Hatred Mountains

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Hatred Mountains
Highest peak Nassacher Höhe ( 512.2  m above sea  level )
location Bavaria
Haßberge (Bavaria)
Hatred Mountains
Coordinates 50 ° 11 ′  N , 10 ° 30 ′  E Coordinates: 50 ° 11 ′  N , 10 ° 30 ′  E

The Haßberge are one to 512.2  m above sea level. NN high low mountain range between Schweinfurt and Bamberg in Lower Franconia and Upper Franconia , north of the Main . The hill country is separated from its sister mountains, the Steigerwald , by the Main Valley . The edge heights of both forest mountains drop steeply towards the Main. Between Ebelsbach and Haßfurt, the river crosses the mountainous region in a wide breakthrough valley, creating a convenient connection between the Obermain and the fertile Mittelmaing area.

A landmark of the Haßberge: the Bettenburg near Hofheim (steel engraving, 19th century)
The hill country of the Haßberge from the eastern slope of the Zeilberg near Maroldsweisach . To the left of the center of the picture you can see the striking volcanic cone of the Bramberg
Typical Haßberglandschaft at boars . View from the former training area to the south of the Zeilberge. In the background the Franconian Jura

The Haßberge are a central part of the Haßberge Nature Park , whose extensive mixed forests are criss-crossed by numerous hiking trails. The nature park stretches from the former inner-German border near Bad Königshofen to the Main near Hallstadt . On the other side of the Main is the Steigerwald Nature Park .

The Haßberge region includes not only the actual, naturally clearly delimited low mountain range, but also the western foreland and parts of the Itz-Baunach hill country ( Zeilberge ) to the east .

Another unusual feature is the wealth of the tract of land in historic castle - and castles , of which as more than 40 ruins were preserved or are still inhabited. Several formerly strongly fortified cities on the edge of the mountains have largely been able to preserve their historical ensembles, such as B. Königsberg in Bavaria or Hofheim in Lower Franconia .

The landscape name

The origin of the name Haßberge is unclear. According to one theory, the name Haßberge was derived from the Chatten tribe , who are said to have formerly settled in this area. The tribal name Chatten changed over the centuries to today's common name form Hessen . In the 7th century AD, the form "Hassi" was common. In the High Middle Ages, the Fulda monastery was wealthy in the region. The construction of the step castle near Baunach is said to go back to a bailiwick of the monastery.

Other researchers see a connection with a "Hasenfurt" over the Main ( Haßfurt ). A shallow river crossing is said to have made it possible for “rabbits feet” and “fearful rabbits” to cross the river safely. The interpretation as a “wet ford” is also discussed.

According to Hans Bahlow , Hasa could also be derived from a swamp, moor and reed landscape on the Main. The linguist Peter von Polenz even saw a possible connection with the Nassach River , which flows into the Main near Haßfurt. This assumption is supported by the early medieval crook Haßgau, whose center was in the Nassachtal.

The Slavist Heinrich Kunstmann traced the root of the word back to the West Slavic word chasa , thus assuming a connection with the Wendish settlement of the region. According to this interpretation, the landscape name would mean mountains of the crowd, the people.

Hans Jakob and Heinrich Kunstmann even interpreted the name of the municipality of Knetzgau , located on the edge of the Steigerwald, as a reference to a Slavic Urgau that extended into the western Steigerwald. Knetz is said to go back to the Wendish knedz , which is said to be derived from the Old High German kunig . According to this theory, a Slavic clan group under the leadership of a knedz is said to have settled in the main area behind the Haßberge / Steigerwald steep step (Großer and Kleiner Knetzberg). Kunstmann interpreted the region as the nucleus of the legendary Samo Empire. The area south of the Main was said to have been largely Germanic and was called Volkfeld. So Hassgau would be the almost literal Slavic equivalent of Volkfeld. The administrative center between the Germanic Volkfeld and the Slavic Haßgau was the Königs- (Knedz-) gau Samos.

The investigations of Jakobs and Kunstmann indicate that the Slavic settlement area actually extended much further west than the traditional, often nationalistically influenced research assumed. To localize the historically significant origin of the first Slavic empire here, however, seems somewhat exaggerated and shaped by local patriotism . Accordingly, Kunstmann believed that he could identify the legendary Wogastisburg as today's Burk near Forchheim . The theses of Kunstmann were very much noticed in the professional world and long discussed, but are currently considered largely refuted. However, in 2003 these theories were included in the volume Haßfurt of the Historical Atlas of Bavaria .

Jakob Amstadt establishes a connection with the Old High German adjective hasan (shiny gray, ash gray) (the hare is also sometimes called the "gray" in fables) and postulates a connection with a Germanic ( Wotans ) place of worship around white horses that live in the holy forest should have lived around the Hate Mountains.


Geographical location

The Haßberge are in the Lower Franconian districts of Schweinfurt , Rhön-Grabfeld and Haßberge , for which they are named. Since the regional reform of 1972, some peripheral areas have belonged to the districts of Bamberg and Coburg .

The heartland of the forest mountains with the forest areas around the Großer Haßberg, the Bramberger Wald and the Haßwald (Ebern Forest) extends from Schloss Kleinbardorf in the far northwest like a large sickle about 50 kilometers in a southeast direction to the Steigerwald south or the Franconian Switzerland southeast of the southeast end, from which it separates the valley of the Main .

The gently undulating landscape to the west of this ridge that drains over the Nassach is called Haßgau and is already part of the Graulandschaft of the Grabfeld , in whose heartland it flows in a narrow corridor to the north.

The “Zeilberge” between Baunach- Daschendorf , Ebern and Maroldsweisach form a counterpart to the Haßberge east on the other side of the Baunach and Weisach valley, which is also almost entirely in the Haßberge Nature Park . The elongated ridge carries some of the most important natural and cultural attractions of the region ( altenstein castle , Burg Lichtenstein , Rotenhan Castle, thief cellar at Rabelsdorf). The Zeilberge connect the Haßberge with the Itz-Baunach hill country , to which they are already assigned. The Itz-Baunach hill country extends on the Upper Itzgrund in the northeast to the former residential town of Coburg and east of Coburg to close to the Steinach .

Wilhelm Götz transferred the landscape name Haßberge to the Zeilberge and the area between the two ridges in 1898 . The Haßberge defined in this way extend in the southeast to the Unteren Itzgrund of the Itz below Untermerzbach and in the east and northeast to the Alster . Between the northern edges of the Zeil and Haßbergen in the narrower sense , the watershed between the Baunach and Alster / Rodach tributaries from Allertshausen to Sternberg can be seen as the border of the area. From Sternberg towards the southwest, the border between this landscape and the grave field stretches along the watershed to the Franconian Saale .

The Haßberge in the broader sense according to this definition largely agree with the Haßberge Nature Park and include, in addition to the Haßberge in the narrower sense , the entire natural area of ​​the south-western Itz-Baunach hill country . Only in the north does the nature park noticeably extend beyond this landscape and also contain parts of the Königshofener Grabfeld .

The wild spell from the Zeilberg

To the east, the Haßberge region clearly extends beyond the "Haßberge in the narrower sense". This extended landscape designation goes back to the high medieval wilderness donation of Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa to the diocese of Würzburg (March 22, 1172). This bannum ferarum, called Wiltban vom Cilleberg, encompassed the area of ​​the Zeilberg and the middle Haßberge starting from the Zeilberg. The northern border of this huge wilderness area was the course of the Rodach . In the east, the Itz bordered the district up to the Main. In the west, the ban ended at Ebelsbach. Further border points were the Lußberg (Bamberg Bishop's Forest) and the - as yet unidentified - "Sünderstein". To the north, the banned district extended as far as the Großer Haßberg near Hofheim.

The actual mountain range of the Haßberge ends in the northeast at the Kleiner Haßberg. In terms of nature, the area east of Bundorf and Burgpreppach belongs to the Itz-Baunach hill country, to which even the Haubeberg near Ebern (Rauheneck Castle) can be assigned.

The Hassgau

Just like the term Haßberge, the term Haßgau is also not clearly defined. At present, either the entire, expanded Haßberg area up to the Itz or just the Hofheim Gau is addressed as Haßgau.

In the early Middle Ages , the Haßgau was a Untergau of the Grabfeldgau , the center of which was probably in the Nassachtal west of the Haßberg main ridge. East of the mountains, however, Bundorf is also known to be part of this Haßgau. In the High Middle Ages , however, the Haßgau was equated with a much larger area, which also included the large wilderness area of ​​the Zeilberg. In the northeast, this high medieval Haßgau extended to Hellingen near Heldburg . Lauringen , Wettringen and Birkenfeld can be identified as further northern border points to the Grabfeld .

Natural structure

The handbook of the natural spatial structure of Germany lists the Haßberge as the main natural spatial unit of the main unit group Franconian Keuper-Lias-Land . In the following list of the sub-natural areas, for the sake of clarity, the adjoining landscapes to the east, also almost completely located in the Haßberge Nature Park , are listed:

Geology and landscape

"Sea of ​​rocks" made of Rhaetian sandstone blocks below Lichtenstein Castle near Pfarrweisach (Zeilberge)
One of the few real rock castles in Germany: Rotenhan Castle near Ebern
The large basalt quarry on the Zeilberg
The modern lookout tower on the Schwedenschanze near Eichelsdorf
The "Hohle Stein" near Reutersbrunn (Haßwald), one of the many legendary rock groups of the Haßberge
The northeastern Haßberge and Zeilberge from the hikers' car park under Rauheneck Castle near Vorbach (border Haßberge / Itz-Baunach-Hügelland)

Geologically , the Haßberg and Zeilberg mountains largely belong to the Franconian Keuperbergland ( Germanic Triassic ). The keuper is the dominant element. The hard layers of deposit above the basement were cut out by means of erosion processes, thus shaping today's relief. These forces of erosion also created the steep western slope of the mountainous region to the Schweinfurt Gau.

The volcanic basalts of the Heldburg gang are from the Tertiary . Even today, the striking Bramberg between Königsberg and Ebern is evidence of the volcanic activity in this hill country. A large basalt quarry is still being operated on the Zeilberg above Maroldsweisach. Other smaller basalt and sandstone quarries have been abandoned, and some are still being exploited. The sandstone from the Haßberg Mountains in particular is considered to be a valuable stone, which was also used in the construction of the Reichstag building in Berlin or the Frankfurt main train station ( Burgpreppach sandstone). Most of the basalt deposits are processed into road gravel .

To the north of the former district town of Ebern , Rhät sandstone blocks that have slipped down into the valley form several vast seas of rocks ( Lichtenstein Castle , Diebskeller). The jagged rock formations were partly used in the High Middle Ages to build some rock castles that are important for castle history ( Rotenhan Castle , Teufelsstein ). The unstable geological subsurface still endangers some communities today. The mountain village of Altenstein is particularly affected, where part of the large castle ruins ( Altenstein Castle ) collapsed at the end of the 20th century . The facility was then secured.

The landscape is rather unspectacular, but many visitors find it particularly attractive because of the backdrop-like grouping of the densely forested mountain ridges. As a result of the disturbed soil structure, the relief is often restless and narrowed in small areas.

Towards the Main and to the west, the small mountain range drops steeply in one step towards the foreland, while it tapers off much more gently to the north and east. The eastern fall is broken up by numerous streams. Opposite the Main rises the more sparsely populated sister mountains of the Steigerwald, north of the Itztal the Franconian Jura begins , which can be overlooked especially well from the edge of the Zeilberge between Ebern and Lichtenstein ( Staffelberg , Upper Main Valley).

A good overview of the hilly country is provided by a number of lookout points and towers, such as the observation tower on the Schwedenschanze near Hofheim or Altenstein Castle near Maroldsweisach. From the nearby Zeilberg, the circular path ("stone adventure path") around the quarry provides further views. From there there is also a panorama of the Rhön and the Thuringian Forest . Further north near Zimmerau is the "Bayern Tower" on the former zone border. Even before reunification, the lookout gave the population a glimpse of the previously inaccessible restricted areas of southern Thuringia.

The cities are all on the edge of the mountains. Only Ebern is completely embedded in the heights of the Haßberg and Zeilberg mountains. The interior of the Haßberge is largely farmland and woodland; numerous mills enliven the landscape. The region in the southeast ( Lautertal around Kirchlauter ) is called the Holy Lands .


The surveys of the Haßberge and the Haßberge Nature Park include (sorted by height in meters):

  • Nassacher Höhe ( 512.2  m )
  • Leaf hill ( 504.5  m )
  • Großer Breitenberg (approx. 497  m )
  • Bruckenberg (approx. 496  m )
  • Bramberg ( 494.3  m ) - with Bramberg castle ruins
  • Schwedenschanze (approx. 487  m ) - with the Schwedenschanze ramparts
  • Sting ( 484.2  m )
  • Rosenberg (approx. 476  m )
  • Ox hill (approx. 473  m )
  • Lußberg (approx. 464  m )
  • Büchelberg (Ditterswind) ( 463  m )
  • Zeilberg (Zeilberge; 462.9  m )
  • Tonberg (approx. 458  m )
  • Höhberg (approx. 450  m )


  • Wildberg ruins (approx. 450  m )

Flowing waters

The running waters in and around the Haßberge include the Franconian Saale in the north, Baunach in the east, Itz in the northeast, Lauter in the southeast, Main in the south and Nassach and Lauer in the west.


The localities in and on the Haßbergen include (clockwise, starting in the north): Bad Königshofen in the north, Maroldsweisach and Ebern in the east, Baunach and Hallstadt (near Bamberg ) in the southeast, Ebelsbach and Zeil am Main in the south, Haßfurt , Königsberg in Bavaria and Hofheim in Lower Franconia in the southwest, Stadtlauringen in the west and Sulzfeld in the northwest.

Flora and fauna

In addition to the richly structured mixed forests around Ebern, Rentweinsdorf and Kirchlauter, the oak , alder , beech and ash forests near Bundorf and Bramberg deserve special mention. Natural forest reserves were established on the Kraiberg and the Stachel. Overall, the proportion of forest in the Haßberge is over 40 percent of the total area. The almost seamless connection between the three nature parks Haßberge, Steigerwald and Frankenhöhe enables long-distance hikers to take extended tours of several days through the Franconian natural and cultural landscape.

In addition to the typical local deciduous trees , the orchards on the outskirts and numerous orchards also determine the landscape.

At the Haßbergtrauf (Main Valley) there is still a lot of viniculture . The wines are served in some hedge taverns . The Haßberge form the border between the so-called "Weinfranken" and the Upper Franconian "Bierfranken", to which the northern and central Haßberge can also be assigned. However, wine was also grown here in some areas until around 1700.

In the west of the Haßberge you can still find rare plant species such as the Great Adonis , the purple clover or the Easter louse . The proportion of forest increases to the east and south-east. In the narrow meadow valleys of the Haßberg plateau, cotton grasses , wet meadow boy herbs and some orchid species grow .

The fragmented natural and cultural landscape is maintained or restored through a number of landscape conservation and grazing projects . Migrant sheep farming is of particular importance here . Also, goats and cattle are used as a natural landscape Pfleger. The farmers also maintain and recultivate abandoned parts of the landscape such as old vineyards or former orchards and thus regain valuable biotopes . The nature park finances such maintenance measures up to 70 percent and thus secures the farmers considerable additional income.

Larger red deer populations were able to keep themselves particularly in the Bundorf Forest . The hikers rarely come across the wild boar population in the nature park. Usually only traces of digging in the ground indicate the activities of the rotten.

The source streams and trenches are populated by numerous amphibians , especially fire salamanders and yellow-bellied toads. The significant river crayfish populations of the Haßberg Mountains in particular point to the often excellent water quality . In the west of the hill country one can occasionally see smooth snakes .

The large forests and humid meadow valleys offer shelter and habitat for some endangered bird species. In addition to middle woodpeckers and red-backed birds , woodcock and eagle owls , white and black storks also visit the region.

Eating marks and tree damage on the Main prove that the beaver is slowly returning to the Haßberge.


The old town of Zeil am Main , a former official town of the Bamberg monastery
Considered one of the most beautiful preserved courtyard gates in Franconia: The "Wooden Men" from Baunach
Half-timbered ensemble in
Unfind near Königsberg
The Ebern town hall
Typical regional half-timbered facade in
Mürsbach (Altlandkreis Ebern)
Co-financed by foundations of the nobility of the Haßberge: The late Gothic knight chapel in Haßfurt with around 250 coats of arms of the Franconian and Swabian knighthood
The altenstein castle above the Weisachtal
Between Ebern and Seßlach: Heilgersdorf Castle on the northeastern edge of the Haßberge
The early classicist Gleisenau Castle near Ebelsbach
The problem child of monument preservation: Ebelsbach Castle . The historic property burned out completely in September 2009
The historical Ebern Jewish cemetery with around 1200 preserved tombstones

The fact that the Haßberge have been visited and settled by people for a long time is due, among other things, to the ruins of Bramberg Castle , which stands on the Bramberg ( 494.3  m ), to the ruins of Rauheneck Castle , which is located on the Haubeberg ( 428  m ) is located at the Burgstall Rottenstein , which is east of Aidhausen- Rottenstein, and can be recognized by the Wildberg ruins , which stand on a northwestern elevation of the landscape. In addition, there is the Bettenburg Castle , which was built northeast of Hofheim, as well as other old buildings and ruins in the Haßberge Mountains .

Prehistory and early history

The oldest prehistoric evidence of settlement in the northern Haßberge comes from the Bronze Age . Barrows from this era have been found near Leuzendorf, for example. The burial mounds in the Daschendorfer Forest date from the Hallstatt period .

However, the area of ​​the southern Haßberge was already settled by humans in the Paleolithic . For example, hand axes and scrapers from this era were recovered from Zeil and Römershofen . The microliths (small devices) from Krum and Zeil are dated to the Mesolithic , the specimens from Haßfurt, however, to the Upper Palaeolithic . At Holzhausen, evidence of the ceramic band culture and the subsequent Rössen culture were found . The bell beaker culture of the Neolithic Age is illustrated by battle ax finds and the like. a. represented at Zeil and Bischofsheim.

The Bronze Age in Franconia generally begins relatively late with the Barrow Bronze Age . A very extensive complex of finds from this period was discovered near Stettfeld . The main valley also served as a settlement site in the early Iron Age. Hallstatt settlements have been documented in Augsfeld and Stettfeld. The coin find near Wülflingen in the Haßberg foreland comes from the Celtic Latène period . At the turn of the ages, advancing Germanic tribes finally overran the Celtic population in the Main area.

The pre-Christian settlement evidence in the Haßberg foreland can be found mainly in the area between Horhausen and Zeil am Main. This finding is possibly related to a Main ford between Horhausen and Theres , which could have played an important role as a north-south connection.

In the hill country some prehistoric and early medieval ramparts have been preserved, the exact timing of which is mostly speculative. The ring wall on the Schwedenschanze near Hofheim can be followed very well in the field . Between Altenstein and Lichtenstein there are two archaeological monuments in the forest, both of which are referred to as the "Old Castle" ( Old Castle (Altenstein) , Old Castle (Hafenpreppach) ). On the north-western edge of the Haßberge rises the striking Judenhügel, the mighty ramparts of which surround one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in Bavaria . The impressive rampart system was possibly created in its preserved form during the Hungarian storms of the 10th century AD. However, the traces of settlement on the mountain go back to prehistory.

middle Ages

The early medieval settlement of the Haßberge is evidence of u. a. Merovingian row graves in Mürsbach . The graves in Fischbach bei Ebern date from the Carolingian era.

After the disintegration of the Thuringian duchy in the early 8th century, Franconian settlers penetrated along the Main axis as far as the Haßberge and overlaid the old Thuringian pre-population. At the same time, West Slavic tribes poured into the Schweinfurt Gau from the east . The westward migration of these parts of the population was mainly triggered by the advance of the Avars . The Franconian landlords often allowed these "Wends" to settle and in some cases even put them on an equal footing with the other members of the Reich. In some cases, Slavic prisoners of war were probably used as planned to establish settlements. Numerous place names with the ending -wind still bear witness to this process. For example, the name of the municipality of Ditterswind points to the settlement of Wenden by a Franconian landlord Dieter or Dietrich. These Slavic settlements are found mainly in the north and east of the Haßberge (Bischwind, Geroldswind , Kurzewind, Voccawind ). The place name Ibind near Burgpreppach also goes back to Slavic origins. Originally the village was called "Immenwinds". The Wendish original settlers apparently preferred beekeeping and beekeeping here .

The Germanization of the Main-Rednitzwend was probably already largely completed shortly after the foundation of the Bamberg diocese . The diocese emerged mainly as a base for the Slavic mission .

The founding of the diocese again led to considerable conflicts with the Würzburg monastery . The diocese of Würzburg , which was established in 741, subsequently tried to secure its sphere of influence militarily against Bamberg. On the heights of the Haßberge, numerous castle complexes were built , which were occupied by knightly servants . Sometimes the seats of noble families who cooperated with the Bamberg diocese (Bramberg Castle) were seized by force .

The high medieval aristocratic clans in the Haßberge branched out into numerous branch lines. In the present, more than 40 former castles and noble residences testify to the complicated rule in this area.

In addition, some fortified cities and markets were created as administrative and economic centers. At the edge of the Haßberge, especially Seßlach, its medieval wall was almost completely preserved. In neighboring Ebern, too, extensive parts of the strong city ​​fortifications have been preserved. Both cities belonged to the Würzburg monastery.

Early modern age

From the 16th century the Haßberge were in the area of ​​the Franconian Empire . In the same century, the Franconian knight circle was brought into being for the knighthoods . During the German Peasant War (1525), violent riots broke out in the Haßberg mountains as well. The rebels destroyed and plundered numerous mansions of the nobility, against whose arrogance the uprising was mainly directed. After the bloody suppression of the revolt (Battle of Königshofen), the Würzburg bishop went on a punitive expedition through his abbey area. The ringleaders of the uprising were publicly beheaded in the marketplaces of the cities. Judgment was no less bloody in the bishopric of Bamberg.

The nobility took advantage of the opportunity and tried mostly successfully to break ties with the Hochstifte . Over the centuries, the knight families had acquired extensive allod property in addition to their fiefs . The destruction caused by the peasant uprising was compensated for by claims for damages that were often far too high . Numerous new palace buildings were built using these illegally claimed sums. Many of the former episcopal servants also joined the Reformation in order to break away from the old ties also in terms of denomination.

The cities had to prove themselves as bases of the Counter Reformation . Here the spread of the evangelical creed was violently suppressed. Many Protestant citizens had to migrate to Protestant territories. The evangelical town of Königsberg between Ebern and Haßfurt was particularly suitable here.

In the midst of the areas of the Hochstifte lay the tiny lordships of the nobility who began to establish themselves in the imperial knighthood, i.e. only accepted the emperor as overlord. The population here had to adopt the denomination of their masters.

Until the end of the Old Kingdom , the area continued to disintegrate into smaller units. This territorial dissection (fragmentation) has been characteristic. In addition to the spheres of influence of the two dioceses, the mediate of the Bamberg diocese (monasteries Banz , Langheim , Michelsberg, Dompropstei Bamberg) and the imperial knighthood, the Saxon exclave Königsberg was on the edge of the hill country.

Economic development

The cities developed into typical farming towns. In addition to their handicrafts , the citizens also ran agriculture . In addition to the residential buildings within the city ​​walls , the large gates have often been preserved, which allowed rural carts and wagons to enter the inner courtyard. The agricultural products were stored in barns and outbuildings and some were resold in the markets. The Mark Rentweinsdorf was supposedly gifted with the corresponding privileges as early as 1248. Other market places were u. a. Ebern, Seßlach, Pfarrweisach, Maroldsweisach, Burgpreppach, Haßfurt, Zeil and Königsberg.

Since the 15th century the craftsmen organized themselves in guilds . In 1484, for example, the Ebern dye and cloth maker guild was founded. A particularly rich guild life unfolded in Seßlach. The regulations of bakers , butters , turners , linen weavers, painters and sculptors, butchers , millers, chimneys, locksmiths , joiners , tailors, stone carvers , shoemakers, wagons and bricklayers have been preserved in the city ​​archive . In the rule of the Imperial Knights, too, the craftsmen formed guilds. Weaver guilds existed a. in Eyrichshof and Altenstein, locksmith and wagner guilds in Rentweinsdorf and Stöckach. In Hafenpreppach there was a pottery guild, according to the place name , and a bakers guild in Gereuth and Rügheim.

In addition to agriculture and handicrafts, forestry was one of the most productive sources of income. Large forest areas are still owned by cities, municipalities and the landed gentry to this day. The Baunach-Itz hill country is largely covered by large mixed forests, which are only interrupted by the narrow river valleys and the cleared islands.

17./18. century

During the Thirty Years' War , the building site was particularly hard hit by numerous troops moving through and billeting. The soldiers also spread epidemics such as the plague in towns and villages. As in other places, there were numerous rapes and homicides . Some villages have even been completely depopulated.

The small town of Zeil in Bamberg developed between 1616 and 1631 into a stronghold of the witch hunt in the bishopric of Bamberg. The fanatical “witch-burner” Prince-Bishop Johann Georg II. Fuchs von Dornheim had many, above all wealthy, citizens of his residence town transferred to Zeil, tried and executed there. The often considerable fortunes were confiscated from the witch judges. The citizens had to set up additional detention cells in the towers of the city fortifications in order to cope with the flood of the accused. Under the torture , the numerous suspicious women in particular often accused fellow citizens and relatives, who then also fell victim to the delusion. A total of around 1000 people - including around 750 women - were murdered during the witch hunts in the Bamberg monastery. The crimes could only be ended by the intervention of the Reichshofrat .

After the Peace of Westphalia , however, a remarkable upswing began, especially in the areas of the Würzburg monastery, which is comparable to the “ economic miracle ” after the Second World War. Under the reign of Prince-Bishop Johann Philipp von Schönborn, the bishopric developed into an "officially supervised welfare state with a mercantile orientation" (Otto Meyer).

The population losses were partially offset by the settlement of displaced Silesians and Bohemians . "Eastern European" surnames in the Haßberge do not only go back to the influx of expellees after the Second World War. The Protestant imperial knighthood also accepted numerous Jewish families who had been expelled from the Catholic monasteries in their territories. However, this was not done out of pure philanthropy. The "protection Jews" had to raise high protection money and taxes, so they were a lucrative source of income for the landlords. Up until the Second World War, the Jewish population in such imperial knighthood villages was up to 60 percent. For example, the ancestors of the former American Foreign Minister Henry Kissinger come from Ermershausen near Maroldsweisach. In the 19th century, some Jewish families in the Haßberge also converted to the Christian faith. These sexes were quickly absorbed in the Franconian population. Today the synagogue in Memmelsdorf (Ufr.) And some cemeteries (Jüdischer Friedhof Ebern, Jüdische Friedhöfe Ermershausen, Burgpreppach etc.) remind of the former importance of rural Jewry in the Haßbergen. The Gottesacker on the Judenhügel near Kleinbardorf is one of the largest such cemetery complexes in Bavaria.

A lot of building activity developed, which shapes the image of numerous historical town centers to this day. In the half-timbered building magnificent figurations with Andrew's crosses, diamonds and andirons were developed. One of the most important monuments of this era is the gable of the town hall in Ebern. Mürsbach, on the edge of the Haßberge, is counted among the most valuable village ensembles in Franconia. The half-timbered town of Königsberg is known far beyond the borders of the region and, as a former Saxon exclave, represents a historical curiosity in the territorial patchwork carpet of the mountains.

The military campaigns during the War of the Austrian Succession , the Seven Years' War and the Napoleonic Wars caused further unrest in the 17th and 18th centuries . Especially the passage of imperial Croats remained alive in the popular consciousness up to the present day. The swear word “Kravatt”, which is popular in the region, is only rarely used.

19./20. century

After the Peace of Lunéville , the two Hochstifte Bamberg and Würzburg were secularized in 1802/03 and occupied by Bavarian troops. The victorious Napoleon had allowed the great territorial lords to incorporate the monasteries and monasteries to compensate for the areas on the left bank of the Rhine ceded to France .

Even the free imperial knights lost their independence and their imperial patrons with the end of the Old Empire. The former bishopric of Würzburg was ruled as the "Grand Duchy of Tuscany" ( Grand Duchy of Würzburg ) between 1806 and 1814 by Archduke Ferdinand of Austria (Grand Duke of Tuscany). However, this small state was dissolved again in 1814/15 and transferred to the Kingdom of Bavaria , which had been created in the meantime . During the Wars of Liberation , the Grand Duchy of Würzburg sided with Napoleon, who had been defeated in the Battle of Leipzig in October 1813 .

During the revolution of 1848 , some liberals from the Haßbergs had to pay for their participation in the Bamberg Democratic Congress with shorter prison terms. Other revolutionary activities were nipped in the bud by the vigilante groups established at that time .

The Prussian-Austrian "brotherly war" ( German War ) of 1866 largely spared the Haßberge. Only the nearby Königshofen in the Grabfeld was affected by major fighting.

The Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71 cost some soldiers from the Haßberge their lives. The losses of the First World War were far more numerous , when the town of Ebern alone had 41 casualties.

The revolutionary period of 1918/19 was nevertheless rather calm in the Baunach-Itz hill country. After the murder of Prime Minister Kurt Eisner , the Bavarian state parliament fled to Bamberg in February 1919. In the first Reichstag elections (1920), the conservative parties in the Haßbergen emerged victorious.

In July 1920, the Free State of Coburg united after a referendum with Bavaria. Since then, the half-timbered town of Königsberg has also been part of today's Free State, which was long an exclave of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in the middle of Franconia.

The inflation of 1923 and the global economic crisis of 1929/32 strengthened the National Socialist movement. The election of 1933, however, confirmed the conservative Bavarian People's Party as the dominant political grouping. The NSDAP achieved about a third fewer percentage points. The first local NSDAP groups came into being in the 1920s.

During the Second World War , several hundred warriors from the former districts of Ebern , Haßfurt and Hofheim fell . The frontline soldiers were particularly absent in agriculture and forestry and were replaced by numerous foreign workers and prisoners of war . These assistants had to live in barracks camps , often under inhumane conditions . A few foreign workers, on the other hand, were treated well by their farm masters and stayed in the region after the war.

The rich Jewish past of the Haßberge was almost completely wiped out during the Nazi dictatorship. The Jewish population was deported to the extermination camps and murdered. Some individuals and families managed to emigrate to America or Palestine on time . However, numerous Jews emigrated as early as the 19th and early 20th centuries. The often poor rural Jews from the former imperial knighthood villages mostly eke out their existence as cattle dealers, small farmers or peddlers .

In April 1945, the American forces advanced into the Haßberge. The occupation was largely bloodless. Except for the bombing of the Haßfurt Main Bridge, no major damage was recorded. Shortly before the end of the war, passing SS units shot dead four German deserters in the courtyard of the Ebern prison.

After the Second World War

The division of Germany moved the region from the center of the country to the edge of the newly emerging Federal Republic . The Haßberge lost their historical hinterland in the Franconian part of southern Thuringia . Despite this unfavorable location on the edge of the zone , numerous expellees settled there. Large new development areas grew around the historic settlement centers of the towns in the Main Valley. A special settlement focus in the north was Ebern. A branch of the Schweinfurt company Kugelfischer was established here during the war , which was expanded during the "economic miracle". To the present day, this automotive supplier is one of the largest employers in the Haßberge ( FTE automotive ).

As a result of the regional reform of 1972, the three old districts of Ebern, Haßfurt and Hofheim were dissolved and largely merged to form the district of Haßberge. Since then, some peripheral areas of the Ebern district have belonged to the Bamberg and Coburg districts in Upper Franconia . The Haßberge district itself extends south across the Main into the Steigerwald.

The unexpected reunification of the two German states was initially received very positively in the Haßberg Mountains. However, job seekers from the new federal states quickly pushed into the industrial locations of the structurally weak hill country, which occasionally led to tensions.

Structural problems also arose at the end of the 20th century through the relocation of numerous industrial jobs abroad and the dissolution of some offices, for example through the Bavarian forest reform. In addition, the Bundeswehr site in Ebern (Balthasar-Neumann barracks) was given up. A large motorsport and off-road park was to be built on the large adjacent training area . These highly controversial plans have since been abandoned.

Even two decades after the border fell, the region is still largely oriented towards the south and west, where the regional centers of Bamberg and Schweinfurt offer further opportunities for business and shopping. After the turn of the millennium, parts of the Haßberge were even included in the " Metropolitan Region of Nuremberg ".

Haßberge cultural landscape

The portal of the Hetschingsmühle near Ebern
The town hall of Baunach
Rauheneck Castle near Vorbach

The Haßberge offer the visitor an unusual wealth of historical monuments and sights. The area, somewhat in the tourist shadow of the Bamberg World Heritage Site, is still largely shaped by its traditional farming culture. In many villages, time seems to have stood still shortly after the Second World War. Most of the village images have not been broken up by new buildings, and the local half-timbered construction still dominates. Ornate farm gates often lead into the farm work areas. The most famous of these gates has been preserved in Baunach. However, the “Wooden Men” are no longer in their original location.

In addition to the rural culture, the aristocratic culture determines the image of the cultural landscape. In almost every village there is a smaller or larger aristocratic seat. About a quarter of all castles in Lower Franconia are in the Haßbergen or in the immediate foreland. The original headquarters of the many noble families have mostly only been preserved as ruins. The south castle of the large Ganerbeburg Lichtenstein over Pfarrweisach is still inhabited. With the Brennhausen bordering on the grave field a particularly striking example of late medieval civil architecture was preserved. The ruins of Rauheneck , Bramberg , Wildberg , step castle , Rotenhan and Schmachtenberg lie lonely in the woods . The Altenstein castle ruin dominates the landscape and towers over the Weisach valley. The remains of Königsberg Castle above the half-timbered town of the same name have been greatly renewed .

Of the early modern and baroque castles, the complexes in Birkenfeld , Burgpreppach , Eyrichshof , Friesenhausen , Gereuth , Heilgersdorf are particularly important . Kirchlauter , Oberschwappach , Rentweinsdorf and Wetzhausen should be mentioned. An inside inspection of these privately owned facilities is usually not possible. Even an outside tour is only reluctantly tolerated by some owners. The old aristocratic families still have extensive property in the forest mountains and are still recognized as village patrons in many places.

The former official cities of the two Hochstifte and the "Klein-Rothenburg" Königsberg were able to preserve their historical cityscapes. In Ebern and Seßlach, the strong city fortifications testify to the numerous political conflicts in this region. The Ebern gray tower with its carillon is considered one of the most beautiful gate towers in Germany.

From the abundance of numerous sacred buildings, the Romanesque church of St. Michael in Obermerzbach and the Gothic parish church of St. Laurentius in Ebern, the Marienkirche in Königsberg and the parish church of St. Kilian in Haßfurt should be emphasized. Today's district town of the Haßberge district also has one of the most important Gothic monuments in Eastern Franconia with its knight's chapel. Often very splendid grave monuments of the nobility, which are of particular interest in terms of costume history, have been preserved in the churches. The church in Wetzhausen, for example, contains a whole “ancestral gallery”. Some places of worship even keep top works from the two cultural centers Bamberg and Würzburg. By Tilman Riemenschneider two sculptures come in Hassfurt, a remarkable late Gothic altarpiece is in the Protestant parish church under Hohenried.

Characteristic evidence of popular piety are the countless wayside shrines and field crosses in the villages, towns and fields. The most beautiful historical bridge in the Haßberge spans the Baunach near Frickendorf (town of Ebern). The baroque river crossing with its four sandstone figures is reminiscent of the large Main Bridge under the Marienberg Fortress in Würzburg. At the edge of the village, the brick entrances to the Franconian rock cellars often form impressive ensembles.

Personalities from the Haßberge

Memorial plaque for Johannes Müller ( Regiomontanus ) in Rome ( Campo Santo Teutonico )
The three brothers tomb in Rentweinsdorf with the portrait of Sebastian von Rotenhans (left)

The most important son of the Haßberge is the mathematician and astronomer Johann (es) Müller (Molitor) from Königsberg, who achieved world fame as Regiomontanus (Königsberger). In the 20th century even a moon crater (Regiomontanus) was named after the Königsberger. The presumed birthplace of the genius on the city's salt market was extensively restored in the 19th century and given a plaque.

The humanist Sebastian von Rotenhan from Rentweinsdorf is less well known . This offspring of one of the most influential noble families in the region created the first map of Franconia. His epitaph has been preserved in the parish church in Rentweinsdorf. The culturally and historically interesting memorial stone shows the knight together with his two brothers (three brothers tomb).

The poet , orientalist and translator Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866) has been rediscovered . The enthusiasm, always in “old German” costume, lived from 1793 to 1802 as the bailiff's son in Oberlauringen . Rückert spent formative youth in Seßlach and Ebern. Some early works were created here, among others, dedicated to two young beauties of the Haßberge ( Agnes' funeral , Amaryllis ). From 1813 Rückert regularly visited the "Musenhof" of Baron Christian Truchseß von Wetzhausen on the Bettenburg near Hofheim, where he could exchange ideas with some like-minded people.

The works of the “Haßgaudichters” Edmund Stubenrauch (1859–1925) are currently only rarely taken into account. In 1896, however, the farmer's son from Hellingen near Königsberg was even awarded the "Schiller Prize" of the German Schiller Foundation for his literary work. A particular admirer of the poetry of the peasant poet (“plow and lute”) was Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. His successor, Duke Alfred , awarded the poet the great silver medal of the duchy "for special services to art and science". Stubenrauch spent most of the last three decades of his life in a state of mental derangement. A few years before his death, however, he was able to return to his family in Hellingen. A simple memorial stone in the Hellingen cemetery reminds of the poet.

The "Haßgaulied" by Friesenhausen pastor JB Hofmann is still sung in the region today:

Between the Rhön and Steigerwald
there are quite a few beautiful districts,
which in a magical shape
are even lovely to look at,
But the Haßgau is above
all ours!
Wonderfully beautiful, wonderfully beautiful,
Are o Haßgau, your heights!

(Verse 1)

Fritz Sauckel, who was born in Hassfurt, was executed in Nuremberg in 1946 as one of the main German war criminals . Sauckel had to answer in particular for the forced deportation of over 5 million foreign and forced laborers into the German Reich.


The Haßberge are increasingly considered an ideal family hiking area because of their large forest areas and the charming landscape. There is a maximum difference in altitude of 150 meters to overcome, but the climbs are occasionally very steep. Many paths run for miles almost flat over the ridges. One of these numerous hiking trails is the Rennweg , which runs along almost the entire Haßbergtrauf and ends at the Wildberg ruins. In earlier times it was a Coburg messenger route.

The numerous historical sights are connected by a number of marked routes. In addition to the “Castles and Palaces” hiking trail, the “ Haßberge Castle History Trail ” and the “Celtic Experience Trail”, a section of the 250 km long “Half-timbered Romantic Road” leads through the small mountains.

After the turn of the millennium, increased efforts were made to exploit the unusual wealth of castles and palaces in the Haßberge for tourism. Some of the castle ruins were extensively renovated or at least made safe and made accessible through information boards and brochures . The castles that were still inhabited were also included in the advertising for the “land of castles, palaces and ruins”. However, this led to unexpected conflicts with some of the owners, who resist “advertising with private property ” and sometimes react unfriendly to visitors to their property. However, these castle complexes were often renovated with the use of considerable government funding.

The world cultural heritage "Old Town Bamberg" is only a few kilometers south of the Haßberge. The former ducal town of Coburg and the Upper Main Valley with the Banz Monastery and the Vierzehnheiligen pilgrimage church can also be reached on short trips by bike. The “ Steigerwald Nature Park ” begins south of the Main, and its landscape is reminiscent of the Haßberge.

There are no large hotel complexes in the Haßberge. However, numerous inns and private landlords offer accommodation and holiday apartments . Four camping and a few mobile home sites with sanitary facilities complete the offer. The central "tourist information" of the Haßberge is located in Hofheim, larger communities have their own tourist offices .

In addition to tennis courts, miniature golf courses, jogging paths and other athletic facilities especially that offer free - and indoor swimming pools in the region numerous opportunities for recreational activities. The high-altitude outdoor pool on the Losberg near Ebern is known nationwide. The much smaller outdoor pool in Altenstein was also laid out in a location with great views. Larger bathing lakes can be found near the Main ("Sander Baggersee"). In the heart of the Haßberge lies the recreation area "Weißfichtensee" (large children's playground ) under the "Stachel", one of the most striking elevations in the forest mountains.

Haßberge Nature Park

The Haßberge are designated as a nature park as part of the Haßberge Nature Park, although Haßberge and Nature Park are not congruent in terms of area. In the park, special emphasis is placed on nature and landscape protection .

Some barrier-free hiking trails also allow wheelchair users to make long trips and to independently reach some viewpoints. By 2011, the existing “Castle and Palaces Path” is to be expanded into a “Quality Path”.

Esoteric and occult tourism

Alleged "shaman's head" in front of the "Schneidersloch" at Lichtenstein Castle . In fact, this is a mascaron that was only carved out of the foundation bench of the Palas around 1850
“Torstein” in the “Druidenhain” at “Merzbacher Point” near Buch

At the end of the 20th century a real esoteric tourism set in, especially in the northern Haßberge . Some lay researchers who were interested in the matter discovered the rock castles of the region in particular and reinterpreted these structures into prehistoric places of worship, some of which were of global importance. The medieval rock excavations and foundation banks of ruins such as Rotenhan or Lichtenstein were presented to numerous believers from all over Europe as prehistoric “healing banks” or “ shaman's seats” . The visitors caused considerable damage to the substance of the monuments, and the flora and fauna around the “cult sites” were also severely impaired. The north castle in Lichtenstein even had to be fenced in. At Jesserndorf, several “healing stones” weighing tons were loaded onto a truck during the night and have since disappeared.

The Haßberge district finally decided to have some particularly esoterically used castle ruins scientifically researched ( Joachim Zeune ) in order to finally refute any speculations in this regard. As expected, the investigations did not reveal any evidence of a pre-medieval use of these objects. The oldest artifacts found date from the High Middle Ages .

After the exploration of the castles and the establishment of the groundbreaking "Castle History Educational Trail", esoteric activities in the Haßberge have clearly declined. However, relevant tours are still offered and related literature is published (Werner Pfeil: Besiedlungsspuren am Burgenlehrpfad , 2005) In addition to the castle ruins, the house-high rock formations, mostly rising suddenly in the forest, such as the “Baalstein” near Lichtenstein or the “ Teufelsstein ” rock castle stables, still stand out many interested in. The “healing path” in the former quarry and village dance area near Buch (“ Druidenhain ”) has meanwhile been abandoned.


A section of the B 303 runs through the Haßberge and to the north-east past one of the B 279 , from which numerous state and district roads branch out into the nature park landscape. The eastern Haßberge are well connected to the supra-regional motorway network through the Breitengüßbach junction of the federal motorway 73 . The federal highway 70 runs south of the Main as a fast connection between Schweinfurt and Bamberg.

The Bamberg – Schweinfurt – Würzburg railway line with the Haßfurt RE station is on the north side of the Main . In Breitengüßbach , the branch line (course book route 826) branches off to Ebern from the main line Bamberg – Hof .


  • Karlheinz Fuchs: Hassberge - an art and culture guide through the district . Hassfurt 2003.
  • Gerd Geyer, Hermann Schmidt-Kaler: The Haßberge and their foreland. (Walks in die Erdgeschichte, 20), Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-89937-067-6 .
  • Hatred Mountains. (Edition Bayern, 2: House of Bavarian History ), Regensburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-7917-2239-9 .
  • The mountains of hatred. (Journal of the Haßberg Association), Ermershausen 1986–1999.
  • The Haßgau - the land of palaces, castles and ruins. revised Ed., Hofheim 1977.
  • Helmut Hey: Road of half-timbered romanticism - around 250 km through the land of Franconia, a practical guide through the Haßberge Nature Park ... for motorists and the like. Walker. Schweinfurt 1988, ISBN 3-9801955-0-3 .
  • Heinrich Höllerl: Mountains of Hate. Hof (Saale) 1979, ISBN 3-921615-28-3 .
  • Christa Jäger, Wolfgang Jäger: The famine years 1816–1817 in today's Haßberge district. (Series of publications by the historical association Landkreis Haßberge eV, supplements, issue 6), Haßfurt 2008, ISBN 3-938438-10-X .
  • Cordula Kappner: From the Jewish history of today's Haßberge district - on the 60th anniversary of the Reichspogromnacht on 9/10 November 1998. revised. New edition, Haßfurt 1998
  • Herbert Kößler: Hofheim. ( Historical Atlas of Bavaria , Part Franconia, Series I, Issue 13), Munich 1964.
  • Gerhard C. Krischker, Erich Weiß: My Haßberge - the Haßberge book. Bamberg 2000, ISBN 3-928648-57-8 .
  • Georg Ludwig Lehnes : History of the Baunach reason in Lower Franconia. Würzburg 1842. (Reprint Neustadt an der Aisch, 2005. ISBN 3-89557-251-9 ). First published in: Journal of the historical association of Lower Franconia. Vol. 7, Issue 1, 1841.
  • Isolde Maierhöfer: Boars. (Historical Atlas of Bavaria, Part Franconia, Series I, Issue 15), Munich 1964.
  • Lenz Meierott (among others): Flora of the Haßberge and the Grabfelds - new flora of Schweinfurt. 2 volumes, Eching 2008, ISBN 978-3-930167-70-8 .
  • Rüdiger Reining: Our district of Haßberge -e. Brochure d. District. Bamberg 1988, ISBN 3-87052-942-3 .
  • Sandstones and clays of the Haßberge and the Obermaing area (Rhät-Lias and Buntsandstein). Geological State Office, Munich 2005.
  • Alexander Tittmann: Haßfurt. The former district (=  Historical Atlas of Bavaria, Part I francs . Band 33 ). Commission for Bavarian State History, Munich 2003, ISBN 978-3-7696-6851-3 , ISBN 978-3-7696-9696-7 ( limited preview in Google book search).

Web links

Commons : Haßberge  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Map services of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation ( information )
  2. Jakob Amstadt: South Germanic Religion since the Migration Period . Kohlhammer, Stuttgart Berlin Cologne 1991, ISBN 3-17-011281-3 , p. 155 .
  3. Attribution z. B. by Georg Ludwig Lehnes , the first chronicler of the Baunachgrund; Naturally soberly named as Altensteiner Rhätolias-Ridge , see # Natural Spatial Structure .
  4. (W. Götz: Geographisch-historisches Handbuch von Bayern, Vol. 2. Munich, 1898, p. 501ff), referenced in the Historisches Atlas Bayern
  5. Issue 13 Hofheim, pp. 2–5 , Historischer Atlas Bayern
  6. Heinz Späth: Geographical Land Survey: The natural spatial units on sheet 141 Coburg - Federal Institute for Regional Studies, Bad Godesberg 1987 → online map
  7. ^ E. Meynen and J. Schmithüsen : Handbook of the natural spatial structure of Germany - Federal Institute for Regional Studies, Remagen / Bad Godesberg 1953–1962 (9 deliveries in 8 books, updated map 1: 1,000,000 with main units 1960)