Where barbed wire fences, spotlights, and watchtowers once made crossing the former inner-German border almost impossible, today you can find wonderful hiking regions. The “German Greenbelt” winds its way across pastures, meadows, hills and through impenetrable forests, sometimes barely 50 meters wide, sometimes proudly 200 meters wide. The most impressive is the border in the Harz Mountains and along the mountainous border from Thuringia to Hesse and Bavaria. For decades, the GDR border troops removed all bushes and trees along the border strip and so a unique flora and fauna settled here.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, BUND für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V. (BUND) — or Friends of the Earth Germany — set itself the task of protecting these habitats, which are important for rare animals and plants. They also preserved former border relics — the perfect combination of nature conservation and remembrance culture. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain and the founding of the Greenbelt, we have selected 14 hikes for you to explore the different landscapes between the Baltic Sea and the Thuringian Forest.
Our routes will take you to the Werra mountain region, through the Thuringian Forest, into the picturesque Saale Valley, the enchanted Harz Mountains and into the beautiful Altmark. A special highlight is the hike to the Brocken — after all, under the leadership of the SED regime, the mountain was a military restricted area and thus absolutely inaccessible for citizens of the GDR as well as the FRG. Today, on the highest mountain in Northern Germany, people from the West and East can enjoy the unique nature and the spectacular view, together.
“30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall — 30th Anniversary of the Green Belt”: bund.net/30jahre-gb
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This leisurely tour captivates with its sensational views into the distance, but also with its glimpses into a gloomy past. In addition to hills that reveal the foothills of the Alps when the weather is good, the hike goes past looped villages that no longer exist. You will encounter the diverse nature and impressive history at every turn, accompanied by information boards and memorial stones. The subsequent visit to the history park in Bärnau is highly recommended.
This circular route takes you through the Elbe-Aland lowlands in the UNESCO Elbe River Landscape Biosphere Reserve. We recommend that you do this tour together with the Auentour app. With it you get exciting insights into the different habitats of the floodplain landscape by means of audio recordings, photos, maps and videos. You will also experience the special cultural history of this region and can solve small puzzles and tasks. You can find the Auentour app here: bund.net/fluesse-gewaesser/lebendige-elbauen/auentour-app
Starting at the moated Mitwitz castle, this round tour takes you into a beautiful heather and meadow landscape. You cross the Föritzau landscape protection area, a floodplain with bordering wetlands, silted ponds and former gravel pits. Here you can keep an eye out for dragonflies. Then we continue to the Liebau village center, a memorial for a settlement that was demolished in 1975 on behalf of the SED regime.