Germany's Fairy-Tale Road - to See the Places That Inspired the Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales, Take the Deutsche Merchenstrasse near Frankfurt and Travel Some Four Hundred Miles North to Bremen

By gordan, lucy | The World and I, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Germany's Fairy-Tale Road - to See the Places That Inspired the Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales, Take the Deutsche Merchenstrasse near Frankfurt and Travel Some Four Hundred Miles North to Bremen


gordan, lucy, The World and I


Once upon a time, in thickly forested central Germany, there lived two brothers by the name of Grimm. The elder, Jacob Ludwig Carl, was always serious beyond his years; the younger, Wilhelm Carl, although sickly, was personable and friendly. From early childhood, they both loved tales of enchantment about generous kings and good-hearted queens, golden-haired princesses saved from disaster by stalwart princes, turreted castles and cozy cottages, wicked witches and cruel stepmothers.

Jacob was born in 1785, a year before Wilhelm, in Hanau, now a traffic- congested suburb east of Frankfurt. Their birthplace was destroyed during World War II, but in Neustedter Marktplatz there stands a larger-than-life bronze statue of the dour-faced workaholic brothers-- appropriately pondering a large book. This marks the beginning of the Deutsche Merchenstrasse, the German Fairy-Tale Road. Long before the route was officially established in 1975, I had a yearning to see the Old World settings that had inspired Jacob and Wilhelm, the fathers of the fairy tales. Last spring, at the height of the weisse spargel, or white asparagus season, my wish came true.

Along the misty banks of the Fulda and Weser Rivers, the Deutsche Merchenstrasse wends its way north from Hanau, through landscapes of gnarled oak forests, softly rolling hills, and yellow rapeseed fields, some four hundred miles to Bremen. Although it's possible to visit many of the road's sixty-four destinations by train or guided bus tours, driving is the best way to soak up the countryside's magical atmosphere and enter deeply into the German psyche. Two caveats: Don't expect to find a Disney World or a gigantic theme park, and don't let guidebooks convince you that these destinations have any actual historical documentation. Except for the Baron von Munchhausen--and, to a certain extent, the Pied Piper--these claims are as make-believe as the fairy tales themselves. Moreover, with the exception of Hameln and Bremen, the tales don't refer to a specific landscape, town, or monument. The vast majority are timeless, placeless, and universal. But these circumstances do not dampen the enthusiasm of the Merchenstrasse's one million yearly visitors.

My next stop after Hanau, on the old trade route from Frankfurt to Leipzig, was Steinau, which Jacob and Wilhelm's younger brother and illustrator, Ludwig Emil, described as "the fairy land of my childhood dreams." Their father served as a local magistrate, and the brothers spent the few happy years of their childhood here with their younger siblings.

In this romantic medieval hamlet with its half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets, I spent the first of my six nights in the footsteps of the Grimm brothers at the Weisses Ross, a simple inn where the brothers stayed almost two hundred years ago. Since innkeeper Alfred Bender only serves breakfast, he recommended that I eat at the nearby Brathehnchen Farm, where I ordered a veal shank roasted over an open fire, a delicious meal supposedly cooked according to a Grimm family recipe.

The next morning I met Burkhard Kling, a former actor and now curator of the Bruder Grimm Haus, the only Grimm family home still in existence. "First published in 1812, Children's and Household Tales was the Grimms' collection of 210 fairy tales, animal fables, rustic farces, and religious allegories. Mind you, only 40 of those are well- known today. This is the most edited book in the history of the world-- more than the Holy Bible," boomed Kling in an intimidating, baritone voice. "Millions of copies have been published in over 160 languages and dialects, from Inupiat in the Arctic to Swahili in Africa. In the United States, there are 120 editions of Grimm's Fairy Tales to choose from."

The father, Philipp Grimm, died unexpectedly when Jacob was eleven, and the family had to move out of the magistrate's official residence. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Germany's Fairy-Tale Road - to See the Places That Inspired the Grimm Brothers' Fairy Tales, Take the Deutsche Merchenstrasse near Frankfurt and Travel Some Four Hundred Miles North to Bremen
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.