NEULEININGEN, GERMANY – A HIDDEN GEM

Along the wine route of the romantic Palatinate region of Germany sits the sleepy historical town of Neuleiningen, where one has the feeling that time has stood still. It is a place of picturesque quaint houses, numerous flower boxes, centuries old fortified walls, cobbled streets with not a single multi-storied modern construction in sight.  Well preserved timber-frame houses (16th/17th century), some with oriel windows, characterise the village centre’s narrow lanes. Many of the buildings have histories reaching back to the Middle Ages

The Pfarrkirche St. Nikolaus was built in the 13th century as a castle chapel at the same time as the castle itself. Neuleiningen belonged until 1969 to the now abolished district of Frankenthal, where my friends live.  Perched on the top of a hill (300m above sea level} is an impressive ruined castle built on the model of many French castles in the 1240s.  From the castle’s lookout tower one has an outstanding view of the Upper Rhine Plain in the east and the Palatinate Forest’s mountains in the west.   Adjacent to the castle is the Alte Pfarrey (“Old Rectory”) which was first recorded in 1524 and today houses a gourmet restaurant and hotel.

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After a wonderful afternoon wandering the cobbled streets of Neuleiningen with my German friends we sat to share afternoon tea in the Alte Pfarrey.  Although the tables were ready for a reception we were made very welcome. I would have loved to have known what was being said during a conversation in German but there were many smiles and I came away with a gift of apricot jam, preserved from locally grown fruit. It was a very good day.

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