The imposing Betteleiche

This bizarrely shaped tree is shrouded in legend and testifies to the Hainich's changeful history.

The Betteleiche ("begging oak") is on the national park's landmarks. From 1442 to 1525, an outpost of Eisenach's St. Catherine's Monastery existed in nearby Ihlefeld. Mendicants lived here who took care of those travelling on the Hainich's ridgeways. Travellers and local people used the oak tree to place alms for the monks as well as slips of paper bearing the names of those for whom they requested a prayer. The monks carved a hollow into the trunk in order to protect the alms from the weather. Over the centuries, the weather made it bigger, separated the trunk and gave the oak its current, imposing look.

In addtion to the Betteleichenweg there are also other walking paths that lead to this Hainich landmark: the Bummelkuppenweg from Harsberg and the Rennstieg.