Sunday, April 3, 2016


 One of my favorite small towns in Germany is Idstein....about 30 minutes driving north of Wiesbaden.

If you were looking for a town of 25,000 residents....which had everything (major indoor pool/fitness center, golf course, train station, shopping, and a medieval look) this fits perfectly.

If you work out of Frankfurt, it's one of those distant locations that has a S-Bahn train which only takes around 35 minutes and puts you way outside of the urban footprint of Frankfurt, and gives you the small-town feeling.

My big attraction to the city?  The history.

Before 1102, it doesn't exist.  Some Duke or Lord went and got a 'permit' (probably pleasing the authority over this with a 'gift') and received permission from the Hapsburg Empire (of Austria) to build on the site.  The original name was Etichenstein.

For 619 years, it was the residence of the count of Idstein-Nassau.

Somewhere along the 1670s to 1690s....the count and his son....would arrive to period where witch trials were conducted and numerous women met their unfortunate end.

The peak of this was 1676....where for 13 months....numerous individuals were identified as witches and executed.  Local records indicate 31 women and 8 men were in the group.

What history records is that the count had this belief that the death of his wife and having several cattle to die along the same time period....convinced him of some evil witch operation in progress.

The curious part of this whole episode is that after you were detained....they went into an interrogation episode....where you were supposed to name associates.  Naturally, you might be stupid enough to think that by naming someone....anyone....that this might get you off the hook.  Sometimes, it did and sometimes it didn't.  So as weeks went by....more people got dragged in and accusations continued as the sun rose and sat.

Oddly enough, court records captured the bulk of the events....names, ages, and professions, along with the confession that most made or conveyed to the legal authority.

The event ends....only when Count Johann passes away at age 74.  Had he not died....the entire affair would have continued on and on.

So, if you have a day....Idstein is easily accessible by train.  Head east out of the station, along Wiesbaden Strasse for about 20 minutes, and you will note to the right side a cobblestone street by the name of Rodergasse.  This is the beginning of the old city section, and where the 'witches tower' will eventually be found.  A good walk, with a coffee stop, a climb to the top of the tower, and return to the station will take up to five hours.

1 comment:

Troy Swezey said...

The last photo in this series is a clear image of one of the many things I miss about Wiesbaden and Europe in general.
Thank you for sharing.