The “Drei Gleichen” Hike
Already when I first sat in the car from NRW in the direction of Erfurt, I noticed three castles shortly after Gotha, which stand on neighboring hills and are clearly visible from the highway. Nowadays I know that these are the so-called “Drei Gleichen”. At that time I planned to visit these three castles one day. Shortly thereafter, however, the idea unfortunately fell into oblivion again. When we recently walked a section of the 3 Towers Trail with Marie and Christopher, Marie made the suggestion to do the hike at the Drei Gleichen. She had already done this twice and the path was quite beautiful and also not too strenuous. On 13 June 2021 we finally put this idea into practice.
The actual start of the route is indicated on hiking guides at a rest area in Mühlberg. However, since this is a circular route, one can also start at any other point. Because the rest area is difficult to reach by public transportation, we took the train from Weimar to Wandersleben instead and hiked from there. Wandersleben is a very small picturesque village through which, appropriately for the name, several hiking routes led. Therefore, there were also some pretty signposts and info signs. On a positive note, many of the info signs even had an English translation on the back.
After a short time we already reached the first of the three castles, which is quite appropriately called simply “Gleichen Castle”. Although one has to pay an entrance fee here, it is not expensive and most of the money is used to maintain the castle. Since the tower was closed due to Corona, the entrance fee when we were there was only 1€ per person. On the grounds of the castle, we spread out in the grass the food we had brought with us and had a picnic first, since it was already lunchtime by then. Kevin and I had two salads with us, which were the same ones I had already prepared for my complete 3-tower hike, and we had also chopped up some vegetables for snacking. Christopher and Marie had food with them, too. After our hunger was satisfied, we looked around the castle grounds a bit. The castle itself was mainly a ruin, but there were labels where what was located and a few things, such as a very dark cellar and funnily the toilet were even completely intact.
Next, we continued along a fairly varied hiking trail to the Mühlburg. This one was a little better preserved, but since it was only possible to visit the castle square and everything else was closed, we had to pay here exceptionally no entrance fee. From here, one has some nice views of the surrounding villages, but also of Gleichen Castle, which we just visited. Next to the castle are also the remains of a chapel, which was built in honor of a Thuringian saint with the wonderful name Radegunde.
The walk to the next castle, Wachsenburg, felt the longest (and probably was). The last few meters were steeply uphill and just before the home stretch we were told that the castle was closed. Christopher gave up on that and sat on a bench. The rest of us, however, bravely hiked up, because even though the castle was closed, we could still catch a glimpse of it and in the end claim that we really were at all three castles. As expected, we didn’t get to see much more than the closed entrance gate, and even though there was a big “no photos” sign to the left of it, we allowed ourselves a few snapshots before descending back down to Christopher. Along the way, we kept running into people who, to their disappointment, we told about the castle’s closure. In itself, it was a pity that the Wachsenburg of all castles was closed, because it seemed the most beautiful of all three, at least from afar.
If the way to Wachsenburg was already long, the way back to Wandersleben felt just as long again. Still, there were a few little things to see, such as a pretty fishing pond, which we passed. Arriving in Wandersleben, we had almost an hour until our train should leave. Actually, the plan was to get cool drinks at the end, but since Wandersleben was so small, there was not even a vending machine on the track, let alone any coffee which would have open on a Sunday. Our last hope was a gas station at the entrance to the village, but unfortunately it was also closed. So we had no choice but to sit at the railroad track and wait for our train while every now and then an ICE passed us by. Arrived in Weimar, we allowed ourselves then instead at our favorite Italian restaurant near the station a pizza and let the day end in this way.
With the Drei Gleichen, I have now finally been able to cross something off my to-do list. The hike as such is really nice and certainly in normal times it is even nicer to be able to visit the castles properly. We had a great day, even if the way was a bit longer than expected due to the detour via Wandersleben. At the end of the day, my fitness app showed me a proud 20km, which includes the walk from our front door to the Weimar train station.