Here modern art, Maybach, beer and weißwurst, there "paths of serenity", meditation and yoga in the countryside. Plus a new bathing paradise and castle ruins with a view. The market town masters the balance between stimulation and relaxation.
Relaxation and Action in Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate
"Resi to go" is written on a sign at the entrance to the park landscape. It extends over the former site of the State Garden Show on the edge of the Old Town. Is Resi a new trendy drink that you can enjoy on one of the park benches? No! "Resi" is the abbreviation of "resilience".
To put it simply, this means psychological resistance. And it was precisely these that we were promised could be trained "to go" in and around Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz in a variety of ways, in the middle of the city as well as in the great outdoors.
From the Kneipp trail to barefoot walking and yoga courses to a five-hour hiking tour of the imposing Wolfstein Castle ruins and the pilgrimage church of Maria Hilf, which is plain on the outside but revels in the finest Baroque on the inside – following the motto "Pause Region", the town of around 40,000 inhabitants and its immediate surroundings offer a multitude of possibilities.
Shopping at the Colourful Market
Situated at the intersection of the trade routes from Frankfurt to Vienna and from Ingolstadt to Prague, the town, first mentioned in a document in 1235, flourished in the early Middle Ages. The Upper and Lower Market Streets still run along the historic route on which grain was traded and tolls collected.
This is where the horses of the teams were changed, blacksmiths and other craftsmen offered their services. A colourful market, mainly with regional products such as wood-fired bread, honey, vegetables and fish, recalls this heyday of the market town on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Juradistl: Beef for Better Eaters
The famous Juradistl beef and many other regional products can be found daily in the local market "Der Regionale" in Sachsenstraße. Upscale restaurants throughout the region swear by the ecologically and animal welfare-oriented meat.
At Daniela and Matthias Ochsenkühn's in the neighbouring village of Berngau, the cattle are allowed to graze as they please, fresh air permeates the open barn. It is mainly private individuals who order here for barbecues or special dinners with a clear conscience.
The construction of the Ludwig-Danube-Main Canal gave Neumarkt's development a historic boost. From 1836 onwards, work on this important arterial road, the predecessor of the Main-Danube Canal, took ten years. More than 7,000 workers joined the 3,200 inhabitants at that time.
The Second World War then brought devastating destruction to the town. Only a handful of buildings remained almost intact, including the half-timbered so-called Schreiberhaus in the Bräugasse. Built around 1430, it is the oldest surviving town house in Neumarkt.
A Town in Pastel
The striking town hall between the Upper and Lower Markets lay in ruins, as did the late Gothic hall church of St. John, which had to cope with several changes from Catholic to Protestant and back in its long history and was given the title "Münster" in 2015 on the 825th anniversary of its Romanesque predecessor. The spectacular stained glass windows, which shine in all colours, especially in the morning, were only added in the 1990s.
Many houses along the market streets are also colourful, from delicate pastels to strong tones, they exude a cheerful atmosphere. An unusual accent is set by the rebuilt Untere Tor in fresh mint.
An oasis of tranquillity compared to the busy market streets is the rose garden hidden near the canal harbour. More than 400 varieties of roses blossom and perfume there. Cyclists are drawn to the canal, where light stretches through loose settlement terrain alternate with passages in shady wooded areas.
Many cyclists stop at the brewery inn "Blomenhof", which is located a little outside. In 2013, landlady Ingrid Schmaußer bought and renovated the listed pub with its large beer garden. Brewmaster Stefan Kosczynski provides the liquid supply in Neumarkt's smallest brewery right next to the pub.
Art! Art! Art!
Neumarkt is not necessarily spectacular, but it is likeable. On a tour with Georg Ziegler, who likes to dress up as the night watchman on evening tours, the abundance of sculptures and fountains in the public space is striking. There are certainly more than two dozen.
The solution to the riddle is Lothar Fischer (1933-2004), one of the most important German figurative sculptors of the 20th century. The artist spent his childhood in Neumarkt. Since 2004, the architecturally very appealing Museum Lothar Fischer has been located between the town park and the castle pond, where three top-class temporary exhibitions can be seen every year. Through floor-to-ceiling windows, the view sweeps into the small town park through which a small stream, the Leitgraben, flows.
Around the museum, interested visitors can take in the sculptures, for example Fischer's "Großer Männlicher Kopf" (Large Male Head) by the castle pond or the buxom triumvirate of "Mondfahrer" (Moon Driver) by Fischer's mentor Heinrich Kirchner just around the corner from the former Palatinate Castle. Fischer is also prominently represented in the cityscape, for example with the "Reiterbrunnen" (Rider's Fountain) on Residenzplatz or "Die drei Grazien" (The Three Graces).
This is the oversized group of figures in front of the town hall. Officially, the widely appreciated bronze figures are simply called the "Standing Group of Three".
Pausing at the Old Canal
There is also art on the cycle tour along the canal. Every few kilometres, an exhibit invites you to enjoy a short stop, or a conscious pause, a moment of meditation on the lazily lapping waters.
Whether it's a picnic under an apple tree or a break at the "Krähentisch" (crow's table) near the Wolfstein castle ruins with a spectacular view (and a fantastic selfie backdrop), there is certainly no shortage of appealing motifs for photography enthusiasts around Neumarkt.
Particularly unusual "photo models" await in the museum for historic Maybach vehicles. Only 1,800 cars of the noble brand were built in the 1920s, each one unique. 155 are still known to exist, worldwide.
Over the years, Dr. Helmut Hofmann, an orthodontist from Neumarkt, has tracked down twenty of them and had them restored. He has been exhibiting them to the public in his spacious premises in the centre of Neumarkt since 2009. The toilets alone with old black-and-white photos are worth it!
In the Butchery and White Sausage Museum
For those who like something more tangible, the "1. Bavarian Butchery and Weißwurst Museum" is the place to go. There, literally everything revolves around sausage and its production. The father of the butcher, hotelier and innkeeper Norbert Wittmann had already started collecting old sausage-making equipment.
Then he added White sausage seminars. In these, Wittmann explains the secrets of the perfect White sausage (veal sausage) and lets the participants, of course, make their own snack with the sausage machine.
Organic Pioneer and Swimming Paradise
Weißwurst without beer? Hard to imagine. How fortunate, then, that four breweries are still active in Neumarkt. Lammsbräu certainly enjoys the highest national profile. The owner-managed brewery was a pioneer in organic brewing: As early as the 1980s, it produced the first draught beers in organic quality and convinced farmers and innkeepers of its new path.
Finally, in 1995, the entire production was converted to organic. The non-alcoholic beers and the cheerful, fruity organic lemonades are particularly popular. On the first Saturday of every month there is a public guided tour, and the entrance fee supports environmental projects in the region.
Schlossbad: Off to the Water!
Neumarkt's big modern attraction is the Schlossbad, a swimming area with several indoor pools on the ground floor is elegantly designed in anthracite with colourful accents in mint and pale yellow.
The second floor is shared by five stylish saunas, a steam bath styled in an underwater look and the fireplace lounge with large open-air lounging areas and an infinity pool with a view of the castle pond.
An outdoor pool and adventure pool are attached to the complex. For swimming and wellness enthusiasts, the castle pool alone, which is open all year round, is a good reason to visit Neumarkt.
And Finally? Neumarkt "To Go"
But visitors can take away even more than just the nice feeling of having spent a few relaxing days. The "Pause Region" has created numerous different audio files with exercises for the courses on the former State Garden Show grounds and various other stations, which you can simply download and repeat at any time, whether in your own garden, on the balcony or during a walk in the forest. When you remember the view from the Wolfstein castle ruins or the tranquillity in the fragrant rose garden, the feeling of pausing usually comes naturally, no matter where you are.