Healing plants, steadfast priests and resourceful industrialists. On this bike tour you will learn what the imposing Mainberg Castle has to do with the famous gentleman playboy Gunter Sachs.
A cycling tour for nature lovers, culture lovers and explorers.
Arrive relaxed and use rental bikes from the local rental companies. The capacity for taking bicycles on 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 25 bicycle parking spaces in the immediate vicinity of the station.
From Schweinfurt-Mitte railway station, you will find the Schweinfurt 360° tourist information office not a kilometre away.
Here you can rent e-bikes for the tour. Remember to make a reservation in good time!
A total of 4 e-bikes from the regional manufacturer Winora can be rented from April to the end of October outside opening hours at the Tourist Information Schweinfurt 360°.
They can be rented for one or more days. The Tourist Information team will be happy to collect and return the bikes individually and flexibly outside our opening hours by telephone arrangement. An alternative is to return the bikes to bike boxes near the Museum Georg Schäfer and the Main cycle path. Bikes are only available for hire from April to October.
Get on the saddle and off you go. First, the path leads along the beautiful Main River for about 6 kilometres.
The entrance to the Apothekergarten is via Ludwig-Grobe-Straße.
Nature used to be our pharmacy. Wild-growing medicinal plants were everywhere, and the rural population diligently collected them and made teas and other tried-and-tested household remedies from them. In the apothecary garden in Schonungen, 140 native medicinal plants can be found in four areas. Some of them are threatened with extinction or have already disappeared completely from our landscape. However, almost all of them are still in use today. Pharmaceutical companies conduct research on the plants and produce drops, ointments or tablets from their active ingredients.
The medicinal plant garden is divided into different ailments: Which plants help with problems with digestion, circulation, wound treatment or when something gets to our kidneys? What do we do when we have a cough or when the liver and gall bladder need support? Overview panels make a visit to the apothecary garden exciting and educational. But it is also simply beautiful and soothing to stroll among the themed beds and the woody plants and perennials or to enjoy the aromatic air on a bench in the fragrance garden.
The Apothecary Garden is open all year round during the day. With its excellently signposted circular route, it is self-explanatory. It is also worth taking a guided tour in combination with a visit to the pharmacy museum in Mainberg.
Your tour will also take you past the Small Pharmacy Museum in Mainberg towards the end.
So, now it really gets going! The cycle path leads through Schonungen into the hilly forest areas towards the Haßberge. On the first stage, it winds along the course of the Steinach River to Marktsteinach. Many former mills can be seen along the way.
The route continues via Abersfeld and through the Löffelsterz golf course, then on quiet and wooded cycle paths via Reichmannshausen to Ellertshäuser Lake.
Lake Ellertshausen, about 20 km north of Schweinfurt, is the only dam and, at 33 hectares, the largest reservoir in Lower Franconia. Originally built as a water reservoir for irrigating the fields in this part of the Franconian dry plateau, today it is primarily a nature and leisure paradise.
Idyllically surrounded by forest, the lake warms up to 22° Celsius in summer. Then there is sport and fun around the not too cool water: a large sunbathing lawn with an adjacent beach volleyball court in competition dimensions, a sandy beach with a water adventure playground for small and big children, a swimming island and platforms for jumping and jumping into the water.
If you like, you can go pedal boating, surfing, paddling or diving and then treat yourself to a cool drink and delicious meal at the restaurant or kiosk overlooking the lake. However, Lake Ellertshausen is not only worth a visit in summer. It can be walked around barrier-free at any time of the year, and the nature discovery trail on the north shore provides information about the local flora and fauna.
Where Ellertshausen Lake is today, there used to be a settlement.
As early as 1480, however, what was then Ellertshausen was described as a deserted settlement, i.e. it had been abandoned. It was probably the monks from the Neustadt am Main monastery who cultivated the village a thousand years ago. At that time, they already had a settlement in nearby Altenmünster. That is where we are going now.
Just drive two kilometres north along the edge of the forest.
The core of the choir tower of the parish church dates back to the 13th century. The parish is even older, dating back to the 9th century. The roots of the village of Altenmünster itself go back even two hundred years further. However, it is not only old, but, as the name suggests, it is also a minster. That is, it goes back to religious who settled here and promoted settlement by clearing and cultivating the soil.
From 1626, Liborius Wagner, who was beatified as a martyr in the 20th century, was parish priest in Altenmünster. Because he refused to renounce the Catholic faith, he was taken to nearby Meinberg Castle in 1631, where he died after the most terrible tortures.
At that time, the parish church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary already had a cross vault, had a baptismal font, a sacrament box and a small bell in the tower, but was in poor condition. In 1672, the nave was built. In the course of time, the tower was given a pointed roof in the style of the Würzburg prince-bishop and great builder Julius Echter.
Next to the detached parish church is one of the most beautiful historic parsonages in Franconia, where Blessed Liborius Wagner lived in his time. In former times, it was part of the parish priests' job to manage the parish estate themselves.
Every year on the Saturday after Ascension Day, the faithful, and also bishops of the diocese, make a pilgrimage to Altenmünster.
Am Dorfbrunnen 4
Now you can really start pedalling again. The tour leads via Ebenhausen and Hoppachshof, along the Weipoltshauser Grund and back south via Üchtelhausen.
On the last section, you will come across the "Dianenlust" hunting lodge, built in 1824, in the middle of forests that are sustainably managed by the Bavarian State Forests. From here, the trail descends to Mainberg. On the opposite slope you will discover the castle of the same name.
The history of Mainberg Castle began with a Trutzen tower, which was built in the 10th century and still stands today. When it was first mentioned in a document in 1245, the castle was still called Mainberg Castle and belonged to a count. Duchess Margarethe of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel gave it its present form in the 15th century.
Partially destroyed in the Peasants' War, the property passed from the counts to the Bishop of Würzburg in 1542. After secularisation, in which church estates in Bavaria were expropriated in the first years of the 19th century, the castle changed hands several times.
The count and ecclesiastical lords were followed above all by industrialists. The first of these was Wilhelm Sattler, a pioneer of the early industrial era in Bavaria, in 1822. By the end of the 1820s, Sattler employed 450 workers, more than one-sixth of the industrial workforce in Lower Franconia. Among other things, he owned factories for starch and sugar.
His wallpaper factory at Mainberg Castle was not the only production facility within historic walls; he also ran an earthenware factory at Aschach Castle. He became known worldwide with the "Schweinfurt Green", a colour that has a greater luminosity than anything known until then. Unfortunately, it is not only beautiful, but also poisonous.
In 1915, Ernst Sachs bought the castle and manufactured ball bearings. His invention can still be found on modern bicycles: the torpedo freewheel hub. One of Germany's richest married couples had a son at Mainberg Castle in 1932: Gunter Sachs. In the 1960s he became a jet-setter, a playboy and for a few years was the husband of the French film icon Brigitte Bardot.
Difficult years began for the castle when it was sold to the dubious hair tonic manufacturer Wilhelm Heger. The new owner was convicted of fraud and the state auctioned off the castle. The city of Schweinfurt bought it at auction, albeit without a concept for its use, and sold it to a building contractor twenty years later. He ensured the preservation of the castle, which was in need of renovation, and repaired it at great expense. However, he died at Mainberg Castle at the age of only 52 without any descendants.
Today, the castle is closed to the public, a support association has been founded, and since 2017, emergency measures have been taken to secure the castle's existence.
The success of the important castle owner Wilhelm Sattler would not have been possible without his partner, the pharmacist Friedrich Wilhelm Ruß, with whom he researched industrial manufacturing methods for food and dyes.
If you have booked a tour of the pharmacy museum dedicated to him (Sotierstraße 2, 97453 Schonungen, Tel. 09721 75810), take a short detour there now before heading back to the station.
To Schweinfurt-Mitte station you then cycle back along the Main. Don't forget to return your bike to the Tourist Information.