The Palatinate Forest [in German: Pfälzer Wald] forms together with the bordering Vosges Biosphere Reserve a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It covers about one-third of the entire Palatinate and it is listed among the biggest forests in Europe. Predominate characteristics of the Palatinate Forest are its sandstone formations, castles and a rich wild life. Every year hundred thousands of hikers and bikers frequent its trails and visits its mountain taverns.
With about 500 castles the Palatinate Forest is like a trip back to Middle Ages when knights and counts inhabited this region. Famous castles are the Berwartstein castle and the triple castle of Altdahn-Grafendahn-Tanstein. The Bertwartstein was once home of the legendary robber knight, called Hans Trapp. For destroying a close-by monastery, he fell in disgrace with the Pope and the Palatine Count. While being an outlaw he turned into a brutal robber knight. Later, his life story became a source of many tales. One of them is about the Maiden’s Jump. It is told that when a maid crossed the knight’s path, she was fleeing on the top of a hill. In her fear, she jumped from the top of a huge rock to escape.
Even if most of the castles were destroyed in the past and remain only as ruins, each wanderer is rewarded by an astonishing view over the Palatinate Forest. It is special highlight when medieval festivals turn some of the castles into places with fighting knights and entertaining jugglers.
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