You want to discover the Franconian way of life on a tour by train and bike? Then off to Eßleben! This cycle tour takes you right through the land of the Marterli, past around 80 wayside shrines.
A cycling tour for nature lovers, explorers and culture enthusiasts.
Arrive relaxed and use rental bikes from the local rental companies. The capacity for taking bicycles on the trains is limited and taking your own bike on the train cannot be guaranteed, depending on the capacity.
Our tip: Please make sure to check your train connection and the expected capacity before you start your journey.
There are 24 bicycle parking spaces in the immediate vicinity of the station.
From Eßleben station, follow Bahnhofstraße, turn right at the main road and then left again into Kirchstraße.
Here in the centre of Eßleben you will already encounter the first four wayside shrines on your tour. The first is the Herrenmarter.
With its height of almost five metres, the Herrenmarter cannot be overlooked. It consists of a wayside cross made of shell limestone with a base of sandstone. The statue at the foot of the cross is made of red sandstone and represents a seated Mary. According to the original inscription on the pedestal, the reason for the erection of the Herrenmarter was "gratitude for the preservation of the community of Essleben from great war hardship".
A little tip before you set off: On the way, look out for a processional altar with a rich baroque design.
At the end of Kirchstraße, turn right at the cemetery and immediately left again into Mühlweg. A beautiful cycle path leads you along the Brummbach stream to Mühlhausen.
There you follow Grundmühlstraße to St.-Martin-Straße, into which you turn right. Continue past the sports field and out of town. Here the cycle path now winds along the little river Wern to Zeuzleben.
Pass the monument to Nepomuk, a freestanding wayside shrine from 1733, and enter the village. How many wayside shrines have you seen on this first stage?
In Zeuzleben, there are more than half a dozen wayside shrines within a short distance. The two oldest wayside shrines in the entire region stand close together here. They can be recognised by their gable tops and are dated 1489 and 1536. Both were heavily reworked or replaced by a replica in 1963.
Always keep your eyes open. You will continue to pass not only wayside crosses, wayside shrines and processional altars. Along this route you will see numerous houses in typical Franconian style, half-timbered houses and old farm gates made of regional sandstone. The churches in Zeuzleben and Schraudenbach, for example, were built according to plans by Balthasar Neumann, the consummate Baroque architect.
From the market square, turn left into Oberes Tor and then take the second right. The path leads leisurely parallel to the Stängersgraben to Schraudenbach. About 200 m after the church of St. Jakobus in Gambachstraße, turn right into Stettbacher Straße and in Stettbach turn left into Kirschental. Now follow the Lachgraben to Vasbühl, from where it continues east to Egenhausen to the Franconian wayside shrine centre in St.-Johannes Straße.
The Franconian Wayside Shrine Centre is dedicated to the diversity of manifestations and the varied stories surrounding the approximately 600 wayside shrines in the region. Most of these small religious monuments were built during the Baroque period. The Enlightenment only temporarily interrupted this tradition in Catholic Franconia. Today, wayside shrines are considered landmarks of the Franconian landscape.
In order to protect and preserve their wayside shrines, ten communities with 45 localities joined forces a few years ago and founded the Franconian Wayside Shrine Centre in the old school in Egenhausen. A reference library has been set up in its information centre. There is a permanent exhibition on the theme of "Faith-Art-Culture" and an open-air display on the "Technique of the Wayside Shrine" in the outdoor area. The basis for the processing, research and documentation of the existing wayside shrines is the wayside shrine database with hundreds of pictures and descriptions and a sorting according to places, themes and according to the period of origin from the 15th to the present 21st century.
The Franconian Wayside Shrine Centre has also designed three circular cycle routes that open up the richness of the wayside shrines in the Upper Wern Valley in its villages and fields to those who are interested.
St. Johannes-Straße 73
Continue on Sankt-Johannes-Straße through Egenhausen, you pass the street "Am alten Brunnen", 180 m later turn right into Brunnenstraße and cycle towards Schleerieth. After a good half kilometre, a path branches off the road at an acute angle. There is a wayside shrine on the right that is worth a look.
At the fork in the road between Egenhausen and Schleerieth, a rather rare four-sided wayside shrine dating from 1571 commemorates its founder Anton Geib. The square pillar bears the coat of arms of Prince-Bishop Friedrich von Wirsberg. The top shows reliefs in shallow niches with the crucifixion on the front and a vesper image on the back. The end of the wedge arch is decorated with a stone cross crown on the front and volutes on the back.
You continue along Brunnenstraße to Schleerieth. In the centre of the village, it is worth stopping at the Kirchgaden complex, which in early years was a place of refuge during attacks and a safe place to store supplies. The lovingly restored arcades were one of the reasons why Schleerieth was voted the most beautiful village in the district in the 1990s.
At the end of Schlehenstraße, turn right and, at the pilgrimage church in Eckartshausen, take a sharp left onto Talstraße. This leads you to Rundelshausen and on along the Eschenbach stream to Ettleben. Here alone there are 10 small monuments, the most recent of which, dating from 1996 in Ettlebener Straße, shows the risen Christ.
From Ettleben, it's a short stretch along the Wern to Werneck. Don't miss it and take a look at the impressive Werneck Castle with its chapel and park in the style of an English garden. To do so, turn left onto Balthasar Neumann Straße. The baroque summer residence is also called the "little sister of the Würzburg Residence" and, like the latter, was designed and built by the architect and city architect Balthasar Neumann.
When your legs are tired, you can follow the Würzburger Straße back to Eßleben from here. Or you can make a small detour and take the road Am Schlosspark to Waigolshausen, where you can take another look around at almost a dozen wayside shrines. The tour ends for you at Waigolshausen railway station if you do not want to drive along the Gassigbach and the B19 to your starting point in Eßleben and complete the circular route.