We all know that Europe is full of history and it could take 5 lifetimes to see every corner, monument, sculpture, or trail. The beauty of Europe is that this allows every journey to be a different and unique experience, there’s truly something for everyone. For the first time in my 20+ trips to Europe I had the opportunity to explore one of Europe’s cultural routes. Cultural routes were launched by the Council of Europe in 1987 and are spread throughout Europe as a way to explore Europe’s past and future regarding human rights, cultural democracy, cultural diversity and identity and more.
I flew to Stuttgart to begin the Huguenots and Waldensian Trail. This trail originally began in Italy and France as these two forms of Protestants were forced to flee their Catholic country. Heading north towards Germany and Switzerland, more than 3,000 Protestants made the journey through the Alps in extreme temperatures in order to have religious freedom. The route was approximately 1600 kilometers, but my journey was much less and focused more on the history of the past and the culture that still exists today.We began the journey in the town of Oberderdingen which is about 1.5 hours south of Stuttgart and we would continue south (in reverse of the Huguenots/Waldensians). The town of Oberderdingen was introduced to wine making by the Huguenots who brought their French wine making skills to the region. The tradition is still carried on today by the locals, so if you are in the area you will want to try out the local white wine selection.
Making our way to Pforzheim, we stopped in Ötisheim to visit the Waldensian Museum. In the museum you can follow the path that they took and you read about how they made a life in the village. With simple streets lined with A-shaped framed houses this was a typical house for the time. At the end of the street is the church- plain and simple, they did not find it necessary to adorn the churches with stained glass windows and gold. The church was a place to study the Bible.
The town of Calw was our next spot and was probably my favorite town of the tour. Quaint with a river running through it, the architecture was pristine and the entire town was bordered by the beautiful black forest.
Before approaching the Switzerland border, we went up to Hohentwiel. With views of Switzerland in the distance, we hiked to the top of the hill to visit the fortress. The hill is surrounded with vineyards and this is the path we hiked to get a feeling of what the Waldensians and Huguenots did years ago.
Traveling in much more style than those of the past, we got to use the rail system while making our way across the border into Switzerland. Always on time and comfortable, the Swiss transport system is one of the best in the world. We arrived to Schaffhausen where we were greeted with cobblestone streets, the Rhine river and of course some history of the Huguenots. Only the rich Huguenots were invited to spend some time here in Schaffhausen by their wealthy Swiss friends. Still in one of the buildings is a piece of artwork on the ceiling in which a Huegenot lived. Schaffhausen was the perfect place to end our trip on the trail.
- This post was brought to you as a result of the Visit Europe blog trip, created and managed by iambassador (http://www.iambassador.net) in partnership with the European Travel Commission. Ashley Colburn Productions maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.
- To Read More: blog.culture-routes.net; www.visiteurope.com