Walberla, a plateau at the edge of Franconian Switzerland in Upper Franconia, Bavaria, is a legendary place. It has been a spiritual site for thousands of years, dating back to the Celtic peoples. It swirls with stories of witches, demons, and ancient gods. Standing on the peak looking out over the rolling hills, it’s not hard to see why.
“Walberla” is actually the popular name for one of the two peaks of Ehrenbürg mountain, the other being Rodenstein. There’s evidence that humans inhabited the mountain as far back as the Neolithic period some 6,000 years ago. It was later used as a hill fort by the Celtic Hallstatt culture, and remains of those ancient fortifications can still be seen today.
It’s also believed that the pagan Germanic tribes used this site as a place of worship, as it was considered the home of the gods. In the medieval era, Walberla became wrapped up in legends of witches and demons; according to the lore, the night before the first of May they would perform evil dances on top of the mountain.
Still today, the Walberlafest is held every year on the first weekend in May, and it’s said to have evolved from the pagan festivals of yore. It is the oldest spring festival in Germany, dating back to the 9th century.
Know Before You Go
Walberla is in the Veldenstein Forest Nature Park between the towns of Kirchhrenbach, Leutenbach and Wiesenthau. The peak can be reached from Kirchehrenbach by a 45-minute hike.