The Bavarian Altmühl Lake & Great Fossils and Lithography Museum
Gunzenhausen in Bavaria has an excellent Fossils and Lithography Museum while the nearby Altmühlsee (Lake) is popular with nature and water sports lovers.
The main attraction of Gunzenhausen is its excellent fossils and lithography museum, one of the best of its kind in Germany. The Altmühltal is famous for fossils and the local museum in Gunzenhausen has an excellent collection.
Although Gunzenhausen once had a Roman fort and sports a written history going back to 823, the town itself is less interesting than its population of 17,000 would suggest. From the 14th century, Gunzenhausen belonged to the burgraves of Nürnberg (Nuremberg), who gave it some Baroque buildings, but nothing that compares with the Baroque splendor of nearby Ansbach or Eichstätt.
However, it is worth stopping in Gunzenhausen for the museums. A further draw for tourists is the nearby Altmühl Lake. The completion of the Altmühlsee (Altmühl Lake) in the 1980s gave Gunzenhaseun a growth spurt, as it became a popular starting point for water sport on the lake and in the valley.
Gunzenhausen Tourist Information Office
Gunzenhausen Touristik-Information, Marktplatz 25, 91710 Gunzenhausen, tel 09831-508-300.
Gunzenhausen Museum of Fossils and Lithographs
In 2005, the excellent Fossilien und Steindruck Museum (Museum of Fossils and Lithography), Sonnenstraße 4, tel 09831- 882-655, moved from Maxberg to the edge of Gunzenhausen’s old town. The museum has a large collection of local and international fossils as well as numerous castings of famous fossils including copies of all nine archaeopteryxes. During summer, a specialist’s workshop with supervision is available for the preparation of fossils – advance reservations are required and the costs are €15 per hour.
The second focus of the Gunzenhausen Museum of Fossils and Lithographs is lithography (stone printing) and its development since its invention in 1798 by Alois Senefelder. The new lithography process immediately halved the costs of printing musical scores and made printed illustrations possible. In addition to historical equipment, a vast collection of original lithographs by internationally famous artists is on display.
The opening hours of the Fossilien und Steindruck Museum (Museum of Fossils and Lithography) are daily from April to October from 9 am to 5 pm but from November to March only on Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is €3.50.
Other Museums in Gunzenhausen in Bavaria
In the heart of Gunzenhausen old town is the interesting Stadtmuseum (Town Museum), Rathausstraße 12, tel 09831-508-306. In addition to local history, the museum has a large, eclectic collection of furniture, faïence tiles, and special sections on Jewish life in the region as well as on alchemy.
The Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte (Pre- and Early History), Brunnenstraße 1, is a dependence in a nearby building. It exhibits archeological finds from the Gunzenhausen region ranging from the Stone Age to the early Middle Ages.
Opening hours for both museums are May to mid-October from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to noon and 1 to 5 pm. From mid-October to April, it is open Tuesday to Friday from 1 to 5 pm and Sunday from 10 am to noon and 1 to 5 pm. The combination ticket for both is €2.
More Top Sights to See in Gunzenhausen, Germany
The nearby, 33-m/108-ft-high Blasturm (gate tower) is the only of Gunzenhausen’s four original town gate towers that survived to the present. The lower parts are 14th century but the upper floors date from 1603. At the top is a fully furnished tower watchman’s house. The tower is only open from May to September on Thursday and Sunday from 11 am to noon.
Opening hours are slightly longer for the round, 14th-century Färberturm (tower), at the south of Gunzenhausen’s old town. It is open from May to September on Thursday from 10 am to noon and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.
St Maria, Kirchenplatz 11, is a late Gothic, 15th-century church erected on top of the foundations of the former Roman fort. Noteworthy is the Volpini crucifix in the Baroque high altar.
The Altmühlsee Lake in Bavaria, Germany
The Altmühlsee (Lake) was created in the 1980s as part of the larger Franconian Lake District project to reduce flooding in the Altmühl valley as well as redirecting water from the Danube basin to the north. The 450-ha/1,112-acre Altmühl lake is at most 2.5-m/8-ft deep.
Pedal and electric boats can be rented by the half hour from the Seezentrum in Muhr am See. Various sailing boats can be rented from Seezentrum in Wald, tel 0170-530-5294. Steamers operate on the lake from May to October but it is frankly not the most exciting cruise available in Bavaria.
At the north of the Altmühlsee lake is the 120-ha/300-acre Vogelinsel (Bird Island), a nature reserve where over 200 species of birds have been observed. A circular, 1.5-km/one-mile long hiking route with observation tower is always accessible freely.
It is strictly forbidden to leave the marked trail or to feed birds.
Further Destinations and Information on the Altmühltal Valley