rediscovering a piece of our homeland

The Southern Palatinate

People often associate the Southern Palatinate with endless forest landscapes, mythical creatures and dreamy castle ruins. Jutta, Thomas and René were out and about in their home region and decided to put these clichés to the test. Join them on the Three-Castle Trail on the Southern Wine Route.

By Jutta Reiser & Thomas Latzel

When you first think of the Southern Palatinate, you often think – and with good reason – in pictures of all the clichés that surround it.

What first comes to mind are the “Elwetritsche”, amusing legendary hybrid creatures made up of chickens, ducks, goblins and elves that play practical jokes on any unsuspecting newcomers, be it in the forest or vineyards. Then it’s the forest as it is the largest continuous forest area in Europe – and in fact the uninterrupted views towards the west from one of the Palatinate castle ruins is really impressive as all you can see are the forest, hills and castles. 

At the edge of the Haardt wooded hills, where the vineyards meet the Palatinate Forest, there are numerous wine growers and wine festivals whereby the “Schoppe”, the mandatory Riesling spritzer traditionally served in a “Dubbeglas” (a pint glass typical of the region) is the measure of all things if thirsty in the Palatinate.

Moreover, there is a network of rambling trails that is so diverse that it is impossible to get bored. And no one has to go thirsty or hungry as one of the lovely huts, usually run by volunteers, will appear what feels like every half hour, where the obligatory stuffed pig’s stomach and liver dumplings are elevated to works of art and can be enjoyed amidst the sociable locals – “no one sits alone here”.

The Palatinates themselves will tell you, “It’s not the journey that’s the destination here – it’s the hut!”

For us, the most important hiking and cycling destinations are the castles and ruins in the Wasgau hill range. The pictures here were made on the Three-Castle Trail on the Southern Wine Route. This well-signed trail goes past the ruined castles of Neuscharfeneck, Ramburg and Meistersel in the Dernbach valley. But so many more are scattered throughout the forest, each one worthy of a day trip – even though the huts are closed for now, we get to stay at home in the Palatinate and hike around here for a change.

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