism of her and Etzel’s son at their castle in Hungary.
Hagen is wary of the invitation and suspects that Kriemhild has the underlying intention of revenge, but the bullying of his Burgundian tribesmen pushes him to travel to Hungary.
While crossing the Danube River, Nixes (these shape-shifting water spirits, who usually appear in human form, are common in Germanic myths) inform Hagen that all in his party will die with the exception of one monk. In response, Hagen tries to drown the monk to display that the prophecy is false. The monk lives, and the rest is legend.
Get a view of the other beautiful rivers within the Black Forest:
The Legend of Lake Mummelsee
Lake Mummelsee, a popular Black Forest tourist destination, is also supposedly home to a Nix known as the King of the Mummelsee. This troublesome water sprite continues to entertain tourists—popular folklore includes frightening tales of the king dragging women down into his underwater kingdom.
Pieces of the Empire
The influence of the Roman Empire has lasted in Germany. Just look at Lake Titisee, a lake that received its name from Roman Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus and is now adjacent to a spa town of the same name. The Romans never settled in the Black Forest, but they built roads there to support their military activities.
Fremersberg Mountain's Monks
The French monastery on Fremersberg Mountain was the home of many monks from the 1400-1800s. There, the monks not only served as spiritual guides, but also real-life ghost hunters. When ghosts would cause trouble for the mountain’s inhabitants, the monks would frighten them until they could be trapped in bags and brought to banishment graves.
Trouble in St. Blasien
Some monks even became poltergeists themselves. Two monks at the St. Blasien monastery Sankt Blasien Abbey supposedly haunted it until they were exorcised, captured in sacks and thrown into Feldsee Lake at the bottom of Feldberg Mountain. According to legend, magical dwarves monitor the lake at night to make sure the monks’ spirits never escape.
Probably the most popular mythical creatures to come out of the Black Forest, werewolves enjoy a rich fictional history that’s still a big part of modern culture.
Castles, Villages and Culture
Beautiful maiden ghosts call this castle home. They come out at night to protect a vault of magical wines that can only exist beneath the night sky.
Magdalenenberg the Moon Calendar
Deutsches Uhrenmuseum, Furtwangen (Germany)
Many ancient Celtic settlements and cemeteries call Germany home. The Magadalenenberg,located by Villingen-Schwenningen, in the southwestern edge of the Black Forest, is not only a burial site, but also a gigantic lunar calendar. Celtic cemeteries within the Black Forest are supposedly meeting places for ancient spirits, but only if the area is surrounded by total quiet.
Traveling along the German Clock Route would show any tourist the immense amount of time and care put into the cuckoo clocks of the Black Forest. These clocks are known the world over for their craftsmanship, and the Black Forest houses many clock museums and companies that keep this wonderful tradition alive.
The Wine of Varnhalt
For more than 200 years, the town of Varnhalt (German Superstitions) maintains the tradition of carrying the last grape harvest by ox-cart at the end of every season. The legend says that the last harvest will make all of the grapes too sour to drink, rendering undrinkable wine.
In the town of Kappelrodeck, a local wine cooperative, Hex von Dasenstein (Witch of Dasenstein), keeps the legend of the town’s namesake family alive. Rodeck Castle was the Kappelrodeck family’s home for centuries. In a classic tale of parental oppression, the family’s only daughter, whose beauty exceeded that of all others, fell in love with a common peasant boy. Her father tried to keep the two apart, but this only caused his beautiful daughter to run away to begin her life as a hermit in a nearby rock formation right at the vineyards’ center. This legend spun itself into superstition after the people of Kappelrodeck began to believe that the girl became a powerful and kind-hearted witch who protected their wine crops.
And let’s not forget these other famous Black Forest food products: