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Unesco World Heritage Site

Maulbronn Monastery

Maulbronn Monastery, monastery vineyard. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Harry Keller
Intended for protection

The Eppingen lines

The Eppingen lines were intended to stop French raids during the Nine Years' War. The fortified defense lines were 86 kilometers long and extended from Weißenstein near Pforzheim to the mouth of the Neckar, including the monastery complex of Maulbronn.

Rastatt Palace, Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden, "Türkenlouis". Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm ordered the construction of the fortifications.

Protection against raids

The reason for the construction of the defense lines was the Nine Years' War, which lasted from 1688 to 1697. Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden-Baden had the fortification wall built to protect cities and villages against French attempts to plunder and set fire to them. For the construction of the fortification, the margrave used civilians under the threat of drastic punishment, most of whom lived in front of the defense lines. The "entrenchment workers" built the Eppingen lines under compulsory labor between 1695 and 1697.

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Parts of the historical wall trench system, the wooden sculpture of an entrenchment worker, and the reconstruction of a watchtower illustrate the construction and the military function of the Eppingen lines.

Wall, trenches, and towers

To make an attack more difficult, natural boundaries, such as river valleys and forests, were included in the construction of the Eppingen lines. The defensive complex itself consisted of a 40-meter-high entanglement made of branches and tree trunks. Behind it was a 2.5 meter deep trench, its excavated material used to form a wall. Palisades also made attacks more difficult. From watchtowers constructed at regular intervals, also called chartaques, the enemy's troop movements could be observed.

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The monastery complex was part of the defense lines.

Maulbronn as part of the Eppingen lines

In planning the Eppingen lines, it was not only natural features that were put to good use, but also existing buildings. That was how Maulbronn Monastery, with its walls and towers, became part of the defense complex. Maulbronn's monastery bakery provided food for the entrenchment workers while they built additional signal towers on the hills around the monastery.

Maulbronn Monastery, visitors in the monastery vineyard. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Niels Schubert

The Eppingen lines are still a beloved hiking route today.

Hiking route along the lines

About 40 kilometers of the Eppingen lines can still be hiked today. The tour near the Stromberg-Heuchelberg nature park between Eppingen and Mühlacker is signed and has informational plaques. Since 2014, sculptures by Hinrich Zürn, an artist from Gemmingen, have decorated the path. The diverse hiking path with its enchanting views of Kraichgau bears the "premium trail" seal of approval from Wanderbares Deutschland.

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