Oppenheim is on the Rhine, in the middle between Mainz and Worms. It was granted market rights in 1008, city rights in 1225, and flourished until overrun by Spanish, Swedish and French troops in 1620, 1631 and 1689 respectively. After that it never regained its previous importance and wealth; however, it remains a charming small city with mediaeval flair, proud of its history and its wine — particularly the Krötenbrunnen vineyards, whose fame has reached beyond Germany.
Oppenheim once was home to a small Jewish community, the remnants of which were scattered by the atrocities before and during World War II. Several families named Oppenheim or Oppenheimer can be found in the USA and other parts of the world.
Fast trains (ICE, IC, most RE) won't stop in Oppenheim. Visitors have to take the slow train (S, Stadtbahn). 'S6' runs from Mainz via Oppenheim and Worms to Mannheim (or vice versa) mostly every half an hour, or hourly in the early morning and late evening. If you're coming in from nearby Frankfurt airport then take a train to Mainz first and change there.
From Oppenheim's train station it is only a 5-10 minutes walk to the Old Town. (There is a city map across the street in front of the former station building.)
The B9 state road connects Oppenheim to Mainz and Worms. Just north of the town is the Nierstein car ferry across the Rhine in the direction of Darmstadt. The B420 provides connections from the A61 and A63.
There is no public transportation (the only buses are school buses), but the city, particularly the Old Town, is so small that you can walk everywhere within minutes.
City maps are downloadable from Oppenheim's homepage.
- The Old Town with its marketplace and the Town Hall, just below the church.
- 1 Saint Catherine’s Church (Katharinenkirche), Katharinenstr. 1, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 12:00–17:00. Built 1220-1439, often named 'the most outstanding Gothic church on the Rhine between Cologne and Strasbourg'. Some of the stained glass windows are still genuine from the 14th century. Sometimes the church's main tower is open for visitors. If you get a chance, do climb it. The effort of the many stairs is rewarded by a spectacular view of the town.
- 2 The Ossuary (Beinhaus) (immediately behind the church). Situated in the lower floor of the Michaelskapelle. Bones of 20,000 people, neatly stacked around 1400-1750, are a creepy view. The golden skull in the center, however, was left there after a TV production.
- 3 Geschlechterbrunnen (a few steps past the rear gate of St. Catharine's). Renaissance well built 1546. The name and the well's design stem from the three "Geschlechter" (noble houses) Dalberg, Frankenstein and Gemmingen.
- 4 St Bartholomäus Church, Kirchstr. 4 (a bit south of the marketplace), ☏ . Church building of a former Fanciscan monastery that was founded around 1316(?). After various changes turned into a Catholic church in 1686.
- 5 Landskrone Castle (Burg Landskron) (uphill from the Old Town). Ruins of castle built in the 16th century on the remains of an even older (11th century?) castle, destroyed in 1689. Located at the very top you can get a great view of the town and the surrounding countryside. During summer the ruins are sometimes used for theatre performances. If you walk from the ruins past the Ruprechtsturm downstairs to the Clock Tower you might notice a huge chunk of curved brickwork (to the left of a small viewing balcony). This is a piece of the castle's round main tower. Despite weighing several tons, it was hurled hundreds of meters when the tower was blown up in 1689.
- 6 Gautor (≈100 m west of the marketplace). Last remaining gate building of the town's 13th century fortifications.
- 7 Ruprechtsturm ("Schneiderturm") (≈100 m north of the Geschlechterbrunnen). Small stone tower built in 1903 on the foundations of the old Schneiderturm, which was destroyed in 1689. The 13th century Schneiderturm (Tailors' Tower) was part of the city fortifications. Various guilds had to guard different parts of the city, and the physically weak tailors were assigned responsibility for this easy to defend steep decline.
- 8 Clock Tower (Uhrturm) (≈100 m west of the train station). The lower part is what remains of the 13th century "Zollturm" or "Weißer Turm" (Toll Tower or White Tower), which was part of the city fortifications and destroyed in 1689. The upper part was built in 1843-44.
- 9 [dead link] Oppenheimer Kellerlabyrinth (Oppenheim Cellar Maze), Merianstraße 2 (near the marketplace at the street leading up to St Catherine's). under the Old Town, sometimes also called Stadt unter der Stadt (City beneath the city). Spurred by the city's uneasy past and the soft yet sustainable soil, Oppenheim's medieval inhabitants dug at least 40 km worth of tunnels and rooms beneath the 'visible' city. Among other things, the St Catherine's Church's stained glass windows survived here not only several medieval wars but also WWII bombings. A part of the tunnels have been made accessible to the public. Guided tours (in several languages) are offered by the town’s tourism and festival play bureau. The underground rooms also sometimes host theatre performances and other events.
- Town Museum, Merianstr. 4.
- 10 German Viticultural Museum (Deutsches Weinbaumuseum), Wormser Str. 49, ☏ , email@example.com. April-October: Tu-F 14:00-18:00, Sa Su 11:00-18:00, closed in winter, group tours may be arranged all year. Showing old methods and tools for wine production. Adult €5, child €2.
Stroll through the Old Town, enjoy the view from the castle, do a guided underground tour and climb the tower of St Catherine's if you get a chance. Use Oppenheim as a 'base camp' for several beautiful bicycle tours along the river Rhine. However, if you're looking for a wild night life instead, you might have come to the wrong place.
Various small shops are located in the town center around the marketplace and along 'Mainzer Straße'. For supermarkets look to the south of the town, between Oppenheim and Dienheim.
- 1 Merian Hotel, Wormserstr. 2, ☏ .
- 2 Hotel Gold'ne Krone (Restaurant Stivale), Am Markt 4, ☏ .
- There are also a number of holiday apartments to rent; see the town's website.[dead link]
- Tourism and festival play bureau, Merianstr. 4, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Along the Rhine by bicycle, e.g. to Nierstein, Nackenheim or the Kühkopf island near Guntersblum.
- Nierstein (3 min by train)
- Nackenheim (7 min by train)
- Mainz (20 min by train)
- Worms (20 min by train)
- Mannheim (1 hour by (slow) train)