Portrait of a City
Witzenhausen - Cherry- and University town in the Werra valley
The Cherry- and University town of Witzenhausen is attractively situated in the romantic valley of the river Werra being the centre of one of the largest and oldest areas of cherry growing in Germany. The attractive old city-centre with its survival of half-timbered houses gives evidence of medieval culture and architecture. Witzenhausen has been successful in preserving both the old and the same time being open for the new. Thus the smallest university-town of Germany is the location of the faculty of organic agriculture of the University of Kassel, the first in Europe.
The 16 quarters of the town are situated in the centre of numerous cherry orchards and wooded hills. These villages are often the ideal starting point for walking tours into the surrounding area, e.g. the lookout "Bilstein" (altitude 642m in the wildlife park Kaufunger Wald) or the famous "Zwei-Burgen-Blick", a view at two castles, the Youth Hostel Castle "Ludwigstein" and the castle ruins of "Hanstein" across the Werra river in Thuringia.
Visitors to the city will find a broad spectrum of sports, fun and fitness from the mineral water baths, both indoor and outdoor, to tennis, sqash, riding, bowling, minigolf or gliding flight. Well-market biking trails as e.g. the "Werratal-Radweg" will take you into the beauties of the cherry-area, or alternatively with boat trips on the Werra. Besides friends of a good drink will get their money's worth enjoying sour cherry wine in one of the neat restaurants or wine bars. The same applies to the special beers of the local brewery.
The town's symbol, the cherry, has for centuries determined the course of the year. The cherry blossoms are certainly a special event for the visitors of the "Witzenhausen week", particularly on the walks through special blossom trails. At the time of the cherry picking on the second weekend of July we celebrate the great cherry and old town festival. Many visitors flock into the city in order to take part in the festivities and greet the new Cherry Queen or join in the competition of cherry-stone-spitting.
The name of Witzenhausen is apart from the cherries world-famous for the university with its greenhouses for tropical and subtropical plants. Thanks to modern technology cocoa, coffee, lemons, oranges, bananas and many exotic plants are growing well. The greenhouses are not only used for training and research, but also open for interested visitors. On the premises, a Museum of Ethnology has been established in a beautiful half-timbered mansion. Numerous exhibits from various cultures show the wide variety of human life now and then.
But still the city itself with its historic buildings and the ancient walls is attractive and worth a long walk.