|Every day I try to get out on the vast network of hiking trails snaking through the Steigerwald. My most recent hike led me through the forest to Scheinfeld (population: 4,600), the closest city to Seitenbuch and the town where the local kids go to school.
The great thing about Scheinfeld is that it's completely off of the tourist track and yet it's absolutely charming.
Scheinfeld is already listed in documents as early as the 8th century and was officially designated a city in 1415. At one time Scheinfeld was a walled city, but today all that remains of that protective wall is the clock tower clearly visible at the end of the main street in my photo.
Schwarzenberg Castle has stood guard on the edge of the city since at least the 13th century and it looms large above town. The castle is still owned by the Schwarzenberg family, but today is the home of a private school. Interestingly, the Nazis seized the castle in 1940 and used it as a political training school and then between 1945 and 1949 American forces occupied the grounds using it as a hospital and lodging for war refugees from the Balkans.
I spent two afternoons in the library at the Scheinfelder Rathaus (city hall) reading up on the local history and I found it fascinating. I was, of course, looking for information on Seitenbuch in particular.
I learned, for instance, that Seitenbuch is already listed in documents from 1341 but then appears to have been abandoned for roughly 125 years between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. It's not known why the village was deserted. It could simply be that the soil was no longer fertile but, more ominously, during that time the area was also subject to the ravages of disease and war. In fact during the 30 Years War, Swedish forces even occupied Schwarzenberg Castle.