A kaleidoscope of juniper-strewn hillsides in summer, blazing with red, yellow and brown leaves in autumn, and blanketed in snow in the winter months, the Naturpark Altmühltal (Altmühl Valley Nature Park) straddles the border between Franconia and Upper Bavaria. Meandering through its little valleys is the Altmühl River, a gentle stream that morphs into the mighty Rhein-Main-Donau-Kanal (Rhine-Main-Danube-Canal) near Beilngries, before emptying into the Danube at Kelheim. It's a region largely undiscovered by international travellers, who make up only 5% of all tourists here. The earliest 'visitors' were the Romans; their empire's northern boundary, the Limes, ran right through today's park. The town of Eichstätt is the park's main gateway for excursions. Razed by the Swedes during the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), it was rebuilt by Italian architects, notably Gabriel de Gabrieli, who imbued it with a Mediterranean flair.