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A weekend in Saale-Unstrut with Smaracuja


07.10. 2020, Nina Hüpen-Bestendonk

I am Nina Hüpen-Bestendonk from the travel blog Smaracuja from Berlin. On the occasion of the Handgemacht.Saale-Unstrut campaign I have looked around the region and tell you about my trip here.

Already from the train Saale-Unstrut surprised me: Beautiful vineyards, now and then a castle or palace and some picturesque places slowly pass by in front of the window of the Regional Express. This is my first time in the region and I had no idea what to expect. And what can I say: the name "Tuscany of the North" does not come from nowhere. For me, Saale-Unstrut offers exactly the right package for a small weekend trip full of culture, art and culinary delights, and that completely away from the tourist masses.

Friday in Naumburg: Herb Hiking and the Naumburg Cathedral

After my arrival I went from the train station directly to the Naumburg Cathedral. I strongly recommend to take a guided tour through the building - if possible with climbing the tower. You learn a lot about the stylistic means of the Naumburg Master, the historical background and the historical value of the cathedral, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

My second stop in Naumburg is the enchanting garden of the herb witch Jenny. Among other things, she offers herb walks along the Saale river, you learn a lot about the individual herbs and their benefits, how to harvest and process them best. We stay in Jenny's garden this afternoon and prepare a wild herb pesto with nettles together. So delicious!

In the evening I go to my accommodation in Weißenfels: The Parkhotel Güldene Berge, where you can also have a wonderful dinner. My insider tip: the zucchini and nettle pancakes with said wild herb pesto! 

Saturday: Culture in Weißenfels and Freyburg

I spend the first morning in Weißenfels. On a city walk I immediately fall in love with the small town on the river Saale. Already once the poet Novalis was inspired here and also for me the small colourful alleys, the partly decayed houses and faded signs are a little wonderland. Only half of the castle Neu-Augustusburg is renovated and offers an exciting contrast. From up here, one has a great view to the city. On the descent I pass a large work of art in the windows of an old empty inn, directly opposite is the escort house in which there is a nice pub today. Finally I visit the Heinrich-Schütz-House, learn a little bit about the life of the German composer and may practice composing myself.

In the afternoon I'm going to Freyburg. The small wine-growing village is mainly known for its Rotkäppchen Kellerei, but it is also well worth strolling through the alleys - the vineyards are always in sight. Above the town lies Neuenburg Castle. Here there are not only great views but also a schnapps distillery. I recommend: Passion fruit brandy.

On the terrace of the Weinberghotel Edelacker I let the day end with a wine from the region. From here you have the best sunset view of the vineyards of the region and the Unstrut valley, all the way down to Freyburg. 

Sunday: Mythen in Merseburg and recreation at the Geiseltalsee

On the last day I visit Merseburg. With its castle and cathedral, the city has two particularly historic sites that are the subject of many myths and legends about thieving ravens, hungry princesses and mysterious spells. Therefore I strongly recommend a guided tour here as well. It is also worth making a detour to the castle garden salon, where you can watch the artist Antoinette currently working on her "Altar of Europe".

Before I go back to Berlin, I make a side trip to the Geiseltalsee. Once a huge lignite mining area, it is now the largest artificial lake in Germany and a real recreation area thanks to several years of flooding. Stand-up-paddling, sailing, boat tours and staying overnight in a houseboat are just a few of the leisure activities on offer. I let the wind blow around my nose on the endless jetty until I get back on the train.

It was great in Saale-Unstrut. And one thing I know for sure: I will come back to the land of wine and stone, because there is still a lot to see.

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