As part of the Spring Easter celebration in Germany’s Franconian Switzerland (Fränkische Schweiz) area in northern Bavaria, residents of small villages and larger cities alike affix evergreens and handpainted Easter eggs to the central fountains on their respective squares.
The tradition is so popular that thousands flock to tour the area just to see the decorations. Local tourist offices and travel agencies alike book bus tours as well as guided or non-guided hiking or biking tours for the occasion. In addition, many people drive their own cars in a circuit to see the spectacular displays.
Easter Eggs on Evergreens and Other Decorations
Osterbrunnen are decorations of village water fountains displayed each Easter. A framework is affixed to the fountain and evergreen branches cover that. Villagers hang hundreds of delicate Easter eggs on the branches. In addition, the larger places have other displays such as playful chicken coops, stuffed rabbits in the adjoining field, or baskets of “hatching” toy chicks.
Visit Germany Before Easter for Best Photographs
Church groups and other community organizations spend the winter preparing the displays. A majority of the eggs are real eggshells hollowed out and painted each year. The Osterbrunnen are constructed about two weeks before Easter and are left up for a week afterward. Viewing is best before Easter because the greenery is fresher, which makes for the best photos. Some areas, such as Amberg-Sulzbacher, offer “Photo Safari” tours.
Enjoy Refreshments in the Bavarian Spring Sunshine
Some villages are well known for having the best or biggest display and set up stalls near their fountains where visitors can get refreshments or postcards. Tour buses bring groups to the larger villages where they can find parking, and the local pubs and coffee shops arrange tables outside for possibly the first time since the previous summer. People relax in the sunshine with a refreshing beer, knowing that the harsh German winter is over.
Take Autobahn 73, 70 or 9 to Fränkische Schweiz and Follow the Signs
If a traveler is at all comfortable with driving in Germany, taking a private car is the best way to see the fountains. The area is bordered more or less by Autobahn 73 on the west, Autobahn 9 in the east and Autobahn 70 in the north. The best thing to do is obtain a map from a travel agent for Fränkische Schweiz. Because the area is a well-known tourist retreat, getting a map is very easy.
Elaborate Easter Fountains in Heiligenstadt and Bieberbach
Once drivers reach the area, there are plenty of signs leading them on a circuit to see the fountains, large and small. A good starting place is Heiligenstadt in Oberfranken, and Bieberbach has the largest display with a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records. Many signs along the roads in this area will lead tourists to the next decorated fountain.
Bus Tours for Osterbrunnen
Bus tours abound taking tourists to see the fountains. Prices for these tours vary depending on the location of origin, timeframe, and items included. Tours originate anywhere from the local village town hall to Munich and places in Austria and can include overnight stays and meals. Local tours usually cost around 20 Euros (about $30) for four or five hours of guided touring with a stop at a local Gasthaus or pub for a snack (not included in the price).
Cycling and Hiking in Franconian Switzerland
Because the surrounding area is a park and nature preserve, there are many biking and hiking paths with ample parking at the trail heads. Walkers and riders can choose a comfortable circuit and travel often paved paths through stunning scenery, visiting local churches and pubs at their leisure. German motorists are quite respectful of walkers and cyclists, so it is a safe choice for active people. Every local tourist information office offers maps for hikers and bikers, as well as information on any guided tours offered.