Schriesheim is a quiet town that sits on the Bergstrasse ("Mountain Street"), a road that follows the mountains of the east bank of the Rhein River. Schriesheim is about a fifteen minute drive north of Heidelberg, and is one of several towns that nestle against the hillsides as you drive north. However, Schriesheim can be clearly identified because of the prominent Strahlenburg castle ruins sitting among the vineyards above it.
I've been to Schriesheim twice, and made the time on my second visit to climb up to Strahlenburg for the view. It was definitely a climb! The vineyards sit at a ten-degree angle and its over a hundred meters above the town. I came up from the south, through the vineyards themselves, scaling uneven rocky staircases that wound their way to a wide walking path across the mountain face. It was from that path that I took the first photo -- showing the ruins clearly.
From there, the ruins looked like a hollowed out shell, but actually it has been rebuilt on the inside to a classy restaurant and dining hall. And it was very popular -- a number of people were on the open patio in the center of the castle having a late lunch or a drink. Sound stages were present to host outdoor concerts or other functions as well. For a mere 50 Euro cents, you can climb the tower to the top and get great views of the area, like in the second photo. At the bottom, you can see the front face of the castle that is a free-standing wall (though now reinforced).
Getting up the tower was really fun (I'm being facetious). It was one of the most difficult climbs I've ever done. Instead of climbing in circular fashion around the outside wall, these flights of stairs were straight, requiring you to climb ten steps to a new landing, then come around for the next. The flights were short, meaning that the next flight created a low ceiling (banged my head twice), and they were made of well-worn wood that seemed to give way. The access to the tower was a trap door. Ah, but as you see from the photograph, it was worth it!
I returned down to the town from the north (right side of the second photo). It was then I realized how half of Schriesheim was tucked away, following a mountain stream that cut into the mountainside, and how the Strahlenburg sat on the corner and overwatched both directions. The road to the bottom was extremely windy and steep, and filled with cars (because Strahlenburg did not have a true parking lot).
At the bottom, the mountain stream bisects the main road, each part going one way. I noted how the stream was channeled and run over watermills. The town web site indicated that Schriesheim used to have over a dozen watermills along the old town, but only a couple remain.
The watermills would have been in the old town, which is simple and charming. The fourth photo shows the tiny town square with its prominent café and restaurant and the steeple of one of the town's two churches in the background. A few of the old stone guesthouses remain standing, scattered among the newer residences. It was clear that Schriesheim has grown considerably in the past decades and sprawled southward along the hills.
Schriesheim also celebrates its ancient heritage and its prominence as a wine town. Old ruins from pre-medieval times are scattered about, many concentrated around the Strahlenburger School that sits directly below the castle. Meanwhile, the local Schriesheimer wines are popular and well advertised.
Schriesheim seemed like a great little place to live, quiet but with quick access to major roads leading the Heidelberg and Mannheim, but far enough away from the latter to avoid the industrial sprawl there. Having the marvelous Strahlenburg Castle and the vineyards above it certainly helped.
Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2001 Tom Galvin