Sunday is family day in Germany. Most shops and businesses close and family time, church, walks and consuming an unholy amount of food is the order of the day. We have gotten into the habit of getting out for some walking-slash-exploring on the seventh day. Last week we headed out to the spiritual and very pretty Externsteine, where I spotted some information about a little place called Horn, a small but historic town just half an hour from home. Despite this I’d never heard of it. But I’m a fan of dragging the family to places to ‘see what’s there’ ( and sometimes there’s nowt there, that’s a bit awkward) so at a Sunday- sort -of -loose- end, and despite the weather being against us,off we set.
Horn was not one of the places with nowt there. The original settlement here dates back to the 1200s although it really came into its own in the 1600s. The heart of the town is the small but impressive castle dating back to these times. Apparently the castle, and the town, made quite a name for itself for its ability to endure conflict and siege. Tough times breed tough people.
The castle may have historically wanted to keep people out, but today it invites them in. It houses a small, free museum full of exhibits relating to the history of the castle and the town that sits around it. Museums in Germany are often look-don’t-touch so the amount of hands on activities on offer in this one made for a pleasant surprise.
The items displayed are many and varied. A lady’s purse dating from the 1700s caught my eye. The reconstruction of the castle toilet left me grateful for modern-day plumbing. The husband pointed out he’s used similar facilities when on exercise. Too much information.Rather him than me.
As an added bonus ,the town was hosting a medieval themed festival complete with fire-breathing dragon. The backdrop, the music, the smell of the open fire and the beautiful costumes embellished with tartans and furs all fired up my Outlander inspired daydreams. Sadly, no handsome Frasers to be found. I suppose you can’t have everything. Mentioned this to the husband, I don’t think he was particularly impressed.
The town of Horn itself is very much what people think of when it comes to small town Germany. A wealth of half-timbered and ornately decorated buildings cluster round the Markt Square and the Old Town Hall. Most of the half timbered houses continue to be lived in as family homes and have been lovingly restored.
We didn’t get to see the town as much as would have liked as the weather declined steadily all day (heavy sleet and just a few degrees above freezing by the time we left) and the streets were lined with stalls and fairground rides as part of the festivities. The town has its own self guided walking trail that allows visitors to discover its history and attractions at leisure. The trail is marked out by a series of yellow horns painted onto the pavement. Something I’d like to return to do. On a dry day.
Horn was a pleasant Sunday surprise for us, a historic and charming town tucked away in a part of Germany that has much to offer but doesn’t shout too loudly about it. If you’ve discovered somewhere surprising lately, either on the road or close to home, I’d love to hear about it. Lets chat in the comments.
Until Next Time,