The Neue Stadt Helmbund, known today as Neuenstadt, has its origins in the town of Helmbund. The only contemporary evidence of the existence of Helmbund, first documented in 797, is a church chancel in the Brettach Valley. It is not known why this town was abandoned and a new settlement established adjacent to an ancient Germanic court of justice on the spur between the Brettach River and the Kocher River some time in about 1300.
The Thousand-year Lime Tree
The Thousand-year Lime Tree no longer stands on the site of this court of justice, which has been in public use since 1448. It fell during a storm in 1945 after its bracing ropes had been destroyed by enemy fire in the closing days of the war. Today a new lime tree stands in its place. However, the Lime Tree Grove, with its foliage canopy supported by sturdy stone trestles, still survives to this day. For a long time, the town named itself "Neuenstadt an der Linde" after this remarkable natural landmark.
From 1649 until 1781, Neuenstadt was the residence of a collateral line of the Duchy of Württemberg. Neuenstadt was fortunate to chosen as a ducal residence. The dukes were highly educated, and their presence vitalised the local economy. The Mörike family came from Havelberg in Brandenburg to Southern Germany in the entourage of the First Duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel. The family settled here and ran the local pharmacy for nearly two centuries.The poet Eduard Mörike (1804 - 1875) is descended from the Ludwigsburg branch of the family. He immortalised Neuenstadt in a poem entitled " In ein freundliches Städtchen tret’ ich ein" [Into a friendly little town I stroll]. The castle and the magnificent coffins housed in the crypt below the municipal church are commemorative of the duke’s family.
The sunken "Roman town"
In the broad meadows and fields beyond the reaches of the Kocher River, in the district of Bürg, lies a minor archaeological sensation. Its existence of a Roman town in the hinterland of the Limes (Roman frontier wall) from Walldürn in the Odenwald to Mainhardt and Welzheim had long been suspected, but it was not actually uncovered until 2003. An initial archaeological dig is now in progress. According to the aerial survey, the former Roman settlement covers an area of between 20 and 30 hectares (!). Coins were found dating from the period 180 AD, which was roughly during the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. This town on the banks of the Kocher River with its small cargo port - that much is known - still remains nameless to this day. However, perhaps the excavations now under way will one day unveil this secret …
Cleversulzbach - the former hometown of Eduard Mörike
Cleversulzbach is no ordinary village- it is also a world-famous literary heritage site. Today the village is little larger than when Mörike held his first and only pastorate from 1834 until 1843. Here you can follow in the footsteps of the famous poet - in the museum, in the church, along the alleyways, on the walk up his "favourite hill" and along the "Mörike Way" through the surrounding countryside.This narrow footpath reveals more about the man’s character than possibly anything else. It offers views of the church tower, whose "strutting" old weathercock Mörike immortalised in his poem entitled "The Old Weathercock". "At Cleversulzbach in the Underland, a hundred and thirteen years did I stand…"
Neuenstadt am Kocher (9,500 inhabitants), with its four subdivisions of Bürg, Cleversulzbach, Kochertürn and Stein am Kocher, is the hub of the Lower Kocher and Brettach Valley. In earlier times, the ancient trade routes of the "Roman Road", "The High Road" and the "Nibelung Road" crossed at Neuenstadt. Today, the A 81 Stuttgart/Würzburg and the A 6 Mannheim/Nürnberg motorways provide the economic stimuli. Commercial and industrial firms have located in the area, creating jobs and providing steady growth in population levels. The excellent infrastructure, the intact wooded landscape of the Kocher and Brettach Valleys and the proximity to the Heilbronn/Neckarsulm population centre have made Neuenstadt not only an attractive residential town, but also appealing to visitors and tourists alike. In the midst of new residential areas they will find in Neuenstadt a unique Swabian small town steeped in history and a number of sights waiting to be discovered.
The Neuenstadt Open-air Theatre
The Neuenstadt Open-air Theatre has been staging plays in the moat of Neuenstadt’s Renaissance-era castle since 1958. Up to 20,000 spectators attend the productions, which are held annually on seven weekends during June and July, making a name for the stage well beyond Neuenstadt and the surrounding area. The spectator stands are covered and equipped with bucket seats. Stage productions range from the Swabian folklore plays to the classics. Elaborate stage sets, the special atmosphere of the castle moat and energetic performances of the lay actors ensure an entertaining evening of theatre. For ticket information call Telefonnummer: +49 (0)7139 7187.