Rauberweihermühle: War ein "Landsassengut", in dem auch die Herrschaften wohnten
Looking back to the future

Each of the six "open-air museums in Bavaria" has its own regional charm. We visited the open-air museum in Neusath-Perschen and spoke to its director Tobias Hammerl

Reading time: 12 minutes

The Bavarian open-air museums...

... were all created in the 1960s and 1970s with a similar motivation. Because there was no protection of historical monuments yet, many old buildings and farms were demolished in the Free State because people wanted comfortable single-family homes.

Fortunately, this triggered a countermovement at the time. People wanted to save a few, particularly beautiful houses and preserve rural culture. The solution was to dismantle interesting buildings and rebuild them on vacant lots.

In a way, Tobias Hammerl was born for the job. Born in Regensburg, he grew up in the region and visited the Open Air Museum Upper Palatinate as a child, as his father is also very interested in history. Hammerl studied history, art history and majored in ethnology.

After years of study, including in Scotland, and managing the Abensberg town museum, he joined the Freilandmuseum Oberpfalz as director at the beginning of 2020. He told us what not to miss in Neusath-Perschen and why the simple life back then also had its advantages.

Der Leiter des Oberpfälzer Freilandmuseums erklärt den Aufbau der Mühle
Durch die schonende Bewirtschaftung entstand eher zufällig ein Artenhotspot

Rural idyll and species hotspot

A few geese waddle to the pond to take a bath. The baby goat, born a few days ago, is doing leaps and bounds in the meadow. And further over, in front of the old farmhouse, a peacock is striking its wheel.

Hammerl walks across the grounds, where there are several small settlements with houses from past centuries. "We have many farm animals, mostly specimens of old domestic or livestock breeds," he says.

"This is how we help to preserve these species. He has already had personal experience with the red high-altitude cattle, the cows here, because he was supposed to help out once. "It's not that easy to bring an animal like that back into the barn when it doesn't want to," says Hammerl with a laugh.

 "What's special about us," he explains, "is the cultural landscape concept. The landscape corresponds to the original surroundings of these 50 or so rural houses. There's a village pond and fields that are farmed as they once were." And something else has come into being, somewhat by chance: a species hotspot, the likes of which no longer exist outside the site. "Among other things, several dozen butterfly species live here."

Luftaufnahme vom Oberpfälzer Freilandmuseum

Many courses and workshops

A healthy environment is important to Hammerl. And at the open-air museum, much revolves around simple, resource-conserving management. "We have over 100 courses where you can learn old cultural techniques, from sauerkraut workshops to potato windrow building, from cooking courses on Upper Palatinate cuisine to rounds of Schafkopf."

"We have also been a state-recognised environmental station for two years." Hammerl believes that open-air museums in Bavaria are even more popular because many people realise that their current lifestyle does not make them happy. “So it's natural to ask: How did people do things in the past? Is it easier? Is it nicer?"

In über 100 Kursen kann man alte Kulturtechniken erlernen

Old farms completely recyclable

Hammerl is fascinated, for example, by the fact that such an old farmstead is 100 per cent recyclable. "Houses today are made of an incredible mix of materials; back then, people used wood, stone, clay and a little iron and glass. Things were rarely thrown away, up- and downcycling was a given."

Visitors to Neusath-Perschen should not miss the impressive Rauberweiher mill. And in contrast, the simple shepherd's house, which reflects the poverty of the ordinary people of that time. In the future, the focus will be even more on the people who used to live in the houses. Hammerl wants to tell their stories with special guided tours, pictures and texts.

There are special events regularly throughout the year: a Horse Day, where everything revolves around horses, the World Water Week or the Garden and Fruit Days, during which you can also buy seeds, for example.

The sun is already low. A small charcoal pile smokes at the edge of the forest. The workhorses are grazing on a lush pasture. And the chickens are looking after the offspring they hatched themselves. The last families stroll towards the exit with their children. In a moment, the museum gate will close and this peaceful, rural world will go to sleep without any visitors at all.

Museumsleiter Tobias Hammerl

... by Tobias Hammerl

Tour on the Naab Valley Cycle Path

The Naab flows right past the museum gate, you can start here. Actually, the trail is 100 kilometres long and leads from Luhe to Regensburg in two stages. A very nice way to experience the rural Upper Palatinate.
Naab Valley Cycle Route


"Zum Bürstenbinder"

I like to eat at this inn in Kallmünz from time to time. In my opinion, they serve the best "Bauchstecherl", a traditonal regional dish. My favourite accompaniment is a home-brewed beer. At Bürstenbinder, which is also in the Naab Valley, both are organic.



In this regard I'm a local patriot! Regensburg's old town with the cathedral and the Stone Bridge has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006. I live there and think it's beautiful.


All open-air museums at a glance:

  • Open-Air Museum Upper Palatinate, Neusath-Perschen
    The open-air museum shows about 50 old houses in their original context. The Upper Palatinate Open-Air Museum is home to many animals, mostly old breeds of domestic animals.
  • Glentleiten Open-Air Museum, District of Upper Bavaria
    Discover over 60 historic buildings in the spectacular landscape of the Alpine foothills above Lake Kochelsee. The group of buildings relating to alpine farming is unique.
  • Lower Bavarian open-air museums, Massing and Finsterau:
    Once upon a time – that's how life was in the Bavarian Forest. Highlight: The Petzi farm is a complete farm with seven buildings

  • Franconian Open-Air Museum, Fladungen:
    In addition to farms, there's also a church, a school, inn and brewery, Rhön sheep, Vorwerk chicken? Experience it for yourself in the museum

  • Swabian Farm Museum, Illerbeuren:
    A trip to the oldest open-air museum in southern Germany. About 100 varieties of fruit are grown at the museum.

  • Franconian Open-Air Museum, Bad Windsheim:
    A journey through 700 years of Franconian everyday history. Over 100 buildings invite visitors to discover rural life.

  • Amerang Farmhouse Museum, district of Upper Bavaria:
    Shows not only farms but above all the rural everyday history of the Chiemgau and Rupertiwinkel.


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