The FONTANE.RAD route – ride in the footsteps of writer Theodor Fontane
TMB-Fotoarchiv Steffen Lehmann
The FONTANE.RAD route takes you to majestic castles, regal country estates, pretty historic towns, and typical Markish villages, through beautiful landscapes, and along rivers and lakes. This 300-kilometre (186-mile) cycling route is a wonderful adventure on two wheels. The route takes you on a journey through the magnificent Havelland and Ruppiner Seenland in Brandenburg, revealing the region’s diverse history. You travel back to the 19th century and follow in the footsteps of writer Theodor Fontane who was born in the town of Neuruppin in 1819 who was known for his exploration of the region. This Collection takes you to the places and landscapes in Fontane’s homeland which inspired his most well-known work, ‘Ramblings through Brandenburg’. Neuruppin, Fontane's birthplace and the starting point of his walks, lies at the centre of this route.
In addition to the main route of the FONTANE.RAD, you find two alternative routes in this Collection, as well as seven additional circular day Tours starting from one of the stage destinations. This gives you plenty of options. You can pick out individual stages and spend one weekend in Fontane’s homeland or plan a long getaway. You can easily spend a whole week exploring the main route on two wheels. You can plan overnight stays in the stage destinations.
The FONTANE.RAD route is both beautiful and practical. The stage towns mostly have train stations so you can reach Berlin in no time. You can also find stations en route so you can shorten your trip if need be. This makes it easy to arrive and depart from your adventure and also allows you to stay flexible in case of a change of plan. The same goes for food and accommodation en route. There are plenty of places to stay and refreshment stops, so you don’t have to squeeze lots of supplies into your panniers.
As you ride, you can enjoy the wonderful nature and also learn more about Theodor Fontane and his homeland. You can read up on his life at the information boards en route, which tells you more about his stories of Mark Brandenburg. When you return home, you’ll be able to say, like the great master himself, "I have travelled the Mark and found it richer than I dared to hope for".
The first stage of the FONTANE.RAD route is the ideal start for your journey of discovery in the footsteps of the great writer. The main characters in the first act are four castles and a love story that Fontane was particularly fond of. Between the cultural highlights of the tour, you can enjoy the glistening Huwenowsee in Meseberg and the extensive mixed forests around Liebenberg with its ancient trees and rolling hills, wide views and endless tranquility.You start in Oranienburg and set off on this more than 50 kilometers long first stage. Right at the beginning you will be enthusiastic about a love story: Electress Luise Henriette, born Princess of Orange, was overwhelmed by the fertile lowlands - then the Elector gave her the castle as a present. Luise called it Oranienburg.In the further course of the route you will pass other castles described by Fontane: Liebenberg Castle with its manor, Hoppenrade Castle with park and chapel and finally Meseberg Castle - the guest house of the federal government. Close by, the Huwenowsee invites you to take a breather or to go around it. At the end of the stage, you can end the day with a tour of the medieval old town of Gransee.
The second stage of the FONTANE.RAD tour takes you through mixed forests and the wonderful lake landscape of the Stechlin nature reserve, part of the Stechlin-Ruppiner Land nature park. The highlight of the day is Gut Zernikow, where an imaginative gentleman once ran a very special animal farm and where you can still discover a lot today.Gransee is the starting point of your second stage on the FONTANE.RAD route to Rheinsberg. After you have left the cozy town, you first follow a beautiful, dead straight railway line bike path that takes you to the first potential stop on the tour: Gut Zernikow. Its former owner Michael Gabriel Fredersdorf already fascinated Theodor Fontane because he raised silkworms. Today a mulberry avenue and a silkworm exhibition on the estate are evidence of these activities. But otherwise the pretty estate is also worth a stop. If you're hungry, you can fortify yourself in the Bric à Brac, a creperie in the former sheepfold.If you are a Fontane fan, you shouldn't just drive past Neuglobsow, but take a short detour to Lake Stechlin. The lake is the namesake of the Fontane novel "The Stechlin". A little later, you can take the next rest: the tranquil village of Menz is home to the NaturParkHaus Stechlin in the old forest ranger's office. It provides information about the Stechlin-Ruppiner Land nature reserve. Your journey takes you right through this wonderful lake landscape. In Rheinsberg, at the end of the stage, the castle of the same name invites you to take a walk through the park on the banks of the lake.
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The second stage of the FONTANE.RAD route takes you to the state-approved resort of Rheinsberg, which - if you like - is ideal for a longer stay. So that you can actively organize your time here, we have put together this nice extra round with Rheinsberg as a starting point.The area around Rheinsberg is really beautiful and invites you to take an extended day tour: Along many lakes, you go through old parks and forests around Rheinsberg to the romantic manor house Binenwalde and through picturesque small towns with medieval pavement.The Boltenmühle, located directly on the Tornowsee, is particularly worth seeing. Theodor Fontane already described the mill, which today houses a café and a restaurant. It's not far until your next break: on the shores of the Zermützelsee, the more than 100-year-old forest tavern with a large beer garden invites you to relax in peace. Fontane was also happy to be a guest in the next town: the wooden bell tower in the middle of the village of Molchow cast a spell over him back then. From here, the round tour continues on the main route of the FONTANE.RAD route, which takes you back to Rheinsberg.
With this route we show you another beautiful round trip from Rheinsberg. It is perfect for you if - apart from the main route - you want to discover a few unknown beauties of the region. The small town of Lindow (Mark) is such a jewel, as is Köpernitz: Hardly any other place has been so honored in literary terms as this small district of Ziesar.From Rheinsberg you start south and drive for a while through a wonderfully green forest area. Here you are traveling without any cars and can fully enjoy the tranquility of nature. You leave the Gudelacksee on the right and stop in the town of Lindow (Mark) at the well-known monastery. It was the model for the "Wutz Monastery" in Fontane's novel "Der Stechlin". A statue in the lake recalls the tragic love story that is said to have happened between the beautiful nun and the poor farm boy.The route takes you back via quiet side streets to Köpernitz, where the urbane Countess La Roche-Aymon resided in Fontane's time. Today the property is used as a public meeting point and cultural center. From here you cycle back to the starting point in Rheinsberg. Alternatively, you can start the tour from Lindow.
The third stage of the FONTANE.RAD route is a very special one: Today's stage destination Neuruppin is the district town of the Ostprignitz-Ruppin district - but above all it is the birthplace of Theodor Fontane, in whose footsteps you are on the way. After about 26 kilometers on your bike, you can get up close and personal with the great writer at the stage destination.But first you step on the pedals again lively, while old mixed forests and arable fields gently pass you by. A first stop is in Zippelsförde, a village with a large fish farm and fishing ponds - if you are hungry: Here you can get delicious fish sandwiches. Fontane paid a lot of attention to the next potential stop on the bike tour in Molchow - he enjoyed the “light and airy” atmosphere of the settlement, with a single bell tower in the middle.At the end of this short stage, Fontane's birthplace is already waiting for you: Neuruppin. Shortly before the old town is one of the oldest seaside bathing establishments in Germany, the Neuruppin seaside resort. In cold weather, the Fontane-Therme warms with its sauna built into the lake. The city offers numerous insights into the life and work of Theodor Fontane, such as the three-and-a-half kilometer Fontane city tour, which starts right at the Rheinsberger Tor.
If you want to discover Brandenburg with Fontane's eyes in a short time, then you should do this day tour around the Ruppiner See. With Neuruppin as the starting point, it is ideally suited as an additional tour following the third stage of the FONTANE.RAD route.The first stop after Neuruppin is Wustrau-Altfriesack, a small part of the municipality of Fehrbellin, which is located directly on the Ruppin Canal. The first chapter in Fontane's "Walks through the Mark Brandenburg" is dedicated to him. Wustrau impressed the writer with its village beauty, which will also cast a spell on you.There are even more Fontane places shaking hands along the route: The detour to Radensleben has something special to offer. Behind the church there is a "Campo Santo", a cemetery complex based on the Italian model. At the next stop in Karwe, the von dem Knesebeck family's old park will be rebuilt based on the old model and the Gnewikow district of Neuruppin will impress you with its estate. In Wuthenow you can experience village charm, as well as on the detour to Wulkow.
This tour is a nice alternative for starting the FONTANE.RAD route and can replace the first three stages (Oranienburg, Gransee and Rheinsberg). If you don't have that much time and still want to experience a great discovery tour in the footsteps of Theodor Fontane, this variant is just right for you - especially since there is an excellent train connection from Berlin to the start of the tour in Neustadt.The alternative stage starts directly in Neustadt (Dosse) and connects to the main route in Neuruppin. It starts with a highlight: the stud in Neustadt had a unique impact on the entire region even in Fontane's time. It has been extensively renovated in recent years, so that the listed buildings and facilities are in excellent condition today. So it is worthwhile if you plan some time here.After a few kilometers you will reach Neustadt's “twin” - that's what Fontane called the small town of Wusterhausen / Dosse, where you should take a look at the beautiful town church of St. Peter and Paul. Then the bike tour takes you via Brunn to Trieplatz, whose manor Fontane described in more detail and which is still standing today. In Ganzer, the Rohrsche Herrenhaus invites you to take a break with art workshops and Fontane walks. We continue via Gottberg with its impressive stone church and Kränzlin, which Fontane visited many times because of his friendship with the Scherz family. The tour ends in Neuruppin - Theodor Fontane's birthplace.
If you want to take a closer look at Theodor Fontane's birthplace Neuruppin and its surroundings, this day tour is ideal. It whisks you away to the area south of Neuruppin, follows the shore of the Ruppiner See for a while and then continues along meadows and fields. Fontane once particularly liked it here and so he dedicated the first chapter of his “Hikes through the Mark Brandenburg” to Wustrau, the starting point of this tour.The tour starts in Wustrau, more precisely at the Wustrau-Radensleben train station, which is about three kilometers away in a lonely forest. Despite the idyllic location, this train station is easy to reach - both from Neuruppin (the journey only takes a few minutes) and from Berlin. So you can arrive relaxed and look forward to a nice tour.The route first leads you along the Ruppiner See and then runs a short distance on the FONTANE.RAD main route towards Potsdam. From Buskow the tour branches off via Stöffin to Protzen, which Fontane described as a “prosperous lynx and peat village”. "Luch" is the name for a type of moorland, especially in Brandenburg - and an idyllic bike path leads you right through there.In the further course you drive through romantic villages such as Fehrbellin and Hakenberg, but also past former theaters of war that make you contemplative: The Victory Column in Hakenberg invites you to take a quiet break. For a great experience of nature, you should plan a detour via Linum: Not only when the migratory birds gather in late summer, the stork village is very busy. The place used to be on a much used pilgrimage route from Berlin to Bad Wilsnack. From here you cycle back to Wustrau.
This tour is ideal as an extension or as an additional day tour if you join the FONTANE.RAD route via variant 1. On the rather short round you get to know the area around Wusterhausen / Dosse from a completely different perspective. Fontane called it "dreary" back then - today you would rather call it quiet and idyllic, which awaits you on the journey between small forests and fields. Perfect for slowing down and getting a taste of the country air.The start of the round is in Wusterhausen / Dosse and is only a few kilometers from the center of Neustadt. If you don't want to drive here yourself, the regional train will take you there in just four minutes. You can use the saved time for a tour through the tranquil old town of Wusterhausen.But now it starts and you set course for Brunn. There is a tombstone in front of the church that Fontane described in his hikes - a nice opportunity for a short break. We continue: You cycle through small towns and past magnificent manor houses that are now in a deep sleep. Few of them are lucky enough to be awakened to new life by their new owners.The last stop is the city of Kyritz with the nickname “an der Knatter”, which the place got because of the many rattling water mills. Here you can think about whether you should make a short, highly recommended detour to the Untersee. There a small ferry takes you to the tiny sub-sea island - a real idyll with high recreational value!
The fourth stage on the FONTANE.RAD route is characterized by the wonderful lynx landscape south of Neuruppin. Look forward to a short, quiet ride to Paulinenaue, which leads past small canals and through lush meadows.You leave Fontane's birthplace Neuruppin along the Ruppiner See. You follow the bank for a while until you turn off to Fehrbellin shortly before Wustrau: From now on, the idyllic luch landscape gives this tour its very own character.Originally a wide swampy land spread out here, in which a whole army sank long before Fontane's time: in 1675 the Swedes lost the battle of Fehrbellin against the Brandenburg horsemen, although they were numerically inferior to the Swedes. Friedrich Wilhelm I later had the area drained and peat mining gained in importance. The route to Paulinenaue leads through the Havelländische Luch and testifies to this interesting history. Incidentally, the damp meadows provide a habitat for numerous marsh birds. If you take the time, with a little luck you can watch them - as Fontane did back then.By the way, from the train station in Paulinenaue there is a fast connection to Berlin - so the place is also quite suitable as an entry or exit to the FONTANE.RAD route. If you want to stay overnight on site, the possibilities are manageable. The youth center Paulinenaue offers rustic accommodation directly in the village: jugendhaus-paulinenaue.com.
Fontane would never have believed that a racing pig could defeat a racehorse. In Senzke he learned about this story and the impressively sophisticated, eccentric country life of the Bredows. You probably won't get to see running pigs on this tour. Nevertheless, on the almost 40-kilometer day tour, you will retrace the footsteps of Theodor Fontane and make many exciting discoveries.You can easily get to the starting point Senzke from Paulinenaue. The place is on the main route of the FONTANE.RAD route, so this tour is ideal as an extra tour.Immediately after the start you will pass the said pork estate. Fontane described the squire von Senzke as a “dashing and burlesque figure at the same time” and was fascinated by a very special, slightly bizarre story: the squire let his Chinese pig compete against the neighbor's horse - and it won!In the further course you will come across some exciting contemporary witnesses, for example the "Sweden Tower" in Wagenitz or the baroque castle in Kleßen, whose garden café invites you to take a break. In Friesack you can go back to Paulinenaue or further to Berlin from the train station, which is around three kilometers outside, or you can return on your bike via Haage.
This tour tastes like Havelland all round - you drive through meadows, fields, pine forests and past the manors and castles with far-reaching cultural significance that Fontane admires, such as Nennhausen Castle. If you are in the mood for some industrial culture, you can alternatively end the tour in Rathenow, where a center of the optical industry is located.After starting in Paulinenaue, you will soon reach Senzke, a small place that has a bizarre history. Even Fontane was amazed when he heard from the squire von Senzke, who - as part of a bet - let his Chinese pig compete against the neighbor's horse - and won it! Fontane described the landowner as "sharp, dashing, and burlesque at the same time". The manor house and park are still partially open to the public today - but unfortunately there is no longer a racing pig.You cycle through a landscape criss-crossed with canals to Stechow. Here you can treat yourself to a cooling off on hot days in the nearby Ferchesaer See. If you want to shorten the tour a bit or just want a change, you can choose the detour to Rathenow from Stechow and take a look at the regional center of the optical industry. Alternatively, you can get on the train there.The main route itself continues from Stechow to Nennhausen. Fontane carefully observed the castle of the same name with its residents Caroline von Briest and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué. References can be seen in his fictional character “Effi Briest”. Nennhausen Castle is a well-known example of the rich cultural life in the Mark Brandenburg at that time.
"Herr von Ribbeck auf Ribbeck im Havelland ..." - with this line begins the well-known poem by Theodor Fontane, which made the small village with its castle in Havelland famous throughout the country. This tour not only takes you to Ribbeck, but also through the middle of the beautiful Westhavelland Nature Park. You can get on and off at the train stations in Rathenow, Nennhausen, Nauen or Brieselang, so that you can adapt the rather long tour to your liking.This sixth stage of the FONTANE.RAD bike tour starts at the Havelland musenhof Schloss Nennhausen or, alternatively, in the city of Rathenow, the center of the optical industry. On your drive through the Westhavelland Nature Park you should also take a look up, because you may well make an impressive observation: One of the heaviest birds in the world, the rare great bustard, feels very at home in this area.In Groß Behnitz you can plan a comfortable break. From the terrace of the café in the Stober estate, there is a magnificent view over the Groß Behnitzer See, which is part of a historic landscape park. Then you continue on the bike tour to Ribbeck - you can already practice a little so that you have it in Ribbeck: The poem of Mr. von Ribbeck on Ribbeck in the Havelland is after all one of the most cited German-language poems.In Ribbeck Castle there is a restaurant and a museum; the village green invites you to take a walk. Then you cycle on to Nauen, where the historic old town invites you to take a short rest. It is also possible to get off the tour at Nauen station here. If you continue cycling, you can now end the tour comfortably with a detour to Fontane-Ort Bredow, until you finally reach the stage destination Brieselang.
The seventh stage of the FONTANE.RAD route is fresh and sparkling. The Havel Canal is responsible for this, but above all the Havel itself. From Paretz you follow the river, which in this area is repeatedly dammed up to form larger lakes and which gives the water-rich landscape its very special character.The route itself is particularly suitable for cycling today - the Havelland shows its most beautiful side here. Highlights are Paretz Castle and the famous flower city Werder with its old town, which you can take a look at at the end of the route.On this seventh stage, it is worthwhile to look to the left and right from time to time: numerous Fontane locations invite you to take small detours. Fontane liked the nature around Brieselang and Finkenkrug with its extensive forest areas. The tour meanders along the Havel Canal in the direction of Ketzin / Havel, first to Falkenrehde and then with a detour via Etzin to Paretz. There you can immerse yourself in bygone times in the listed, restored castle complex in the well-preserved historic town center.A little highlight awaits you at the end of the tour: From Paretz you continue to Ketzin / Havel and finally take the ferry to the flower town of Werder (Havel) with its beautifully situated old town island, which invites you to spend the day to end relaxed.
If Fontane were to set off today, he would love this tour: It is not only beautiful in terms of scenery, but also changeful in terms of cultural history. You take a journey of contrasts through different worlds back to the Middle Ages. Before you ride the last stage of the FONTANE.RAD route, you can extend your adventure in the footsteps of the writer with this extra tour.The tour begins in Werder (Havel) and takes you away from the main route in a westerly direction. Past the Lehnin Monastery and along the Götzer Mountains and the Middle Havel you finally reach the beautiful city of Brandenburg an der Havel.Before you really start pedaling, it is worth taking a tour through Werder (Havel), which is not only known nationwide for its tree blossom festival, at any time of the year. If you fancy a little detour, it is worth incorporating Glindow into the tour. In addition to the brickwork museum, you will be impressed by the Glindow Alps - deep gorges created by clay mining. In Geltow, Fontane was enthusiastic about the contrast between new and old and at the next stop, Petzow Castle characterizes the scenery of Moorish fort and English Tudor styles.The tour continues to Lehnin Monastery with its impressive medieval monastery walls. The landscape around the Götzer Mountains and along the Havel is characterized by tall pine forests and is pure enjoyment. There is a train station in Götz, so you can take the train to Brandenburg from here if you have enough. The tour ends there, regardless of whether you arrive here by train or by bike. In the historic old town of Brandenburg with its mighty cathedral you can end the day relaxed.
Water, water, water: water awaits you along the route of this tour. The picturesque Havel and its spacious lakes create a sea breeze. Our stations take you to one of Fontane's best friends - and while you're already there, you can take a break from everyday life on the newly created tour around Plaue Castle.This day tour starts in Brandenburg an der Havel - the cradle of the Mark Brandenburg with its almost 1,000 years of dazzling city history. It is perfect for you to cycle after "variant 2" of the FONTANE.RAD route. A highlight of the tour is the town of Plaue with its castle, which Fontane once liked to visit. It is one of five mansions that Fontane presented in detail in the final volume of "Walks through the Mark Brandenburg" and called it "a real castle". On the newly created tour through the castle and park, you can find out more about the writer and the history of this place. A good friend of Fontane lived very close to the castle: Carl Ferdinand Wiesike resided here in his villa, of which only remains have survived today.In the further course of the tour, Reckahn is definitely worth a detour. Fontane made several contact with the lords of Rochow, who were prominent enlighteners and school reformers and shaped all of Prussia. In the manor house, which is well worth seeing, a museum invites you to a small "educational rest". At the end of the tour, refreshment beckons on one of the beaches in the city of Brandenburg an der Havel or a walk through the wonderful old town and along the water.
The last stage of the FONTANE.RAD route takes you from the blossom city Werder to the state capital Potsdam. On the way you can - like Theodor Fontane once - be inspired by the memorable princely towns along the Havel, including Petzow, Geltow and Caputh.You start from Werder and can look forward to a nice detour right from the start: Petzow Castle is located just a few meters off the route on the picturesque Schwielowsee. The castle, park and church are absolutely worth seeing as an ensemble and the castle is downright eccentric with its mixture of Moorish and English architectural styles.A little later you will have picturesque views of the lake and the island town of Werder (Havel) from the promenade of the village of Geltow, which Fontane raved about during his stay in Baumgartenbrück. We continue by ferry: the Kavalierhaus in Caputh exudes Italian flair. Fontane was particularly enthusiastic about the Caputh pleasure palace. Today it shows itself in old splendor right on the water.At the end of the tour in the Bornstedt district of Potsdam, the Bornstedt Crown Estate near the Sanssouci Palace Park awaits you. The Theodor Fontane Archive is also located in Potsdam, with its most extensive collection of letters from and to the writer. In the beautiful ambience of the capital of the state of Brandenburg, you have all kinds of opportunities to end the day and review your unforgettable tour in the footsteps of Theodor Fontane.