Michelstadt in the Odenwald is a town in the Odenwaldkreis (district) in southern Hesse, Germany between Darmstadt and Heidelberg. In 1962, the town hosted the second Hessentag state festival
Michelstadt is the biggest town in the Odenwaldkreis and borders on the district seat of Erbach.
Michelstadt borders in the north on the municipality of Brombachtal, the town of Bad König and the municipality of Lützelbach, in the east on the town of Klingenberg, the market municipalities of Laudenbach and Kleinheubach, the town of Miltenberg, the market municipality of Weilbach, the town of Amorbach and the market municipality of Kirchzell (all seven in Miltenberg district in Bavaria), in the south on the town of Erbach, and in the west on the municipalities of Mossautal and Reichelsheim.
Michelstadt’s Stadtteile, besides the main town, also called Michelstadt, are Rehbach, Steinbach, Steinbuch, Stockheim, Vielbrunn, Weiten-Gesäß and Würzberg.
Michelstadt is one of the oldest settlements in the inner Odenwald. Its castle grew out of a Frankish baronial estate. This was built into a refuge for the local inhabitants. As a royal estate, Prince Carloman donated it in 741 to Saint Boniface’s pupil Burchard, the first Bishop of Würzburg. This donation was surely meant for Bishop Burchard personally, for theMichelnstat area passed back to the Frankish Crown upon Burchard’s death in 791
In 815, the Michlinstat area was donated once again. In recognition of his great merit as confidant at Charlemagne’s court, Einhard acquired the main town and all land within two leagues (roughly 15 km) from Charlemagne’s son, Louis the Pious, as a freehold. Einhard was also the one who built the Einhardsbasilika. In 819, he bequeathed his Odenwald holdings to Lorsch Abbey and in so doing also precisely defined the boundaries of the Mark Michelstadt. Upon Einhard’s death on 14 March 840, the monastery came into its inheritance.
In the 17th century, the first houses outside the town wall were built. In 1773, a new town gate was built, called the Neutor (“New Gate”). In the 19th century, the gate towers were all torn down one after the other.
In 1806, Michelstadt, along with the County of Erbach, passed to the Grand Duchy of Hesse.
The building of the railway line and its completion through to Darmstadt in 1870 and then Eberbach in 1881 brought Michelstadt a sharp economic upswing. Out of what was once a little town of gentlemen farmers with all its craftsmen and tradesmen grew a sizeable community with important industrial operations on the foundation of the centuries-old ironworking. A new economic era began. From the clothweavers’ and dyers’ guild grew a cloth factory; from foundries grew machine factories. Ivory carving was a starting point for businesses in the souvenir industry and plastics processing.
In 2007, a decision to merge the town with the neighbouring town of Erbach was thwarted by a civic vote