An Epic Poem set in Stone
Art, history, and fiction are inseparably combined along the Nibelungensteig (Nibelung Hiking Trail) near Bürgstadt. As of recently, visitors of this long-distance trail can not only follow historic traces, but at the same time admire numerous sandstone sculptures, which seem to have sprouted up directly from the sagas around dragon slayer Siegfried.
If you enjoy hiking on the hills above Bürgstadt, you will walk into vestiges of the past. Hiking guide Josef Eck shows everyone interested the remains of the ring fort once erected by the celts. “As far back as 500 years ago, men settled here“, he says.
The ruin of the Centgrafen Chapel dates to the 17th century. Being situated among mighty beech and oak trees, it reminds the observer of Kaspar David Friedrich’s „Abbey in the Oakwood“. At the wayside one finds millstones, a sarcophagus blank, and so-called Heunesäulen (Heune-Pillars). “These are relicts from red sandstone mining during the Middle Ages“, explains Eck.
Since May 2020, nine prominent sandstone sculptures have been reinforcing the memento of the Middle Age epos. Besides some very important characters, they also remodel showplaces, objects, and events; for instance, the fight between Siegfried and the dragon Fáfnir. Information panels provide explanations for all embodiments. Alberich, the Dwarf, was designed with a beard and a hammer in his hands; Brynhild, the Queen, can unmistakably be spotted when looking at a woman armed with a spear; if you are searching for the Nibelung treasure, well, at least you can find a stone version here.
Josef Eck is one of the initiators from a local branch of the Odenwald Club to get this project going, animated by a dream combining historic relicts with stories around the dragon slayer. “Our idea was to involve students when creating sandstone sculptures according to the Nibelung Saga, and then to erect them along the Nibelungensteig near Bürgstadt.” The youth group itself came up with the concept of an educational youth trail and the motto „History and Imagination – behold – acknowledge – appreciate“.
The masterpieces were handmade by the 10th grade of Lower Secondary Schools in Miltenberg and Bürgstadt, under the direction of Alexander Schwarz. “It was very important to me, to support the students without restricting their artistic license“, explains the sculptor-master. „Every once in a while, I offered a helping hand, but the students carried out the tasks by themselves.“
Plenty of scenic views along the trail enhance the hiker with stunning views onto the Main River and its neighboring regions.
Fall, with its radiant colors, adds an almost magic aura to the sculptures. Even the glowering Hagen of Tronje seems to brighten up a bit. Eck shares a very special tale about him: “Possibly, he crossed a ford close to Bürgstadt, transporting wine barrels and luring Siegfried into a trap.” Is this true, we wonder? The sculpture of Hagen remains quiet, looking stonily.
The Educational Path and Youth Trail Bürgstadt shares about 4km/2.5mi with the certified premium hiking tour “Nibelungen Steig”. Hikers can meet the main characters of the Nibelung Saga here.
Siegfried – Fighting with the dragon whose blood will make Siegfried nearly invulnerable.
Alberich the Dwarf – Guarding the treasure of the Nibelungs
Treasure chest – Filled with the Nibelungs’ hoard
Magic Cloak – Which is said to make you invisible
Kriemhild – The king’s beautiful daughter and Siegfried’s spouse
Gunther – King and Kriemhild’s oldest brother siehe auch deutscher Text
Brynhild – The proud, Icelandic queen, married to Gunther because of Siegfried’s ruse
The Palace of Worms – Royal residence to the Burgundians and central point of the Nibelung Saga
Hagen of Tronje – grim but devoted vassal to Gunther, later the murderer of Siegfried
Text: Philipp Schaab
Translation: Petra Neubert
Length: 130 km / 81.25 mi
Duration: 7 to 9 days, divided into daily legs
Trail route: Long-distance path from Zwingenberg a.d. Bergstraße to Freudenberg a. Main
Recommended for Dining and Accommodation:
Small but excellent bites complementing assorted wines from Churfranken
Tel. 09371-948 86 79