is a town in the district (Kreis) of Ludwigsburg
Ludwigsburg is a district in the middle of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Neighboring districts are Heilbronn, Rems-Murr, the district-free city Stuttgart, and the districts Böblingen and Enz.-History:...
Baden-Württemberg is one of the 16 states of Germany. Baden-Württemberg is in the southwestern part of the country to the east of the Upper Rhine, and is the third largest in both area and population of Germany's sixteen states, with an area of and 10.7 million inhabitants...
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
. It is known for its fine historic buildings, many in the Fachwerk
German architectural style, and its annual Shepherd
A shepherd is a person who tends, feeds or guards flocks of sheep.- Origins :Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations, beginning some 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Sheep were kept for their milk, meat and especially their wool...
s' Run. Markgröningen is on the Deutsche Fachwerkstraße
(German Framework Road
The German Timber-Frame Road is a German tourist route leading from the river Elbe in the north to Lake Constance in the south. Along the road you can find nearly 100 cities and towns with remarkable timber-framed houses...
Markgröningen is in the Strohgäu, on the River Glems
The river Glems is a right tributary of the river Enz in Baden-Württemberg, Germany and around long. The spring is located in the south-west of Stuttgart. On the way to the confluence into the Enz next to Unterriexingen it passes the districts of Böblingen and Ludwigsburg....
, about 15 km northwest of Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....
and 10 km west of Ludwigsburg
Ludwigsburg is a city in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, about north of Stuttgart city centre, near the river Neckar. It is the largest and primary city of the Ludwigsburg urban district with about 87,000 inhabitants...
In addition to Markgröningen itself, the town now includes the following formerly independent settlements:
- Talhausen, a hamlet
A hamlet is usually a rural settlement which is too small to be considered a village, though sometimes the word is used for a different sort of community. Historically, when a hamlet became large enough to justify building a church, it was then classified as a village...
on the Glems abandoned in the 17th century and resettled around 1790
- Unterriexingen, a town at the confluence of the Glems and the Enz
The Enz is a left tributary of the Neckar in Baden-Württemberg.It is 112 km long.Its headstreams – the Little Enz and the Big Enz – rise in the northern Black Forest, the latter at Enzklösterle. In Calmbach , the Little Enz and the Big Enz join to form the Enz. The river passes through...
, incorporated into Markgröningen in 1973
- Hardthof and Schönbühlhof, founded as agricultural hamlets in the 18th century on the border with Schwieberdingen
Schwieberdingen is a town of about 10,700 inhabitants located in Southwest Germany. The city founded in 1304 is 10 km away from Ludwigsburg and 14 km away from Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Württemberg....
Markgröningen (or simply “Gröningen,” as some older residents may call it) is first mentioned in 779 in a deed of gift to the Monastery of Fulda, as Gruoninga
was added to the name later to indicate its position in the "march" or border area between Frankish
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...
Swabia is a cultural, historic and linguistic region in southwestern Germany.-Geography:Like many cultural regions of Europe, Swabia's borders are not clearly defined...
Around 1243 the settlement of Markgröningen was raised to the status of town. It was a fief of the Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...
, responsible for guarding two important travel routes. In 1229, the town briefly became a free imperial city
In the Holy Roman Empire, a free imperial city was a city formally ruled by the emperor only — as opposed to the majority of cities in the Empire, which were governed by one of the many princes of the Empire, such as dukes or prince-bishops...
. As a result, it has the Imperial eagle on its arms; the blue bar with gold stars was added in the mid-16th century as a distinguishing mark. However, in 1336, the House of Württemberg
The Württemberg family is a European royal family and a German dynasty from Württemberg. The House has its origins, according to recent research, probably in the vicinity of the Salian dynasty.-History:...
acquired the town and made it a seat of government. Later, during the temporary division of Württemberg between 1441 and 1482, it was a primary seat.
Of considerable importance to Markgröningen, the Spital
(pilgrims' hostelry), a foundation of the Order of the Holy Spirit, was consecrated in 1297. The order began construction of the present Church of the Holy Spirit around 1300. By 1354, the town had a Latin school, by 1429 a bathhouse. These three were hallmarks of superiority in a medieval town.
Markgröningen experienced its greatest flowering in the second half of the 15th century. Numerous buildings that shape the look of the town today originate from that period, such as the “Ratstüble” restaurant - built in 1414 - and the "Crown" hotel - built in 1428. These two buildings stand on either side of the gothic Fachwerk Town Hall (Rathaus
Rathaus is a German word literally translating as “council house”, meaning “city hall” or “town hall”. Many specific buildings are referred to as Rathaus even when spoken about in English.Some important Rathäuser are:* Rathaus Schöneberg...
), established in 1441.
After the Reformation, the possessions of the Order of the Holy Spirit were taken over by the lord of the manor and the Spital has been run by the town since 1552. Collection of harvest produce against future famine in the Fachwerk storehouse, (Fruchtkasten
), continued, and merchants built Renaissance houses.
Like many places in Germany, Markgröningen suffered during the Thirty Years' War
The Thirty Years' War was fought primarily in what is now Germany, and at various points involved most countries in Europe. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history....
; the nearby town of Asperg
Asperg is a town in the district of Ludwigsburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated 15 km north of Stuttgart, and 4 km west of Ludwigsburg. The Hohenasperg fortress is situated in Asperg....
was largely destroyed in a siege. Then in the 18th century the town lost its political importance and much of its outlying possessions to the newly founded city of Ludwigsburg, and went into decline. With no railroad access, little industry developed, although nearby Talhausen had several water-powered facilities. Population pressures led to formation of new settlements and to large-scale emigration to the United States. In 1833–1845, the town walls were demolished, enabling expansion. Only one of the four gates survives today, der Obere Torturm
, "the upper gate-tower," built in 1555. Finally, in 1916, Markgröningen succeeded in obtaining a rail link, but the line was not continued further as desired. Since 1975 there has been no more passenger service.
During the Nazi era, 120 residents of the home for the disabled in Markgröningen were euthanized, and 363 people, mostly Jews, at the labor camp
Arbeitslager is a German language word which means labor camp.The German government under Nazism used forced labor extensively, starting in the 1930s but most especially during World War II....
in Unterriexingen died.
In 2006, the air quality in Markgröningen was rated third worst in Baden-Württemberg; the problem has been greatly alleviated by construction of a bypass
A bypass is a road or highway that avoids or "bypasses" a built-up area, town, or village, to let through traffic flow without interference from local traffic, to reduce congestion in the built-up area, and to improve road safety....
to the east.
The Shepherds' Run
Every year on the last weekend in August, shepherds from all over Baden-Württemberg meet in Markgröningen. Originally held by the Shepherds' Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...
, since the abolition of the guilds in 1828 the festival has been held by the town of Markgröningen. Formerly it took place on St. Bartholomew's Day, August 24, but since 1961 has been held on the last weekend in August.
The Shepherds' Run has a long tradition in Markgröningen. The first written reference to the celebration occurs in 1445 in the records of the Spital. There are many legends regarding its origin, all mentioning the figure of the “faithful shepherd Bartel," in whose honor a Count of Württemberg is said to have established the festival.
In 1723 the Shepherds' Guild, which was based in Markgröningen, was divided into four parts and established regional offices in Heidenheim, Urach, and Wildberg
Wildberg is a town in Calw in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. The asteroid 117506 Wildberg was named in its honour by its discoverer, the Observatorium Wildberg....
. In former times the guild held an obligatory meeting on St. Bartholomew's Day at which it was customary to have hearings, resolve disputes, and release apprentices. The fixed form of the festival today dates to a ducal order of 1651, which granted the right to hold the celebrations.
The festival takes place over a long weekend. On the Friday, spectators can catch a glimpse of the life of a shepherd by watching the sheepherding contest, in which shepherds compete at sheeptending tasks in the Markgröningen fields. The seven stages of the contest consist of the ten most important tasks in the everyday life of the shepherd, and thus make up a microcosm of a sheepherding day.
The actual "shepherds' run," the centerpiece of the festival, takes place on the Saturday. First shepherds' daughters and trained female shepherds, dressed prettily in red, white, and green skirts, then male shepherds, race barefoot over a stubble field 300 paces (240 meters) long. The winners receive a sheep as a prize and are crowned Shepherd Queen and Shepherd King, respectively. Following their coronation, the shepherd dance pays homage to the royal couple.
The race is preceded by a ceremonial mass, a colorful procession to the race field featuring many bands and groups in traditional costumes
Tracht is a traditional national costume in German-speaking countries. Although the word is most often associated with Austrian and Bavarian costumes, many other peoples of Germany have them.-History:...
and also several sheep, and traditional games such as sack races and water-carrying. Following the race, the procession returns to the town square for the dancing. On the Sunday many of the festivities are repeated, including the procession, but this time children from the local schools run the races while adults compete separately at water-carrying and stilt-walking.
Since 1963, the festival has lasted through Monday and ends with a fireworks display. It also includes a market of traditional crafts, a funfair, and a petting zoo.
- Max Mertz, Erich Tomschik, Maria Lenk, Lothar Buck. Markgröningen: Das Bild der Stadt im Wandel der Zeit. Verlag des Arbeitskreises Geschichtsforschung Heimat- und Denkmalpflege Markgröningen, 1969. OCLC 26502074
- Hermann Römer. Markgröningen im Rahmen der Landesgeschichte. Volume 1 Urgeschichte und Mittelalter. Volume 2 1550-1750. Markgröningen: Renczes, 1933, 1930. OCLC 312370398, 312370852
- Petra Schad, Martin Frieß. Siebenhundert Jahre Heilig-Geist-Spital Markgröningen. Markgröningen, 1997. ISBN 3929948060
Town of Markgröningen website