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      The Lahntal

      Dotted with Castles, Cathedrals and Historic Small Towns ...

      ... the peaceful Lahntal is a gentle landscape of rolling hills, meadow-filled valleys and thick forests that lies to the west of Hessen, just north of the Taunus mountains.

      The winding river Lahn makes its way from its source at the Rothaar Low Maintains (Rothaargebirge) to the town of Lahnstein, where it joins the river Rhine (Rhein).

      Hikers should take advantage of the valley's numerous hiking routes such as 290km Lahn Hiking Trail (Lahnwanderweg), which connects the Rothaar mountains with the Rheinsteig hiking trail. The Ruppertsklamm, a two-kilometre-long rocky ravine in a small side valley of the Lahn river, provides a particularly wild, romantic experience for walkers. The river itself provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the region by water, with 160km of the watercourses accessible by canoe. If you're more at home on two wheels, the region's plentiful cycling routes include the Lahntal Bicycle Path (Lahntalradweg) follows the river as it weaves through the Lahn Valley's beautiful hills and dales.

      To the east of the river, the Lahn Dill Bergland Natur Park (Natur Park Lahn-Dill-Bergland) is a glorious destination for hiking, cycling and horseriding. In Bad Enbach, a small town in the foothills of the Rothaar and Westerwald mountains that's renowned for its spa facilities, you'll also find Nordic walking, mountain biking and golf. Come winter, there's tobogganing as well as both downhill and cross-country skiing.

      The towns and villages in the region are characterized by well-preserved half-timbered buildings and impressive palaces and castles. Highlights along the river include vibrant Marburg, baroque Wetzlar and historic Limburg an der Lahn with its seven-towered cathedral. Visit picturesque Weilburg for its magnificent baroque palace and gardens, Germany's tallest loam building and a 12-person foot ferry to take you across the river, a mode of transport that has been running here for more than 300 years. During Advent, explore Weilburg's historic old town (Altstadt) on a lantern-lit guided tour and drink mulled wine under the twinkling lights of its Christmas market.

      In the university town of Giessen, wander Germany's oldest botanical gardens and get hands on at the Mathematikum, a science museum offering interactive mathematical exhibits, the only one of its kind in the world. Visit the medicinal herb garden and an impressive collection of bells at Greifenstein Castle (Burg Greifenstein) or head to the Fortuna Mine (Grube Fortuna) for a fascinating insight into the area's iron ore mining tradition, where you can ride in a pit cage and witness original mining machinery in action.

      In need of a little rest and relaxation? The small town of Biedenkopf, Hessen's most heavily forested town, is a health spa with exceptional climate and air quality. Head to Bad Ems, one of Europe's oldest and most famous spa towns, for its beautiful Baroque and Neoclassical buildings and specialist health and wellness complexes. In August, Germany's biggest annual flower parade takes place here.

      More notable places

      Grimmheimat Nordhessen

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