Our hike begins at Malans train station. Above the village is Bothmar Castle, in an old garden laid out in the French style. Its oldest elements go back to the 16th century. It is the birthplace of the poet Johann Gaudenz von Salis-Seewis. The picturesque centre of the village contains the three “Planta” houses: the architect Anbrosius Planta von Wildenstein built them in the 17th century.
From the train station we take the road into the village, then we turn left, and a few steps later, also on the left, we take the path through the vineyards. We can also stay on the Jenins road and skirt the imposing Beech Wood. At the start there are options for taking a detour by foot-paths, but not the whole way.
In Jenins, we keep along the lower edge of the village. Just after the church you will see a signpost indicating a path to Rofels. If you are not in a hurry, you will enjoy spending a half-hour in Jenins. It has a lovely streetscape. No bad architecture here! The patrician houses – the Upper and Lower Planta house and the Salis house – seem to fit right into their environment.
At first, then, we follow the road in the direction of Maienfeld, but soon turn right onto a well-maintained path in the direction of Unterrofels (Lower Rofels). It leads through a fertile agricultural area with healthy stands of trees. We cross the Teilerrüfi, which comes from the Glegghorn and cascades down the Falknis massif. Already we get an enchanting view of the little vineyards and groups of houses that make up Ober- and Unter-Rofels, Rofels Upper and Lower.
Johanna Spyri's Heidi lives and breathes here to this very day. The old Walser town hall in Oberrofels is hard to overlook.A signpost now leads us on to the “Heidihof” Inn out in the country. If even you decide not to make a stop there, the trip is worth it for the views of the fertile Rhine Valley.
Now we take the road to Maienfeld, and encounter there a mixture of historic buildings, prosperous country houses and characteristic vintners' homesteads. In Maienfeld, most of the Sprecher von Bernegg house, the oldest part of Salenegg Castle, and the Marschall house are architecture dating from the 17th century.
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Johanna Spyri and Heidi-Land: The writer Johanna Spyri was born in Hirzel in the Bernese Alps in 1827, and she died in Zurich in 1901. She always enjoyed staying with her friend Anna von Salis-Hösli in Jenins. On walks and extended hikes in the area between Jenins and Maienfeld, up the Ochsenberg mountain and even onto the heights above it, the two women became familiar with this landscape and grew to love it. In the two connected Heidi stories, the writer imparts a new, independent reality to her favourite landscape and its inhabitants.
Her basic idea is to show people living the natural and responsible way in an Alpine valley. The landscape itself has healing powers. However, there is no point in speculating about particular locations in the book. Johanna Spyri created a whole new world. But lovers of the still-popular novels can somehow feel at home between the Ochsenberg and the villages of Maienfeld and Jenins. “Heidi's village” above Maienfeld and the Heidi Museum in Oberrofels are worth a visit.
Malans – Jenins – Rofels – “Heidihof” Inn – Maienfeld
Getting there: By train (RhB) to Malans.
Getting back: By PostBus or train (SBB) from Maienfeld.
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike
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