What did panniers, beehives, fish traps and prams once have in common? That's right - they were all woven from willow rods in the past. Nature provides the material free of charge, and it is constantly growing back. The town of Lichtenfels, which can call itself the "German Basket Town", has a long tradition of basket-making. Here you can discover one of the largest baskets and the smallest basket in the world.
A 14-kilometre-long "Path of Wickerwork Culture" connects Lichtenfels with the basket museum in the basket-making community of Michelau. This adventure trail, which runs along the Main for a nice stretch, tells the story of the basket-making craft on the Obermain at 23 stations with information boards. Follow the signs "black circle on white background" and go on an exciting journey through time of this ancient craft!
A hiking tour for nature lovers, culture lovers and connoisseurs
Start and end station
12 km / 5 Stunden
Our tip: Please make sure to check your train connection and the expected capacity before you start your journey.
Tour starts on
With the construction of the railway line from 1846, hundreds of basket makers from the surrounding area came to Lichtenfels on Saturdays and brought their basketry to the merchants, who then exported it all over the world. Many merchants settled in the town because the basketry trade was once lucrative and experienced its heyday here in the second half of the 19th century. A few factories and villas in the town still bear witness to this period. You can already see that you have got off the train in the wicker town at the station: here you are greeted by the wickerwork object "Das Flechttor" (The Wicker Gate). Time and again you will come across interesting wickerwork sculptures in the town centre, including many fairytale figures. Artists creatively combine traditional craftsmanship and modern design in their works.
Bahnhofstraße and Innere Bamberger Straße lead you directly to Lichtenfels market square.
Lichtenfels market square with historic town hall
The two-storey town hall, originally a late medieval half-timbered building, was rebuilt from 1740 to 1745 according to plans by Justus Heinrich Dientzenhofer as a Baroque plaster building with many mansards under a strikingly high roof. In front of the building stands the world's largest woven gift basket, which is planted with colourful flowers in the warm season.
Every year on the third weekend in September, the famous basket market with a large entertainment programme takes place on the market square and in the city centre. During this international wickerwork culture festival, wickerwork craftsmen from all over Europe show their skills.
It is only a few steps to the city palace with its exhibitions, which towers over the roofs of the old town with its striking architecture and colour scheme.
City Palace Lichtenfels
Built in 1555, the castle served, depending on the owner, sometimes as a nobleman's residence or as prince-bishop's quarters, later as a granary, wine store, drying room for herbs and warehouse for basketry. In 1970, the town of Lichtenfels acquired the property and had it extensively restored. Today, the town castle is a meeting place for culture, conferences and events. The historic ballroom for up to 220 people can also be rented for weddings and other private celebrations.
Since 2023, the City Palace has housed the Municipal Collections. Here, those interested can find out about the beer and brewery history of the town of Lichtenfels and railway history, as well as admire the "Schney porcelain" from the porcelain factory of the village of Schney. The exhibition of willow costumes is very impressive. In addition, there are regular special exhibitions, especially on the subject of wickerwork culture.
The Red Tower stands next to the city palace. It is the last of the former five defence towers of the medieval ring wall around the city. Look up in the Stadtknechtsgasse: Rapunzel lets down her braided hair from a house roof next to the castle ... She is one of several braided figures in the town created by the willow artist Irmgard Wissing. Among them are other fairytale figures such as the Sterntaler girl, the Gänseliesel as well as Hans in Luck.
Then walk down an alley towards the church square and you will pass the Upper Gate Tower, a landmark of the town.
Upper Gate Tower Lichtenfels
The Upper Gate Tower, also known as the Kronacher Gate Tower, the Pfeifer and Pfeuffert Tower and the Wart Tower, has been a dominant feature of the townscape for centuries. It is one of the oldest buildings in Lichtenfels, even if the exact year of construction cannot be proven. Closed for a long time for safety reasons, the tower is now open to the public again after extensive renovation work. Guests can view a collection of Jurassic fossils with numerous fossils such as ammonites, nautilids and belemnites.
Those who dare to climb to the top level of the 41-metre-high gate tower are rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic view over Lichtenfels and the surrounding area.
Then follow Kronacher Straße. Here you will pass the vocational school for wickerwork design, the only one of its kind in Germany. At Krappenrother Straße, the bridge takes you over the tracks and to the Alte Reichsstraße. Now you cycle a wonderful stretch along the river and fields on the Main cycle path to Michelau. On the left, Bahnhofstraße takes you across the Main into the town centre. The next highlight of the art of wickerwork awaits you in Bismarckstraße: the Basketry Museum.
German Wicker Museum Michelau i. OFr.
Since 1934, treasures of the art of basketry have been on display in the Basketry Museum. In the former home and business premises of an important Michelau basketmaking family, almost 2,000 exhibits from all over the world are presented in 26 showrooms - from filigree fine weaving to coarse working baskets, from Japanese temple vases to Indian bowls. Here, woven curiosities such as a corset as well as the latest designer furniture can be marvelled at.
Every Saturday in the season from April to October from 1.30 to 4.30 p.m., basket weavers from the region demonstrate the various techniques of weaving in the "living workshops" and familiarise guests with the materials. Basketry created during the demonstrations can be purchased in the museum shop such as laundry chests, sewing baskets, shopping baskets or carpet beaters.
Michelau i. OFr.
You are sure to find "your" basket as a practical souvenir in the museum shop. Now you can decide according to your mood and fitness: Either you end your hike here and walk back along Bahnhofstraße and on to Michelau station and board the train here. Or you can walk the entire round tour on the "Path of Weaving Culture" towards Lichtenfels. Beforehand, you can fortify yourself for the walk in one of the inns in the village. Then head back along the other side of the Main. You follow the curve of the river and hike through the beautiful Main valley. A bridge over the river leads you to the district of Unterwallenstadt and into Lichtenfels. Here you reach station 17 of the adventure trail, which you should not miss: the willow labyrinth.
Willow Labyrinth Lichtenfels
The willow labyrinth in the district of Unterwallenstadt is one of a total of 23 stations on the "Path of Weaving Culture" from the basket town of Lichtenfels to the basket-making community of Michelau.
For the labyrinth, more than 5,000 willow cuttings were planted on an area of about 50 by 50 metres. This created around 600 metres of paths with two entrances and exits. On the wide paths, which are easy to walk for young and old, you can go astray and take the right path to the hidden centre of the willow labyrinth.
Tour ends on
Between the tracks and the Mühlbach stream, the route now takes you along Schneidmühlweg to Coburger Straße, which crosses under the tracks. Now it's only a few metres to the station. Oh yes, there is also the world's smallest basket. If you want to admire this special craftsmanship of 8 millimetres, just walk a scant 200 metres along Bahnhofstraße to the tourist information office at Bamberger Straße 3a, where the mini basket is on display.