Idstein, DE

The first time we went to Idstein was a few years ago for their Christmas market.

We could see that it was a great town with fabulous half-timbered houses, but it was so crowded for the market that we couldn’t really stroll around and enjoy the sites.

We finally got back for a visit this past February.

Once again, Sean came to the rescue by finding walking tour information online.

The town does have a tourist information (TI) office but we didn’t go in; I’m sure you can get the same walking tour information from them.

The TI is located in that building on the left, called the Killingerhaus.

It was built in 1615 by Conrad Killing, hence the name, and was acquired by the city in 1916 after having had numerous owners in between.

The Killingerhaus is hands-down one of the most beautiful and elaborate half-timbered houses we’ve seen anywhere.


Near that house it the Crooked House, one of the highest half-timbered houses in Idstein with four floors.

You can probably guess why it’s called the Crooked House.

It’s crooked because of deficiencies in its construction.

Immediately next to the Crooked House is the Rathaus or town hall.


Although it was originally built in 1698, it was later destroyed twice – once by rock fall and once by fire – and rebuilt. 

And next to the Rathaus is the castle gatehouse.

Built in 1497, it has also served as a prison, a torture chamber, and a granary.

Walking through the gatehouse and then looking back toward it, you see buildings dating from 1565 and later that were part of the original castle.

They are now city administrative offices.

If you’ve read the last few blog posts, you know that a staggering number of German towns have a witches tower.

That one was built in 1170 and modified a few times over the centuries.

Idstein is well-known for the witch trials held there in the 1600s and they really capitalize on the witch connection.

In fact a couple of months after this visit, we went back to Idstein for their annual Idsteiner Hexenmarkt or witches market.

No, they do not sell witches there.

It’s just a fun medieval-themed market with crafts, food, drinks and entertainment.

Near the tower is the Renaissance palace, constructed in the early 1600s for the Nassau-Idstein royal family. 

The family died out in 1721 and the building is now a grammar school.

Do you think I could claim to be a long-lost descendant and move in?

The palace gardens date back to the year 1566.

It sounds like the gardens used to be quite extravagant back in the day with exotic plants and flowers, grottos and paintings. 

This building used to be the fire brigade in the early 1900s.

It is now a brewery.

Now that’s what I call repurposing.

This statue commemorates a real person named Harry Seegebarth, who lived from 1942 to  2005.

He was born in Berlin and at the age of 9 was placed in an institution in Idstein that assisted mentally challenged youths such as himself.

He was very involved with the church, scouting and town events and held numerous jobs in Idstein throughout his life.

He is most remembered as being the singing street sweeper and that’s what the statue, which was paid for with donations, depicts. 

Another very ornamental building in Idstein is the Höerhof. 

It’s the one on the right and was a gift to the architect who designed the palace you saw earlier. 

It now houses a hotel and restaurant.

At this point we had been walking uphill for a few minutes, and the view looking back down at the center of town was gorgeous.

This next house, built in the 1500s, originally belonged to the stewards of the Counts of Nassau.

It later served several purposes, including the institution where Harry the singing street sweeper lived.

I just love the carved faces that you find on the corner of a lot of half-timbered houses. 

I took lots of close-up photos of them from various buildings during our walk.

This gorgeous place was built in 1607, was later restored and is now a hotel and restaurant.

A plaque on the side of the building references Felix Lahnstein, who was born in Idstein and died in New York, as a leader of the Jewish community.

The street the building is on is named after him, and although the information is not clear, it appears the building may have served as a synagogue at one time. 

This building next door was for sure a former synagogue.

It is unfortunately in a great state of disrepair, as you can tell from the outside.

This guy looks pretty melancholy, doesn’t he?

The last time we saw him, he was wearing a festive hat for the Christmas market.

He doesn’t look too happy to have been wearing it.

After stopping in a café for a nice, hot coffee drink we headed home.

Idstein is less than a 30-minute drive for us so I foresee more trips there for us while we’re living in Germany!

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