The Rock Church of Idar Oberstien

View of Idar Oberstien and Bosselstien Fort.

One of my last days in Germany, we spent wandering the narrow streets and passageways of Idar Oberstien.  Idar Oberstien which is one of the few villages I can pronounce in Germany, is also one of the first to captivate me!  My first impression was when we speed past it on the train the very first day coming back from the airport.  The town is framed with mountainous rock formation that tower high over the village.  The building that caught my first glance is one of the towns most distinctive landmarks; a white building recessed into the middle of the rock above the village.


Felsekirche is the “rock church” that is literally built into the rock.  Jen explained that it has a very interesting story about it.  According to legend, there were 2 bothers extremely in love with the same women.  She picked one of the brothers to betroth which made the other brother very jealous and upset.  This brother pushed the chosen brother off the cliff in rage and anger but felt so guilty after the fact that he decided to build a church in the location where he murdered his brother and devote himself to his spiritual values.  Although rather interesting, this is merely a legend but if you have more interest in the history or other legends surrounding the church you can click here to read a little more.

The hike up to the church is fairly steep but a little past the church the land levels out and brings you to a series of hiking trails.  We followed the path and walked over to the old castle ruins of the Bosselstein Fort.  There is a fantastic view of the Oberstien Castle.  Oberstien Castle is the newer castle, it can actually be rented for events.  We did not explore the inside of the Oberstien Castle because it was not open yet.  But here are more details if you want to visit.  Instead we doubled back to walk through Felsekirche.  There is actually a water source that ruins directly through the church walls.

Gemstone City

Another great discovery that comes out the the rock formations lining the town is mines.  Earlier in the week Jen and were considering going to one of the mines.  We thought it would be a fun kid-friendly activity for her son to do with us.  We thought a trip to the mines was a great way to cool down from the heat wave hitting Germany.  Unfortunately we had to change our plans, but nonetheless Idar Oberstien is known for it’s mines.  It is known for it’s gemstones.  Jen explained to me that a lot of the gemstones in the surrounding area come from Idar Oberstien.  There is even a museum dedicated to gemstones!  Of course this also means tons of jewelry stores lining the streets to sell these beautiful stones.  Perfect for me!  I collect charms from places I travel and it was not hard to find one here!

Let’s Chat

  • Can you name other cities that are known for gemstones, if so what cities and what gemstones (if specific ones apply)?
  • Have you ever rented out a castle for a private event? I would love to here about it!
  • What kinds of tokens do you buy to remember your experiences?

Let me know your thoughts