When we moved to Fulda five years ago, we couldn’t imagine that such a small city could offer so many possibilities for entertainment. This town has a magical combination of history, architecture, outdoor activities, culture, and local cuisine that will catch the attention of children and adults alike.
Don’t let travel brochures trick you into thinking that Fulda is a destination only for grownups! This article brings you 10 fun facts about Fulda to have in mind when planning your visit to Hesse, Germany. Given that the distance between Frankfurt and Fulda is approximately 100 kilometers, Fulda is an inviting option for a day-trip with the whole family if you happen to be in Frankfurt.
1. Home of St. Boniface’s Tomb
Fulda Cathedral, first on the list, is one of the most impressive Baroque buildings in the state of Hesse and it is the home of the tomb of St. Boniface. St. Boniface, the Apostle of the Germans, organized Christianity in many parts of Germania and his remains rest in a sarcophagus in the right wing of the Fulda Dom. His grave has become an important place of pilgrimage. Boniface’s disciple Sturmius was the founder of Fulda in 742. Families can enjoy the beauty of this church by attending one of the many organ concerts that take place at the cathedral throughout the year, especially during Christmastime.
2. Coffee and cake in one of the most noteworthy Baroque districts of Germany
Second, Kaffee und Kuchen is a widespread German tradition that adults and kids can experience in charming Old Town Fulda. Delicious cakes, tarts and sweetbreads are enjoyed by locals and tourists in many of the cafés around town. Even though this tradition might challenge your waistline, it is a wonderful way to appreciate the beauty of Fulda’s Baroque architecture and spend some quality time with family and friends.
My personal recommendation is to visit Café Thiele, the oldest café in Fulda, founded in 1892 and award-winning with many of its cake recipes renowned worldwide. Isn’t it great to combine indulgent eating with history?
3. Where royalty and nature merge into one
Also noteworthy, if you’re there in the spring, be sure to catch the Princely Garden Festival. For four days every spring, the castle Schloss Fasanerie opens its gardens, barns, and courtyards to the public for the Princely Garden Festival. During this huge open-air market, garden enthusiasts from around Europe enjoy interesting programs and exhibitions of the most beautiful arrangement of flowers and plants in the country.
Families have the option to delight themselves with scrumptious food, organic fresh juices, coffee, and why not a crisp glass of renowned Riesling from the region. There is also a wide selection of traditional German food staples to try while surrounded by impressive views of the palace.
4. Get your Carnival costumes ready
Fulda is a real carnival paradise with the largest Carnival Parade in the state of Hesse. Starting at exactly 13:33 (1:33 pm) on Fat Monday more than 4,000 carnival fans turn the city center into a big party area. People wear costumes, drink, eat and shout “Föllsch Foll hinein” to the rhythm of drums and trumpets. This is an event that adults and children enjoy many different activities planned to entertain little ones and grownups alike.
5. Dare to get lost inside of a Gigantic Human Heart
Fulda is home to the Children’s Academy, a museum with an intriguing combination of objects taken from the fields of science, technology, art, and culture. The highlight of the Children’s Academy is the walk-through heart where kids can walk through the four heart chambers to learn about the anatomy of this vital organ. The 36-square-meters heart with a height of 5 meters, is unique in Europe.
6. Get close to a historical Gap
Just east of the West German town of Fulda, near the Inter-German Border, is the Fulda Gap. This was one of the most heavily armed places on Earth. The Fulda Gap refers to the local valleys, rolling hills, and nearby mountains that once represented a strategic military route to the important city of Frankfurt.
Today the Point Alpha Memorial located in the Fulda Gap is a wonderful place to learn about the Cold War, see antique US Military armory and vehicles and experience what it was to live in a country divided by political barriers.
Particularly, my children and I enjoy the Path of Hope, a kilometer-and-a-half long stretch decorated with fourteen monumental sculptures. The ambiance of the path invites one to reflect on how this border not only divided Germany but Europe and the entire world.
7. Exciting adventure in the tallest mountain of Hesse
A 30-minute drive from Fulda will take you to Wasserkuppe, the tallest mountain of Hesse. There, families have the chance to practice different outdoors activities such as climbing, hiking, and skiing. The highlight of this place is the alpine roller coaster, a ride that will take you all the way down into the valley at speeds up to 25mph. The alpine roller coaster promises fun and action for the whole family. After this adventurous ride, have a cup of hot cocoa and a slice of delicious cake at the Café Peterchens Mondfahrt for a great end to your day.
8. A chilly visit to Germany’s oldest Holy Sepulchre
St. Michael’s Church in Fulda’s cathedral’s charming neighbor. It is a small burial chapel built in the Carolingian architectural style in the years 820-822.
Visiting this place is to step back in time to a period of austerity and simplicity. From the rotunda and crypt to the towers and conical roof, St. Michael’s Church is considered to be the oldest holy sepulcher of Germany. It served as a burial place to Fulda monastery which was one of the prominent cultural centers of the early Middle Ages.
The small size of the chapel allows families to explore the crypt (spooky) and the cross-shaped rotunda, all of these designed to look similar to the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Outside of the church is a commemorative memorial plaque to remember the dead of Second World War.
9. Time to toot your Flute
Enjoy an afternoon filled with music at the Mollenhauer Flute Museum. At the museum, you can learn the history of the flute and recorder, visit the workshop and play different instruments. Even more, children are able to work on a “build your own flute/recorder” project. This is an awesome hands-on program for school-aged kiddos.
Most importantly, the Mollenhauer Museum has a policy that just allows fifteen a day to experience the exhibitions. This means less crowded corners and zero loud large groups to distract your family from all the things this place has to offer. Please consider that visits are by appointment only.
10. Be part of flying history
The mountain Wasserkuppe is the home base for one of the most flourishing aircraft glider schools of the world. Actually, it was the first glider academy to ever be established. Noteworthy is the presence of pilot pioneers such as Otto Lilienthal, Alexander Lippisch and Willy Messerschmitt at the Glider School.
The first recorded glider flight from the peak was in 1911, but the interest in gliding only really took off after the Treaty of Versailles in 1918 banned the use and production of aircraft with engines in Germany. In 1922, Arthur Martens made history when he became the first glider pilot in the world to use a mountain updraft to stay up in the air. Shortly after this success, he founded the world’s first glider school atop the Wasserkuppe.
The nearby German Glider Museum (Deutsches Segelflugmuseum) is excellent, even if you’re not interested in aviation history.
In conclusion, what do you think? Are you already making plans to visit Fulda? I assure you this town will capture your heart with its beautiful architecture, friendly people, old-time charm and stunning nature. As an expat family moving overseas for sixteen years, we are so happy to call Fulda our new hometown.
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