Bad Wimpfen is a small town just down the Neckar River from Heilbronn. It doesn't really seem to be a notable stop on the tourist map which is a little bit surprising considering how well preserved the old town is. We stopped by because it was the last weekend in August and they hold their annual Zunft Markt (craft market). It's a 600 year old tradition and the 15th century theming has been kept. We parked in the lower town (it would be hard to park in the altstadt on a non-festival day) and walked up the hill. We figured it was a good sign we were going the right direction when we came across this line of anachronisms leaving the train station.
Once you enter the city walls everything becomes cobblestone and slate and the number of right angles used in building construction decreases sharply. The altstadt sits on a hill overlooking the river valley and the Zunft Markt takes place on the highest section of it.
The Blue Tower is the city's main landmark (there's a less impressive Red Tower as well). The festival stretches between the two towers and sprawls a little ways down any connecting alleys. The emphasis is on crafts produced by the original medieval guilds in the town so there are a lot of candles, wood carvings, pottery, weaving, leatherwork, blacksmithing, etc�
There's also a kids' area on one of the side streets (pictured here). It's pretty easy to set a medieval festival in a town that doesn't seem to have changed since then. It's otherwise not unlike a Renaissance festival in the US in that all of the male children are carrying wooden swords around and all of the girls have some form of generic Princess garb on.
There is also entertainment around including some heavily costumed processions, re-enactments and the like.
This is the view from the top of Bad Wimpfen. Basically what would've been the battlements at one time.
It's not a festival without food. There's actually an entire beer garden set up along the city walls with an assortment of standard German street food. These are two of the more traditional snacks we came across. The item on the left came from a very popular Alsatian-style bakery stall. It's along the lines of a small pizza and was available with different toppings. On the right is a trdelnik which is some sort of traditional Czech or Slovak pastry. It's wrapped around a rod, cooked, rolled in sugar, spices and chopped nuts and then the rod is removed. If you haven't had one before it's worth trying next time you happen across a trdelnik stand.
We spent about two hours at the Zunft Markt. We could definitely have stayed longer but the jet lag had caught up with us by late afternoon and it was time to return to Stuttgart for a nap.
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