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Golden South: From Amberg through Nabberg to the Pfreimdtal

Germany, Nürnberg
Von Jürgen Herda   auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Like a spider keeping watch over its web, Amberg is actually situated several kilometres south of the Golden Road behind its still almost complete town walls, but for the tradesmen en route, it would almost certainly have opened its gates. The detour to the residence of the Winter King is worth the trip. Upriver along the Vilstal, on which the barges carried ore to Regensburg, to Schloss Theuern the traveler will see a wealth of wonderful sights, a fascinating town, quirky facilities like a the Museum of Air, castles and some truly beautiful ancient land and river scenery.
Amberger Town Glasses- its name derives from its obvious form Town hall in Amberg.


The best view of the medieval town of Amberg with its gated town walls is from the terrace of the inn on the Mariahilfberg. The hill lies overlooking the old town with its 45,000 inhabitants and shows how the centre is split in two by the river between the Vilstor and the wonderful bridge house spanning the river, the Stadtbrille. Every year since 1634 when the plague struck Amberg the people of the town take part in a festival to seek the protection of the Franciscan monks and beg for bread and beer from the organisers. The pilgrim’s church was built between 1697 and 1711 and was based on plans by Wolfgang Dientzenhofer. The ceiling frescos are by Cosmas Damian Asam.

A very special introduction to the town is provided by the curiously named Stadtbrille (the town glasses), a wonderful bridge house spanning the Vils When you view the bridge from downriver you will see that the reflection of the double arches in the water give the town hallmark its name. The bridge is part of the town’s defenses and joins two parts of the Crown Princes Palace in which today the town council is at home. Crown Prince Ludwig III was responsible for the rebuilding of the castle in 1417, Friedrich I ordered extensions to the original fortifications and to celebrate the ‘Amberger Hochzeit’ (a historically important marriage joining two powerful families) Ludwig IV presented his son Philipp, the bridegroom, and his new daughter-in-law Margarethe, the daughter of Duke Ludwig IX with the Kemenate, the main body of the castle which still stands proud and mighty over the town today.

As you continue past the wooden covered bridge (Schiffsbrücke) you will see ahead of you north Bavaria’s largest gothic church St Martin. The previous roman church was replaced in 1421 and the huge tower stand with its feet in the dark water of the Vils.

To the right around the tower you will reach the windy town marketplace with its gothic town hall in which the local government is now seated. The long Georgenstraße with its abundance of town houses and the old-town shopping street leads directly to the Malteserplatz where the freshly refurbished Malteser-Komplex completes the picture. The 160m long building was constructed by the Jesuits at the end of the 30 Year War to protect the Catholic faith from the previously Calvinistic majority. After the union was disbanded the Maltesers used the facilities with its majestic library. After secularization the entire catalogue was transferred to the ‘Provinzialbibliothek’, (Provincial Library), which still remains today.

A little detour to Kümmersbruck
Bergbau Museum in Theuern.
The late baroque manor houses the Mining and Industry museum of East Bavaria since 1972. Displays include an industrial mill hammer, glass grinding and polishing machines and a pit mine to accompany the documented history. As well as documenting the hard life of the miners and workers there are displays of raw materials, ceramic and glass. Portnerstraße 1, Tel. +49 (0)9624 832.

The gothic church of St Georg that forms part of the facilities was rebuilt in the baroque style under the supervision of Wolfgang Dientzenhofer, and in 1923 it was once again returned to the parish.

A guided tour of the battlements and the side streets is certainly worth it. On such tours you will see the Eh’Häusl, the smallest hotel in the world. The story behind this Amberger legend, which has been immortalized by the artist Wilhelm Manfred Raumberger is as follows: a bridegroom who wished to ‘bend’ the town rules and marry without the necessary house and holdings built a roof over the courtyard between two buildings. It will cost €240 if you wish to spend the night in this most exclusive room.

In Bergsteig, the most cosmopolitan of Amberg’s districts, Walter Gropius planned and built his final work, the Glasmacherkathedrale (Glass Makers Cathedral) for Rosenthal AG in 1967. In the main body of the building is the melting oven. Kristallglasfabrik, Rosenthalstraße 12.
Amberger Delicatessen:
Rußwurmhaus: The town’s prettiest beer garden in the centre, Eichenforstgasse 14.
Café Central: Art Nouveau architecture on the marketplace and theatrical displays by the master butcher.
Schlodererbräu: A warm labyrinth of styles and décor, Rathausstraße 4.
Kupferpfandl: The best steaks ‘French style’. Herrnstraße 20.
Bruckmüller: An inn in the best musical tradition and a fitting innkeeper, Vilsstraße 4.
Drahthammer Schlössl. Hotel restaurant with a French star chef. Drahthammerstr. 30

The Kurfürstenbad is a mineral bath in Amberg that has a host of facilities and treatments available to recuperate after a day of culture. There are 7 pools, sauna, water cinema and disco for the young ones to distract them from the blisters on their feet! Kurfürstenring 2.


High above the market town of Kastl (from the Latin Castellum) the Abbey sits proud on a rock overlooking the town. The roman church has been here for over 1000 years and contains the mummy of Princess Anna, the daughter of Kaiser Ludwig of Bavaria, who was brought to her early and final resting place in the nave of the church.

The Benedictine monks influenced life in the Lauterachtal greatly. The penultimate Abbott Johannes Menger commissioned the mighty renaissance Rathaus in 1552. The second floor and the gable ends are additions from the 19th Century. Franz Weiss has collected tools and artifacts for the last 45 years and has opened his own private homeland museum (Heimatmuseum) in a barn and farmhouse dating from the 14th Century, Utzenhoferstraße 1A, tel. +49 (0)9625 911 73.

‘Jedem Mann ein Ei, dem braven Schweppermann aber zwei’ pronounces the King Ludwig of Bavaria in the Schweppermannspielen which take place every five years in the courtyard of the Klosterburg. It is a theatre piece celebrating Schweppermann the brave, a successful general who fought many battle in the king’s name, and refers to the king’s promise of an egg to every man, but of two to the brave leader of his forces. (in 2013).


In the nature park of the Oberpfälzer Wald (forests of the Upper Pfalz) the town of Nabburg has bent and twisted itself over a hillside along the banks of the river Naab. The ancient town had its heyday under the Diepoldinger beginning around 1100 AD, was transferred to the hands of the Dukes of Sulzbach, still later to the Wittelsbachers, which spurred the town on to increase and better its defenses, leading to the successful resistance of a Hussite attack in 1433.

A rather different way to discover the town is on a guided tour with the Venetian merchant ( The guide leads the tour describing his journey to Prague in 1536 through the Upper Pfalz.

The historic visitor entered the town through the Mähntor, a square four-storey tower with a tin roof and a pointed arched door. The stork nest on top of the Friedhofskirche St Georg (the cemetery church) in the lower town was documented by Merian, one of the first writers of travel guides in 1644.

The house once belonging to the artist and architect Karl Schmidt (1891-1971) is a real eye-catcher with its frescos added by the owner (am Oberen Markt 4) to celebrate the town’s 1000 year jubilee in 1930.

The museum contains many of the artist’s works and a café.

The impressive Rathaus (town hall) on the Oberen Markt 16 from 1417 was added to in 1580 giving it its distinctive renaissance façade with portal, stairs and balcony. It has been home to the communal council since it was renovated between 1995 and 1998. The gothic church St Johannes Baptist from the 14th Century lost its second tower in a lightning strike in 1536.

The square powder tower that allows a far-reaching view to the north is part of the town defenses. In the castle courtyard stands the Kapelle St Laurentius from the 15th Century. In the grounds of the original castle, which was the documented residence of King Heinrich the Finkler in 929, one can still see the contours of the Pflegschloss within an extension from 1750.

Beside the Obertor (Upper Gate) there is the tourist information point for the Upper Palatinate Forest. Im Zehentstadel, Obertor 3A, the town museum has a display showing the cultural history in the section ‘Von Menschen und ihrer Stadt’ (The people and their town).

Medieval Market
Marckt & Gaudium z’Nappurch is a festival that has really been drawn into the hearts of the residents of Nabburg. The bustling life with craftsmen, traders and the sounds and sights of the Middle Ages has become part of town life and is visited by tens of thousands of interested spectators and participants. The festival is every two years, the next appointment being 17-18th July 2010. The streets fill with visitors and residents who have had costumes made or the event. Information line tel. +49 (0)9433 18 26

Oberpfälzer Freilandmuseum

You won’t find any plastic props here in the open-air museum, but life and everything that makes it smell, taste, and feel the way it does. In the grounds of the museum in Neusath-Perschen there are several different styles of village life shown and worked as they were in the days of yore in the surrounding area and in the diverse regional building styles of through the ages. There are courses, a child’s holiday program and theatre performances that bring the farmhouses, barns and fields to life. Typical hearty food can be ordered at eth guesthouse ‘Beim Wirt’. Tel. +49 (0)9433 244 20, Neusath 200, Nabburg.

Oberpfälzer Wald and the Böhmerwald

The characteristics of the landscape that formed the regions and peoples
of the Upper Pfalz and Bohemia politically and geographically are no longer decisive in drawing its borders. The nationalists of the last century split Bohemia into Upper Pfalz, Bavaria, Böhmerwald (Bohemian forest region) and the Mühlviertel. But now that the borders have fallen again the region is reaching out to its ancient neighbours and the region is finding its combined identity once again. The Upper Pfalz area with its many forests, rolling hills and pretty valleys is trying to establish itself as natural tourist hotspot. In the Naabtal (Naab Valey) and the Bohemian forests there are many activities available, from fishing to 24hr hikes, from golf to biking, castle tours and town trips, from festival plays to abbey hotels, adventure trails and water worlds all over the Upper Pfalz.

More information is available at

The landscape of the Grimmertal that runs along the Schwärzerbach (Schwärzer River) is a perfect introduction to the Böhmerwald. Just around the corner lies Rottendorf, the most beautiful town in the Upper Pfalz, or at least it was crowned so in 1980. The mighty stone ossuary from the 9th Century is testament to the age of the parish. The pieta cut from sandstone is considered to be among the best examples of gothic stonework.


In Pfreimd on the Preimd (the name of the town and the river!) in the Naabtal the influence of Franz Kafka becomes evident for the first time. In the town that gained its charter in 1372 one can view the moated castle of the Duke of Leuchtenberg although it doesn’t exist any more! In the Benefiziatenhaus (Am Schlosshof 1) one can enter the ‘Schloss Pfreimd Document’, late gothic vaulted rooms containing the remains of the palace walls. Further details of this archaeological skeleton have been added in graphics and text passages.

The original gothic building of Maria Himmelfahrt, based on earlier long churches built by the Jesuits such as St Ignatius in Landshut is probably the earliest example of this type in the Upper Pfalz. The main body of the church, which was later refurbished in the baroque period, with its bright white interior is one of the most important works of Johann Schmuzer, a member of the Wessobrunner School of stucco masters.

Pfreimd’s Golden Treasures
Near the town hall stood an old girls school (built 1856) where during renovations in 1906 a shining discovery was made. The Preimder Goldschatz was a huge chest full of golden cups, amulets, goblets, chains and rings and had belonged to the Duke of Leuchtenberg and Chancellor Dr Johann Federl. It shows how mighty and rich the town of Pfreimd was prior to the 30 Years War, but it is sadly only on display in a Hamburg museum.

The renovated Turmmaurerturm (Tower Builder Tower) dating from 14th Century is the oldest building in the town. The entrance portal of the Klosterkirche (abbey church) with its coats of arms above the door from the Badische and the Leuchtenbergische families also contains a foundation stone MDVIIC (1593). Since the modernization of the old Franciscan monastery it houses the priests and nuns of the Indian Vinzenz Congregation.

On the banks of the Pfreimd the cemetery chapel (Friedshofkirche) St Sigismund which was consecrated in 1616 reminds us of the Bohemian Sigismund cult which had been introduced by Charles IV. The Pilgrimage church of St Barbara on the Eixlberg was built around a much older chapel in 1702.

Bike Tour from Pfreimdtal to Tillyschanz

A traveler on horseback in medieval Pfreimdtal (Pfreimd valley) would be moving around the same speed as a leisurely bike ride would take us today, so along this 86km trail you will be able to take in the surrounding landscape, rivers, castles high above and surrounding villages at a leisurely pace and you’d be sure you missed nothing. The starting point of the trail is the fictive Schloss der Grafen Leuchtenberg von on the Schlossplatz in Pfreimd. This journey into the past begins by turning right into the Tannesberger Straße onto the St2157 and riding c.4.6km to Burg Stein atop a hill overlooking the village where the ruins of this medieval castle still stand. It was partially destroyed by fire in the 20th Century. The Schloss Stein in the village itself was the home of the lord and knight of the land. The castle chapel St Matthäus was built in the 18ht Century.
Pan-European Bike Trail from Paris to Prague.
If you got the bug on your mini bike tour of the area then you can take on a real challenge by trying the 1600km Pan-European Bike Trail. It was opened in 2007 and from here you could ride to the West to Paris or to the East to Prague. In the villages around Neustadt/Waldnaab an old railway track was converted for the purpose, which in turn sparked the Czechs to continue the route through their country all the way to Prague. The section of the trail between Nuremberg and Sulzbach-Rosenberg follows the existing Fünf-Flüsse-Radweg (Five River Bike Trail) for c. 65km. The symbol of the blue wavy line will guide you along the route. Beyond Sulzbach follow the Radweg Goldene Straße (The Golden Road Bike Trail) for 32km through Gebenbach and Hirschau to Schnaittenbach. From Schnaittenbach the bikers are then led onto the Ehenbach Radweg (bike trail) and then the Naabtal Radweg for c.9.5km which leads directly into the Waldnaabtal Radweg. Details are available under

From Gnötzendorf we ride 4.2km along the river Pfreimd to the town of Taunitz. The castle is beautifully situated overlooking the river and is worthy of any work of art. The festival play that takes place here remembers Friedrich the Beautiful, who was held captive here from 1322-1325 by Ludwig of Bavaria after a battle. The Pope had to step in and ordered his release, upon which Friedrich ordered the building of a chapel of reconciliation, the Versöhnungskapelle. Now the grounds of the chapel are host to the local youth hostel.

The route continues through Bierlhof to Tännesberg which we ideally you should try to reach on the fourth weekend in July. The horse procession of the St Jodok-Ritt is quite spectacular, a pilgrimage for riders and their charges to the church of St Jodok. On the Schlossberg there are remains of the old castle and there is a wonderful crucifix at the viewing point.

If you still have the energy you can visit the parish of Kleinschwand where you will find Bavaria’s largest ropes course. Down at the water’s edge there is the Jansen’s hydropower pumping house.

The next station on the route is deep in the Upper Pfalz forest and rather harder to reach. Past the Schlossberg towards the NEW 35 after 7.8km you will arrive at the 735m high Wildenstein or Wildstein. On the plateau hidden deep in the forest are the ruins of a tower that was once formed part of a larger defense construction dating from 11th Century.

The route continues on towards the border through the towns of Pullenried and Schwand in the region known as the Schönseer Land. Once the industrial ironworks and hammers littered the area, and a goldmine on the 874m high Reichenstein provided the wealth these communities enjoyed for many years. After 11.1km you will reach the town of Schönsee. In the Jagdmuseum there is lace exhibition which is worth a visit. In the old communal brewery the Bavarian-Bohemian Kulturzentrum (culture centre) there are regular exhibitions, readings and talks about cross-border themes.

After 8.9km on the pretty road through Lindau we arrive in Eslarn, a perfect place to rest, where viewings of the co-op brewery (Kommunbrauhaus), Schlossbergkeller or the Zoiglsturm are on offer or why not visit the classic car or doll museum. On sunny days the Atzmannsee is a very popular destination with its large meadow and the large lake. Entrance is free.
Food and Drink
Zoigl-Stub’n: Tillystr 4, Eslarn, tel. +49 (0)9653 13 55. Hearty platters, Zoigl and music.
Das Landbau: Friedrichstraße 1, Trausnitz, tel. +49 (0)9665 321. Terrace at the castle. Varied menu.
Tannenhof: Marktplatz 14, Tannesberg. Tel. +49 (0)9655 337. Pretty old courtyard with food and Bavarian music.
Restaurant Weiherblasch: Vordere Lindau 2 1/2 Schönsee. Tel. +49 (0)9674 81 69. In the old Lindau Mill, and an open kitchen visible from the restaurant. Wed-Fri 5pm-12pm Sat and Sun 11.30am-12pm.
In the Wildpark am Stückberg (nature park) there are red deer, fallow deer and other animals protected in their natural habitat. A rarity here are the Mufflons, a type of European wild sheep. In the bird park you can see mandarin ducks, among others and a total of over 50 different breeds of bird from 5 continents.

After 4.4km eastwards on the route of the same name you will reach the Tillyschanz. This defense system was built during the 30 Years War by Johann t’Serclaes von Tilly. One of the routes on the St James’ Way, an ancient pilgrimage route leading all the way to Galicia, passes these ancient ruins. Back through Eslarn and Putzenreich we ride 13.8 km to Markt Moosbach with its baroque church and large spa. 1.6 km to the west is Burgtreswitz with its castle which was destroyed and rebuilt around 1634. It now houses the information service for the Oberpfälzer Wald. 3.7km further down the road is Böhmischbruck with its parish church Maria Himmelfahrt from the 18th Century. 3.3km southeast of here is Etzgersrieth with its beautiful old brick houses. Through Kleinschwand we pass several huge natural granite monuments, such as the Steinhügel or the Franzosenfelsen, and after 5.4km we reach Döllnitz. On the outskirts of Solids, 4.6 km southwest it is worth taking a minute to gather your thoughts in the yellow pilgrimage church (Wallfahrtskirche der Gottesmutter und der 14 Heiligen ). The church was burnt to the ground in 1872 after being struck by lightning and was rebuilt five years later. 2.9 km back in the direction of the starting point of our tour we reach Weihern where the Eichelbach (Eichel River) was collected in several pools for breeding fish. The final 4.6km are the last leg of the journey leading back to Pfreimd.
Pfreimd’s ‘Wilder Mann’
All important guests who visited the town have spent the night here since the 17th Century. The legend says King Matthew rested his head here on his journey to the coronation from Prague to Frankfurt. Since then Alfons Göppel, Bavaria’s long-serving minister, Magda Schneider (Romy’s mother) and Bibi Johns have followed his lead. Today the night costs €33 per person per night in a double room. Marktplatz 2, 92536 Pfreimd. Tel. +49 (0)9606 923 99 90.

This Article is part of the tour "The Golden Road"


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