Schwalenberg – Where the Swallows Soar and Artists Thrive
Ainnelise Niyvold Liundbye UPDATED: 22 NOV 2020
Schwalenberg is a historic town, located a bit southwest of Hannover, on the softly sloping hills in a scenic landscape in the region of the Teutoburg Forest and Weserbergland. With its half-timbered houses and cobbled winding streets, it is like a fairy-tale medieval setting, where you could easily imagine a witch or two peeping out of the houses.
The mountainous landscape is absolutely scenic with both steeper ascents and enticing rolling meadows. A short hike will take you up to panoramic viewpoints where the entire village lies as a photographer’s dream of a picture in the valley surrounded by the gentle, green mountainside.
Where to stay around Schwalenberg? Hotel Schwalenberger Malkasten traditional guesthouse with a restaurant and own rustic pub, Landhaus Schieder countryside hotel with winter garden & restaurant, Pension Ridder in Marienmünster near the forest.
When strolling around the narrow lanes and discovering the old structures, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Schwalenberg has a rich and multifaceted history. The still existing night watchman’s walk by lantern light through the streets of Schwalenberg is for instance one of the fascinating reminiscences of the past. You will certainly be able to pick up a few anecdotes from him and get some insight into Schwalenberg’s history and rituals of a bygone era!
Wherever you turn, you will spot the traditional timbered house constructions forming the original village. There is even an old castle enchanting the place, the Burg Schwalenberg from the 1230’s, which today has been converted into a remarkable hotel and restaurant.
Other castles in the Schieder-Schwalenberg region include the Schloss Wöbbel from 1584, later turned into a baroque construction and kept within the same family for 400 years, as well as the Herlingsburg, a pre-Roman Iron Age fort dating from 200-50 B.C. Unfortunately, only a few ramparts are now left from this early settlement.
Continuing down into the troll-like forest, you will soon arrive at a mossy, massive stone wall from where a pristine source springs. This is Schwalenberg’s secret, disclosed by monks of the Cistercian Order centuries ago. They ingeniously designed and established an intricate ductwork system maintaining the right slope across the forest, such that the water could run steadily all the way down to Schwalenberg, where it springs out of a stone face on the central square. This source and the waterways were for hundreds of years absolutely crucial to the people living here.
Pin ‘Schwalenberg – Where the Swallows Soar and Artists Thrive’!
The more recent history has brought about a more cultural side of Schwalenberg.
Around 1900 the village developed into being the centre of the Schwalenberg artists’ colony. What they found so unique here in Schwalenberg was the light. It provided excellent opportunities to reproducere the picture-postcard idyllic landscape and setting, as well as the typical motives, including natural and traditional elements, on canvas and even on house walls. The town soon became a popular location for plein-air painting.
A number of impressionist painters from the larger German cities came to Schwalenberg to settle. One of the founders of the artists’ colony was a Berlin painter, Hans Bruch (1887-1913). He arrived at Schwalenberg in 1906, and shortly, the guesthouse Meyer was turned into the ‘headquarters’ of the painters’ art expression, the Künstlerklause.
Other performing artists joining the artists’ colony included Franz Edouard Rothe, Franz Born, Robert Koepke, Friedrich Eicke, Ernst Rötteken, Magnus Zeller, Elisabeth Ruest, Alfred Ullmann, Karl Henckel and Hans Licht. About 15 years now followed with a flourishing painting culture, leaving its mark inside and outside the buildings, including the house facades. This period was really Schwalenberg’s heyday!
Since the post-war years the artists have to a large extent disappeared. Only a few now came to the small German village to settle and paint. One of these was Robert Kämmerer-Rohrig, who lived here right until 1977.
As an attempt to revive the painting tradition and culture, the County of Lippe, the Cultural agency of Lippe and the town of Schieder-Schwalenberg have in recent years focused on reintroducing the cultural side of Schwalenberg with quaint galleries and a range of annual art exhibitions, including a Night of Art event.
Today, Schwalenberg still features a vast number of works by the former artists frequenting or living in the artists’ colony.
One of the interesting houses is the present-day hotel Malkasten with its own cosy, traditional Bierstube, where people come to have a draught beer and play cards at the massive, wooden plank tables. The setting here is really outstanding! Malkasten is an interesting building featuring funny, painted characters on the facade of the half-timbered house, as well as artistically decorated doors and interior.
From Schwalenberg it is obvious to make excursions to the liar Baron von Münchhausen’s town, Bodenwerder, where his fantastic stories come alive and are perpetuated in funny epic sculptures, or to the impressive Benedictine monastery Corvey, where silence dominantes and inspires immersion! The silence is only disturbed by the sound of your own footsteps on the floor.
Another option is a trip to Externsteine, situated at a lake in the Teutoburg Forest. Here you will by climbing the stairs be able to explore the strangest vertical rock formations.
You may also visit Hamelin, known for its legend about Pied Pier, the famous rat catcher luring the children with his enticing, magic pipe. There is a mechanical puppet show retelling the famous story at the Hochzeitshaus with the legendary characters going in and out of the doors at the top of the building.
Would you like to get inspiration for 3 days in Berlin? Then read Things to Do in Berlin City – What Attractions to Visit in 3 Days?
What to do in the Harz Mountains? Read When the Fabled Brocken Witches Dance in the Harz Mountains
Have you considered what you will do in the (unlikely) event of something unforeseen happening? Do you need a travel insurance? Click here to get a quote and buy your travel insurance.
Have you checked if you need a visa for your trip? Click here to check and apply for a visa.
Pin ‘Schwalenberg – Where the Swallows Soar and Artists Thrive’!
GET MORE INSPIRATION