Gengenbach Travel Guide

Browse 12 travel reviews, 3 travel blogs and 293 travel photos from real travelers to Gengenbach.

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Gengenbach Overview

Gengenbach is the prettiest among the row of interesting towns and villages in the Kinzig Valley, the large valley which divides the Black Forest into a Northern and a Southern part.

Gengenbach may look small but it is not a village. It is a town, and the inhabitants are proud of their history as a Free Imperial City. The town developed from a settlement by the abbey since the early middle ages. Around 1350/60 it gained the status as Reichsstadt and independence from the abbey. The boundaries of this small settlement contained two independent states of the Holy Roman Empire, both with no other governor but the emperor: the imperial abbey on the one hand, the city on the other. Gengenbach was not the smallest imperial city, though, this trophy goes to nearby Zell am Harmersbach.

While the abbey stayed with the Roman Catholic confession, the city introduced the Reformation in the second quarter of the 16th century. In 1803 both lost their independence and became part of the Electorate, then Grand-Duchy of Baden.

The fortifications and towers and the palace-like town hall tell of the city's high self-esteem in those times when they had the status of a Reichsstadt, and their competition with their neighbour, the abbey. The towers have the black eagle, the crest of the Holy Roman Empire, painted above the gate.

When discussing the Black Forest, this charming old town is frequently recommended as a destination. The old centre matches the imagination of a "medieval" town that most overseas tourists have in their heads. Thing is, though, that Gengenbach like most cities and towns in Germany's Southwest was burned to ashes in the war of 1689. These houses are not medieval but date from the 18th and 19th century.

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