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A gem in Germany's Black Forest

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Staufen im Breisgau in the southern Black Forest is a charming town of pedestrian streets in its city center lined with shops, boutiques, hotels and, of course, konditerei featuring the region’s famous Black Forest Torte.

The ruins of an old castle on a site tracing its origins to Roman times sits on a hill overlooking the town. The castle of the current ruins was constructed around 1100, and destroyed by Swedish mercenary troops in the Thirty Years War after the town of Staufen refused to pay a ransom demanded by the Swedes to leave the town intact.

Staufen’s most famous resident is Dr. Faust, the historical figure made legendary by his fame in literature. An itinerant alchemist, astronomer, and magician during the German Renaissance, Faust allegedly sold his soul to the devil while staying at the Gasthaus zum Lowen, located on the quaint town’s main square.

It was in this gasthaus where the fallen Faust would debauch local frauleins, and also where Faust was engaged in trying to make gold from lead when a chemical explosion took place, resulting in his untimely death. His mutilated body was found on a manure heap beneath his window after the devil came to collect his due. The gasthaus staff will graciously show you into room number 5, where Faust was in residence at the time of his grisly demise.

I visited Staufen while writing my travel mystery, Black Forest Reckoning. There is a really lovely walking trail that winds through the area, traversing vineyards and meadows, and Staufen is a wonderful place to take a coffee break with a strudel from one of the local konditerei while people watching on the main square.

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