Maulbronn: My Favorite Town in Germany That You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

Town and hills in Maulbronn, Germany

After living in Germany for 9 months I have discovered my favorite place in Germany so far and no it’s not Berlin or Munich or Stuttgart.

Walking into the historic center of  felt like I was slipping back into the previous century.  I was literally speechless and for those that don’t know me, that rarely ever happens.  I have never been so immediately captivated by a place,  a place where I could experience all of my favorite things at once.  I must have said “Wow” a 100 times.  Unless you’re very familiar with Germany, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of the charming town of Maulbronn, located just 35 km from Stuttgart.  I hadn’t heard of it until my German friend (thanks Barbara) recommended it to me and I live close by.    Here’s why I couldn’t stop saying “Wow.”

Maulbronn is most famous for it’s monastery founded in 1147.  It is by far the most impressive monastery I’ve ever been in and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.    The Maulbronn Monastery has an interesting beginning.  Legend has it that some monks decided that wherever their mule stopped for a drink of water would be the ideal location for their monastery and so a monastery was built.  I could go on and on about the Monastery, but will save it for an upcoming post devoted entirely to the monastery. See Maulbronn Monastery – The Most Important Cistercian Monastery in Europe.

Maulbronn monastery in Germany

The entire city center was protected by a wall, part of which you can still see today and nestled into a valley, it’s a very picturesque setting.

City wall in Maulbronn, Germany

Nestled into this picturesque valley are charming half timber houses and shops all part of the monastery complex.  While the monastery itself and the monastery complex have such an old history, the actual town outside the walled monastery complex is only 150 years old and was founded on the monastery settlement.

maulbronn houses germany

More medieval houses in Maulbronn, Germany

And of course every town needs a granary – and somewhere to store the wine.  Today the old granary is used for special events.
Granary in Maulbronn, Germany

Maulbronn cats in Germany
Door for cats in the Maulbronn center

And as a cat lover I was thrilled to see a restaurant with the name “cat” in it and this little cat door in the middle of the complex.  People that love cats are good people in my book and the few cats I did see roaming the streets of Maulbronn looked very well fed.

The witches tower stands tall and prominent in the city center.  As the name would suggest, this was where people were held for trial for witchcraft in the 1400s.
Witches tower in Maulbronn, Germany

Just in case you’re not convinced to join the other 300,000 tourists that visit Maulbronn, there is also a ruin.  It was under construction during our visit, but it appears that it is normally a picnic area.
Castle ruin in Maulbronn, Germany

Leading outside  the walled settlement is a bridge that leads you to a lake where you can swim in summer or choose one of the other walking paths designed around the motto “Water, wine and forest in the Cistercian Cultural Landscape.”  I love hiking so will definitely bring my walking shoes with me next time and sample the wine too of course.
City wall and bridge in Maulbronn, Germany

I find it hard to believe that a monastery would need protection but they did.  In addition to the walled settlement there was also a zwinger.  The zwinger was an area surrounding the wall where usually a bear or dogs were kept to keep would be intruders out and prisoners in the witches corner in.  Escaping would have been difficult.
Zwinger and witches tower in Maulbronn, Germany
Have I convinced you to visit?

Know Before You Got To Maulbronn:

  • Maulbronn is located ~45km NW of Stuttgart.  It is easily reached by train or car.
  • It is a cute little village best explored on foot so bring good walking shoes.
  • The highlight for many people is the monastery which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site,
  • There’s also a nearby lake in which you can go swimming.
  • It’s a small place that can easily be explored in a half-full day.

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You may also be interested in visiting Schwäbisch Hall:  My 2nd Favorite City in Germany or Rothenburg ob der Tauber, another well preserved medieval town, but one that’s very popular with tourists.

See more places to visit in Germany.

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About Author

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains Adventure Travel. She's passionate about getting outdoors as often as possible and helping travellers do the same on their vacation in a sustainable way. She's Canadian and grew up in the Canadian Rockies but now lives in Munich, Germany. You can find her skiing or hiking in the mountains most weekends, hanging out with her cat or with her nose in a good book.


March 15, 2011
Thanks for this post! I love learning about new places to visit that are not on the normal tourist beat! I will definitely put this on my list for my next trip to Germany.
March 15, 2011
I've been there. Maulbronn is very sweet. :) Nice post!
March 15, 2011
Yes, you've convinced me. Germany really knows how to picturesque, fairytale settings doesn't it?! We need to get back there soon to see more of the country. Julia
March 15, 2011
@Debbie - It really is worth a trip. We're always checking out new places in Germany and this by far has been my favorite! @CN Heidelberg - Wonderful, glad to hear someone has been and enjoyed it. @Turkeys for Life - Excellent, I'll even be your personal tour guide when you come :)
March 15, 2011
Oh wow - and I bet there's good beer there too, and roast pork...
March 15, 2011
Wow! A new meaning for quaint. Maulbronn reeks of history and tradition. Wonderful pictures. Thx for the tour.
March 16, 2011
Aaarrh, what a beautiful little village. I just want to shrink it down and put it in my pocket!
March 16, 2011
That's just beautiful! Imagine it covered in snow? Have you had lots of snow this winter?
March 16, 2011
What a great-looking place. I remember being blown away by the fairytale-ness of Freiburg but this looks like it's even better! I forwarded the link to my friend in Germany who is obsessed by cats. I reckon she'll be visiting there soon.
jamie - cloud people adventures
March 16, 2011
one thing i definitely remember about germany, especially the south, was the majestic "fairytale" cities. i hadnt heard of maulbronn before, but definitely looks like a worthwhile visit. the witch tower looks pretty crazy,
March 16, 2011
You're right....I hadn't heard of Maulbronn before, but it looks really charming! Almost like a setting for one of Grimm's fairytales. You'll have to revisit there in the spring and show us photos of all the trees and flowers in bloom :)
March 16, 2011
Looks and sounds idyllic,. Should merit a stop-over in the south-western corner of Germany. Mette
March 16, 2011
@Robin - I'm sure. Good beer and pork are pretty easy to find everywhere in Germany :) @Barry - Quaint is an excellent way to describe it. The town has a population of 6400. @Jill - Love your description about shrinking it down and putting it in your pocket. @John - You're right, it would be beautiful in winter. We had a ton of snow in Dec, but then it disappeared. You? @The Drop-Out - I haven't been to Freiburg yet, but I've loved everywhere I've been in the Black Forest, so I can imagine that it's also beautiful. @Jamie - "Fairytale" is an excellent way to describe the small villages in southern Germany. @Michael - You're right, it would be the perfect setting for one of Grimm's fairytales! @ Mette - Definitely.
March 16, 2011
Fantastic views. Will have to stop by on my next visit!
March 16, 2011
You just spotted Maulbronn on my map. And I would like to add one more "WOW"! This place looks so amazing, and the history behind makes it look even more interesting! One more reason to return to Germany. Btw, you're right, I had never heard of it!
March 18, 2011
Looks like a dream. I am putting Malbronn on my list next time I am in Germany. Can't wait to hear about the monastery visit. How interesting that the monks just set up where their mule was thirsty.
March 18, 2011
@Norbert - I would recommend it to everyone coming to Germany, even though it isn't well known. As an architect I think you would find it extremely interesting as well. @Suzy - Oh good, hope you're able to get there one day. I love how they decided on the location of the monastery, they obviously had a smart mule because the location is gorgeous.
March 22, 2011
Another place I hadn't heard of that looks amazing--plus I learned what a zwinger is! I'd like to check Malbronn out when I visit Germany this fall! Thanks for the post!
March 24, 2011
@Chris - If you come to Germany you will see a lot of zwingers and I'd definitely put Malbronn on your list when you come.
Sofia - As We Travel
April 7, 2011
Yep you were right, I've never heard of the place before - seems awesome, and it looks SO German! ;)
April 7, 2011
@Sofia - Maulbronn is really small (6400 people), but I love it and agree, it looks very German.
April 10, 2011
Oh, I love this! Much of my experience with Germany was a week I spent in a small town for a wedding, and I love the charm.
April 21, 2011
Beautiful! I've just added Malbronn to my list of places to see this fall. Thanks!
April 30, 2011
I love your blog and the pictures! If you like these kind of towns I could also recommend Ladenburg which is near Heidelberg if you haven't seen it yet.
May 15, 2011
Wow, Maulbronn looks beautiful. Must have been in Germany 40 times or more, but never heard of this little jewel. Thanks!
May 28, 2011
I actually got to live and work in Maulbronn for 8 weeks in the summer of '09! When I tell people where I was no one has ever even heard of it, now I'll refer them to this blog post! Maulbronn is also known for the delicious Maultaschen!
Alexa Goldman
June 12, 2011
your right i have never heard of it, but those photos are breathtaking :)
June 23, 2011
Wow, you're right - never heard of Maulbronn...!
June 28, 2011
Cool! Didn't know about this place, always love historic locations that are kept intact. Great post!
Traveling Ted
July 16, 2011
I am convinced this place needs a visit. Maulbronn looks enchanting.
July 18, 2011
@Abby - I love the charm of German villages as well. @Pete - Excellent - it's a bit out of the way, but worth the trip! @Claudia - Thanks and thanks for recommending Ladenburg, I haven't heard of it so will have to check it out. @Sophie - 40 times in Germany? Wow! Maulbronn is off the beaten off so I can see how you haven't heard of it. @Brit - I am so jealous! Now you can tell your friends that someone else also loves the place :). When we toured the monastery they told us the story of how monks used to sneak meat in by creating Maultaschen. I didn't try it when as I was there as I have a gluten allergy, but I can see that it would be very tasty. @Alexa/@Roy/@Roy - It's definitely worth a visit. @Ted - I would completely agree!
February 25, 2012
Looks like a great place to visit. Next time I am down near Stuttgart I'll have to check it out. Most foreigners who come to Germany only check out the southern and central parts of Germany. If you haven't yet, go north. Since you seem to be a history buff, check out Goslar and the Harz mountains. Goslar is where my family is from and another UNESCO world heritage site. Some parts of the city is over 1000 years old. The Brocken mountain in the Harz mountains is famous for their witch trials and burnings during the middle ages and a lot of Germany's fairy tales were inspired by the forests in the Harz mountains.
November 10, 2012
I have never heard of Maulbronn even as a German but it seems to be a very nice surrounding of the Karlsruhe area which is quite an interesting place. I always get stucked in other places nearby though. If you like castles I would also like to recommend the Dresden surroundings, Moritzburg, Meißen, Wackerbarth, Pillnitz, Pirna, Großsedlitz and Saxon Switzerland with Fortress Koenigstein and needless to say Dresden itself. Most of them can be reached with the paddle steamers, biggest fleet of the world. Only one climate zone, but 24 regions for each hour - Germany - for endless days. Sometimes I create slogans which are really silly, I don't know why this is so. In any case some areas are so beautiful, you hardly can hold on to your Sauerkraut.
November 20, 2012
@Dresden Markenrecht - Thank you for the castle recommendations! I love Dresden and would love to come back. I like your slogans :)

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