Half-timbering attracts people, hardly anyone can escape its fascination. The medieval town centres convey a sense of home, offer security and have a calming effect on residents and visitors. What is the reason? No two historic half-timbered houses are the same; each has its own individual charm and its very own history. Half-timbered houses provide an insight into the way of life of past centuries and are an expression of craftsmanship with an infinite wealth of forms, ornamentation and symbolism. Roughly axed beams, crooked walls or sloping floors give the houses their often picturesque appearance, which enchants their viewers.
On a journey through history, you will visit ten very well preserved half-timbered towns with historic town centres and medieval flair. Many of them have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The selection of half-timbered towns worth seeing could be extended at will. The "German Half-Timbered Houses Route" brings together more than 100 towns with characteristic half-timbered buildings. You would have to travel a good 3,500 km to see them all: from the Elbe (Stade) in the north to Lake Constance (Meersburg) in the south.
The Lower Saxon municipality of Goslar, like Einbeck 60 kilometres away, has a multitude of colourfully restored and richly decorated half-timbered buildings.
On site: Romantik Hotel Alte Münze
The timber-framed buildings of this cathedral and imperial city, rich in history, are among the oldest half-timbered houses in Hesse today. Particularly worth seeing: the historic market square.
The half-timbered houses that adorn the city centre are witnesses to history. In the historic old town you can marvel at over 200 listed buildings.
On site: Romantik Hotel Zum Stern
A magnificent half-timbered ensemble forms the old town of the Moselle town, the highlight of which is the medieval market square with the Renaissance town hall.
The town on the edge of the Harz Mountains is considered the half-timbered community par excellence - more than 1,300 half-timbered houses from six centuries, from the Middle Ages to Classicism, stand here in a confined space.
On site: Romantik Hotel am Brühl
Königsberg in Lower Franconia is a picture-perfect small town. The listed old town is dominated by half-timbered facades from different eras.
The city on the River Regnitz has the largest intact old town in Germany (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The ensemble is characterised by half-timbered houses from the Middle Ages.
Visitors to Germany's most famous half-timbered town feel transported back to the Middle Ages. The largely preserved old town has become a symbol of German romanticism.
On site: Romantik Hotel Markusturm
More than 200 half-timbered buildings from the 13th to 16th centuries can be admired in the town on the Neckar. Probably the oldest of them is in Heugasse. It was built in 1261.
The particularly well-preserved old town is characterised by half-timbered houses whose origins date back to the 15th century. The most powerful among them, the Fruchtkasten, was used for storage.
Although Germany is considered the classic country of half-timbered houses, timber construction is also part of the architectural tradition in many neighbouring countries.
Austria / Switzerland
Classic half-timbering is quite rare in Austria; only in Vorarlberg are individual houses to be found. In the north-eastern part of Switzerland, the Zürcher Weinland and in Thurgau, many old farmhouses are built of half-timbering. In Switzerland they are called Riegelhäuser.
Belgium / Netherlands
Half-timbered houses were built in Belgium and the Netherlands only in a few provinces. In the Netherlands they are mainly found in the province of Limburg and in Belgium in the provinces of Luxembourg, Limburg and Liège.
The half-timbered houses in the French Alsace look very similar to the typical German half-timbering. Further west, in Champagne or Normandy, a typical French half-timbered style developed around 1600.
Half-timbered houses have been built in Britain since the Middle Ages. They are often strongly reminiscent of the French half-timbered style. A particularly striking appearance is the Tudor style, which characterised townhouse architecture in the late Middle Ages (around 1500).
What is a half-timbered house made of?
The basis for half-timbered construction was and is wood as a building material. Half-timbered structures are a wood-saving skeleton construction method with only load-bearing timber and non-load-bearing infill made of clay or bricks. The main function of the timber components is to carry the load. The various timbers have to absorb the loads and transfer them to the foundation or the stone base. Half-timbering is a highly ecological, environmentally friendly construction method that fits particularly well into today's world.
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