More than 15 million years ago, a huge asteroid hit the earth and left behind one of the largest asteroid craters in the world: the Nördlinger Ries. A journey by train to millions of years old nature and medieval cities.
It must have been a tremendous bang that shook Bavaria many millions of years ago. At breakneck speed, an asteroid struck where the city of Nördlingen is located today, creating a huge crater: the Nördlinger Ries. Travel by train in a relaxed and inexpensive way to explore the Ries crater and the picturesque surroundings. At the train station Nördlingen starts your trip to the probably best source of information about the asteroid impact in the Nördlinger Ries.
From the station building, it is just a 15-minute walk to the RiesKraterMuseum, located in the historic old town of Nördlingen. Walk a short distance along Bürgermeister-Reiger-Straße and then turn right into Krippenweg until you reach the medieval city wall via a path. Now the path leads to the right until you reach the imposing Deininger Tor.
From the town gate, the path now leads straight into the charming old town with its lively market square. Now you have to stay strong so that you don't get carried away with any shopping sprees while walking along Nördlingen's shopping mile. Once more to the right and left and you are standing in front of a medieval barn building in which - spread over six rooms - the Ries event is depicted.
In the interestingly designed RiesKraterMuseum you will learn all the important data and facts about the asteroid impact at that time. With the help of numerous and partly rare exhibits as well as exciting videos, the phenomenon is explained vividly for adults and children. In addition, the museum, which is open in summer and winter, offers another highlight. A small moonstone from the legendary Apollo mission is on display here. What does the ream have to do with the moon? You can find out in the museum, too, of course! Guided tours can be booked on request.
For an absolutely delicious lunch and to strengthen yourself for the rest of the day, make a detour to the Schlössle Restaurant. Just a stone's throw from the RiesKraterMuseum, outside the Baldinger Tor, lies the beautiful manor house that awaits you with a cozy Wirtsstube. Culinary you have the choice between regional and Mediterranean cuisine. How about a typical Swabian Flädle soup as a starter and Spanish-inspired tapas as a main course? For dessert, an oven-fresh apple strudel still has to find its way into your belly.
Afterwards, some exercise will certainly do you good. Strengthened, we head away from the hustle and bustle of Nördlingen's old town to the Marienhöhe recreation area. Up there, numerous hiking trails begin that lead through the Ries region.
The almost 19 km long but beautiful Schäferweg circular hike also starts at the Marienhöhe. Along traditional paths of wandering shepherds, numerous event boards inform about the typical natural areas of the Nördlinger Ries. Even today, the name-giving flocks of sheep and goats ensure that the hilly, ries-typical juniper heaths are preserved.
Thanks to the good hiking trails off the road and the mostly level route, the theme trail can be walked all year round. Along the way you will repeatedly encounter geological features of the meteorite crater, explore the Stone Age Ofneth caves and discover Roman finds. Of course, the hike on the Schäferweg also offers magnificent views over the Ries crater. There is no refreshment stop during the loop, so remember to take enough water and some provisions with you.
Five hours of hiking is too long for you? Or you have more time left over that you would like to spend exploring the Ries region? Then don't miss the nearby town of Harburg with its castle of the same name. Conveniently, the little town can be reached from Nördlingen in just 20 minutes by train.
The defiant Harburg Castle cannot be overlooked from the train station. After all, it is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Bavaria.
The best way to explore Harburg is on a leisurely stroll. From the train station, you walk along the banks of the Wörnitz River into town to the old Stone Bridge. From there, the path leads up to the castle. Once you reach the top, you will not only be greeted by the extensive grounds themselves, but also by a great view of the village and the beautiful landscape of the Nördlinger Ries. Can you make out the crater rim?
Whether you take the train from Harburg back to Nördlingen in the evening or go directly home, treat yourself to dinner at the Italian restaurant Hertle Haus. Strengthened and with many impressions in the luggage it goes from here again back to the station and with the course home.