Last August my family and I were driving down to Southern Germany where one of my cousins held a post-wedding family barbeque (because she before eloped in Denmark with her Nigerian husband — I love how multi-cultural my family is!). Somewhere on the road, in-between Karlsruhe and Stuttgart, I spotted a sign saying ‘Maulbronn’. I knew I had heard this name before, and was pretty sure it had something to do with the Middle Ages and art. I blurrily recalled one of my first semester art history professors mention Maulbronn in a lecture.
Without really knowing what to expect, I convinced my family to stop in Maulbronn on our way back. And as soon as we entered the little town, I knew why my art historical guts had led me there — Maulbronn was a true medieval wonderland!
The old center of the town is defined by a Cistercian monastery and its stunning church. The monastery was founded in the first half of 12th century, and is today considered one of the best preserved medieval monastery monuments north of the Alps. This clerical complex is surrounded by the most beautiful half-timbered houses and an old city wall that is still walkable today. The whole city of Maulbronn itself lies in a valley of gorgeous vineyards, since the area has been a proud wine region ever since the Middle Ages. All in all, this little city was one of the most picturesque places I had seen in a long time.
Visiting Maulbronn almost felt like time traveling — suddenly the Middle Ages weren’t just those blurry dark centuries we know so little about, but a whole perceptible and touchable period of European history.
When I later on did some research on Maulbronn I realized two things: Maulbronn is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and I felt really bad for not having known that before. And secondly — and most importantly — that traveling in your home country is not as uncool as it may sound at first.
Experiencing something new and being overwhelmed by the beauty of history and architecture does not necessarily involve an exotic place, a language barrier, and an air plane. There is just so much unexplored beauty in my own backyard! And this little random stop in Maulbronn reminded me that I’m incredibly lucky to live in an amazing country with an ancient history — that is totally worth traveling through!