Aschaffenburg boats a virtually unbroken chain of historical parks and gardens, like a string of green pearls. Their origins date back to the end of the 18th century and Elector Friedrich Carl Joseph von Erthal, the Archbishop of Mainz, who chose Aschaffenburg as his secondary and later his main residence. He commissioned one of the foremost landscape gardeners of the period, Friedrich von Sckell (1750–1823), who profoundly shaped the town’s verdant heritage. Today, these oases of calm and tranquillity provide welcome leisure and recreation spaces for locals and visitors of all ages. Suitable both for short strolls and longer walks, they are home to a variety of flora and fauna and offer a range of cultural attractions.
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This park was originally an orchard, with appropriate agricultural buildings. Elector Friedrich Carl Joseph von Erthal, the Archbishop of Mainz, had the buildings renovated and extended in a neoclassical style, turning them into a model farm for promoting agricultural methods. In the 1960s, the park became the property of the Aschaffenburg municipal authority, which restored and expanded it and made some additions. Today, the Nilkheimer Hof houses the town’s parks and gardens department, while the registry office hosts weddings in the mirrored hall during the summer months. All manner of sculptures and monuments, such as a Hermes statue, an obelisk, a Sphinx, a monopteros and the stone pillars of a swing, line the path through the park. On its edge are the remains of a Roman bath from around 110 AD that were discovered in nearby Stockstadt and transferred here.
In 1775, the Elector and Archbishop of Mainz commissioned Friedrich Ludwig Sckell to transform this former royal game park into a English landscape park – one of the first in Germany to adopt this new style. More than 20 kilometres of walking trails wind their way through a variety of scenic settings that incorporate meadows, woods and lakes, with a number of architectural features by court architect Emanuel Joseph von Herigoyen dotted throughout the 150-hectare park. The small neoclassical garden palace on the lower lake offers an unimpeded view of Johannisburg Palace. Much like when it was first created, you can enjoy the attractions of Schönbusch Park on a romantic pedalo tour on the sparkling waters of the lower lake. A maze and a playground round off the attractions for all the family. Food and drink are available at the restaurant and beer garden that date back to the early 1780s.
This idyllic link between Schönbusch Park and a bridge across the river Main was created in 1775. The tree-lined avenue, which is 2.5 kilometres long, has always been reserved for pedestrians. According to historical documents, Kleine Schönbuschallee was originally lined by 788 mulberry trees, 394 on each side. Over the course of the centuries, these were first replaced with poplars and later with robinias. Today, walkers and cyclists can wend their way below the canopies of beautiful lime trees. The avenue ends at Willigisbrücke bridge, across which you reach the other side of the river Main. Then to your right are a landing stage and a miniature golf course, while in the other direction the path takes you to Johannisburg Palace along the riverside promenade.
Starting from Flosshafen at the most southerly point of a loop in the river Main, the promenade runs downstream along the riverbank, past a miniature golf course and a boat landing stage towards Johannisburg Palace. The lawns along the Perth Inch section of the riverbank are a popular picnic spot. They are named after the Scottish city of Perth, which is twinned with Aschaffenburg. From here, the path leads across the playground and along Oberer Hofweg up to the impressive palace. Alternatively, you can use the palace steps. At Theoderichstor gate, the meadow-like scene widens to reveal a view of the ‘breakfast temple’ and the Pompeiianum. After that, the path snakes through the narrow gap between the river Main and some steep cliffs, before opening up again to a vista of the vineyard below the Roman villa.
From the riverbank we now head through the vineyard up to the Saint-Germain terrace. This public area with its beautiful flower beds is part of Johannisburg Palace Park. Decorated with fountains and sculptures, it is an ideal spot to relax and unwind. The terrace takes its name from Saint-Germain-en-Laye in France, which is twinned with Aschaffenburg.
Above the vineyard, the Pompeiianum sits in splendour overlooking the river Main. This idealised replica of a Roman villa was built by the architect Friedrich von Gärtner between 1840 and 1848 for King Ludwig I of Bavaria. Its magnificent interiors, with frescoes, floor mosaics and authentic Roman exhibits is open to the public from spring to autumn. The area around the Pompeiianum was transformed into an archetypal mediterranean landscape in the middle of the 19th century. All that remains of it today are the vineyard, the pine grove with its black pines, and the rose beds. The orange grove and the peach garden that were also planted here have been lost, but the scattered fig and almond trees, agaves and other mediterranean plants show that the area enjoys a particularly mild climate. The Seville orange grove is currently being restored to its former glory.
High above the river Main, Johannisburg Palace Park stretches from the Pompeiianum to the palace building like a verdant viewing platform. Past pergolas covered in lush vines and crossing the last remains of the former town moat, you ascend a slight elevation to reach the neoclassical ‘breakfast temple’, which provides panoramic views of the Pompeiianum, the river Main and the palace. The path takes you under a leafy pergola walkway along a section of the former town wall up to the palace terrace. The magnificent vistas of the Main river, Spessart hills, Odenwald forest and the Pompeiianum are best enjoyed from a bench in one of the alcoves that you’ll find along the way. Steps lead from the terrace up to Johannisburg Palace, one of Germany’s largest and most beautiful Renaissance buildings, which houses cultural treasures of international renown.
This long stretch of green space is a part of the original defensive moat outside Aschaffenburg’s town wall and provides a verdant link between Johannisburg Palace Park and Schöntal Park. The surviving Herstall tower is a reminder of the magnificent medieval town gate that once stood here. Herbaceous borders and shrubs are complemented by a walk-through water feature with alternating jets and fountains.
This landscaped park, now in the heart of Aschaffenburg, was established in 1780 outside the former town gates. The area to the south of the canal and town moat was designed in the style of an English park, while the northern section continued to serve as the court’s kitchen garden until the 1950s when it was replotted in the English style. Notable features in the park include Bavaria’s largest magnolia grove and the ruins of the Holy Sepulchre Church, which burned down in 1552. The remnants of the building are now perched on an island, creating a picture-perfect scene. In the eastern part of the park you’ll find the old orangery that now houses two restaurants and a beer garden, as well as the Hofgarten Kabarett comedy theatre.
The Grossmutterwiese – literally ‘the grandmother’s meadow’ – is a green space between Schöntal Park and Fasanerie Park that offers plenty of recreational and leisure options for all ages. Unlike some parks or gardens, walking and playing on the grass are positively encouraged here. A playground and a space for ball games are the perfect place for youngsters to work off some energy. A small wooden area contains an space reserved for boules players. During the summer, one of the park’s main attractions is its large play fountain, ideal for kids. Another eye-catching feature is the Ludwigsbrunnen fountain, which was moved to the Grossmutterwiese from its original site in Open Schöntal. It is a monument to King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who was responsible for the building of the Pompeiianum, among other things. From the fountain, an avenue lined with chestnut trees leads straight through Grossmutterwiese to the Greenbridge Park.
This strip of land, not much bigger than two football fields, has provided a link between Grossmutterwiese and Fasanerie Park since 2014. The ingenious design, a modern park featuring meadows and copses of trees, makes it almost impossible to tell that the structure is in fact a bridge, with walkers and cyclists unaware of the traffic and trains speeding below them. A number of herbaceous borders with seasonal displays of ornamental bulbs contain a wealth of flowers that provides welcome variety amid the shades of green that dominate Grossmutterwiese and Fasanerie Park. At the centre of the space, pergola seats offer rest and relaxation, while the sound sculptures installed here – an Aeolian harp, a humming stone and a stone telephone – are fascinating objects to explore, preferably hands-on!
This woodland park has undergone a great deal of changes over the centuries since its creation in 1779, but is now kept as close to nature as possible. Covering more than 50 hectares, it contains landscaped elements, such as meandering paths, a lake and a cascade. The woods are particularly delightful in spring when the anemones are in bloom. A clearing at the edge of the woods offers play and activity options for all ages. The large area has plenty of space for young children to run around to their hearts’ content, while also providing a range of fitness facilities for adults and seniors. The site is a popular spot for family picnics and children’s birthdays. The Spessart Hills Trail no. 1 starts here, and goes on to Godelsberg hill.
Godelsberg hill is located right on the doorstep of Aschaffenburg. Now covered in dense woodland, it boasts idyllic walking trails as well as stunning views across the town from the ‘Devil’s Pulpit’. The majority of its slopes used to be heavily grazed, which depleted the soil. Later on, it was used for cultivating fruit and wine. The landscape finally began to change in the mid-19th century, when a local man, Adam Kipp, began to protect the vegetation and reforest the hillsides. Around 1839, he built a little vineyard house, which looked like a castle ruin, from loose stones collected around the hill. It became known as Kippenburg castle. At Godelsberg hill, Aschaffenburg’s historical band of green spaces merges seamlessly into the open natural landscape of the Spessart hills.