Esthal

There are approximately 1,700 inhabitants living in the Esthal community situated on a plateau in the middle of the Palatinate Forest. Even for the standards of the rather isolated collective municipality of Lambrecht, this place is an oasis of peace. A well-designed 3 mile (5km) loop road leads you from the Elmstein Valley, past the Sattelmühle settlement, into the forest village at 1200ft (365m) altitude.

In the Middle Ages, wood used to be incinerated here for the local Esthal glass works and smelters. In 1380, the "ash place" ("Estall") first appears in a charter of Speyer. Until 1794, the settlement was owned by the Lords of Erfenstein, just as their castle in the Speyerbach Valley carrying the same name.

Esthal includes the districts of Erfenstein, Breitenstein and Sattelmühle. The Erfenstein Castle was founded by the Count of Leiningen in the 13th century, its purpose being to protect forests. In 1380, a new castle was constructed a hundred yards up the valley. The donjons of both castles still remain visible today.
The Spangenburg Castle ruin (district of Neustadt) dates from the last third of the 11th century and is situated on the opposite, southern side of the valley. It used to belong to the Principality of Speyer. It was destroyed during the Thirty Years' War. An association restored it in 1972 and it has been managed again since then.

According to a legend, there used to be a leather bridge connecting Erfenstein and Spangenberg, which was cut apart on the occasion of a neighbourly feud. At the same time as Erfenstein, the Breitenstein Castle was also built by the Count of Leiningen. Tower foundations of an older castle have been discovered sixty yards above. Both were destroyed in 1470 by Palatinate troops.
In 1426, a church was first mentioned in Esthal, which even today remains Catholic. Brother Konrad’s Church dates from 1934, however. It includes parts of St. Catherine's Church and houses a wooden statue of the Saint, as well as one of St. Peter dating from around 1500. Brother Konrad, the Church Patron was carved by the artist Walter Dell of Hassloch. The Arms Stone from the old church is standing at the side portal, which refers to the Lords of Dalberg, to whom the Erfenstein Castle, and thus Esthal, was subordinated during the 18th century. The Protestants have possessed a community hall since 1900.

Our monastery of St. Mary is also located in Esthal. In the years 1951/52 and 1958/59, it was built as the Palatinate Provincial House of Sisters of the Divine Saviour (Niederbronn Sisters). Also of great significance to the Sisters of this region was the merger in 10 April 2005 of the four German-speaking provinces of Baden-Hesse, Bavaria, Palatinate and Austria into a Province of Germany and Austria.

Esthal features beautiful hiking trails, appreciated by many a nature lover, especially on weekends.

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