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  • Hohenwarte reservoir in Thuringia
    Hohenwarte reservoir in Thuringia Photo: marcohof81, pixabay.com

Thuringia

Thuringia's cities combine charm and history! In summer, they are perfect places to sit outside, enjoy open-air culture and art. Nature is never far away: The Thuringian Forest, the Hainich National Park, the Eichsfeld or the Rhön Mountains invite you to walk and bike. A special tip in the region is the 'Green Belt'. Along the border that once separated East from West, places steeped in history and landscapes full of species-rich nature await.
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Destinations in Thuringia


Regions

Attractions in Thuringia



History

The Green Belt - A natural monument steeped in history in Thuringia. It is the largest biotope network in Germany and crosses the nature park Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal in the northwest of Thuringia and the Thuringian Forest and the Thuringian Slate Mountains in the south. Once the border separating Germany's east from its west, today the so-called Green Belt connects idyllic landscapes and species-rich nature reserves with historical places full of memories.
Natur ist grenzenlos - Das Grüne Band Thüringen
Video: Thüringen entdecken

Little Berlin - Neighbors to strangers

Mödlareuth is a tranquil village located on the border between Thuringia and Bavaria. In 1949, a border fence was erected here as a result of the division of Germany into East and West. The Tannbach, which flows through the middle of the village, becomes an insurmountable border for the inhabitants. Former neighbors become strangers.

In 1966, the border fence gave way to a 700-meter-long and three-and-a-half-meter-high concrete wall. Like Berlin, the small town was divided, earning it the name 'Little Berlin'. Even today, the extent of German division can still be felt here.

However, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the residents opposed the unified assignment of the village to a federal state. And so, the two parts of the village are still assigned to the respective federal states. Of course, people still live, laugh and celebrate together, without a wall.

Inner-German border at the Tannbach

Beware of the enemy

Point Alpha: Observation Tower US Camp and GDR Watchtower Photo: Point Alpha Stiftung

If a third world war had occurred, the Rhön and the Fulda Gap would probably have been the most likely attack points between East and West. Even today, meter-high watchtowers and impressive fortifications bear witness to the tense situation along the border fence.

At no other place along the inner-German border did the East and West soldiers come closer to each other than at the so-called Point Alpha. It was one of the most important observation posts of the US-Americans.

Those who want to trace German history events should go on the 'Path of Hope'. The art project commemorates the resistance against the communist dictatorship and lets its visitors walk on the border of history.

Silent witnesses

At the Grenzbahnhof museum Probstzella, artists revived German history in their works.

At the place where once about 20 million train passengers were controlled by the border police and customs, local artists now exhibit their paintings, photos and objects. All the works have one thing in common: the Green Belt, which connects the region's nature and history. The experiences and impressions of the citizens who lived in the German-German division area can also be experienced in the exhibited writings.


Nature

Thuringian Slate Mountains/Ober Saale Nature Park

Photo: Naturpark Thüringer Schiefergebirge/Obere Saale

Low mountain landscape with a lot of history - Deeply cut valleys, densely forested slopes, and panoramic plateaus form the Thuringian Slate Mountains/Upper Saale Nature Park landscape.#

The mountains in the south of the nature park reach almost 800 meters and are very popular with hikers and skiers. The rocky slopes are crisscrossed by numerous ponds, rivers and lakes, making the nature park in southern Thuringia the largest reservoir region in Germany.

Historic boundary stones along the Rennsteig and Saale rivers still bear witness to the territorial fragmentation that lasted into the 19th century. In turn, border towers and wall remains to remind of the overcome German division of the 20th century.

Today, the region is part of the 'Green Belt' biotope network and is home to rare animal and plant species.

South Harz Nature Park

With numerous hiking trails and mountain bike routes, the southern Harz is the ideal destination for all explorers and connoisseurs. A particular highlight in the nature park is the adventurous karst landscape with white rock formations, dense beech forests, medieval castle ruins and hidden caves. Well-signposted hiking trails lead directly into the unique cultural landscape.

You can hike through impressive natural landscapes and German history on the Harz Border Trail on the Green Belt. The almost one hundred kilometers long-distance hiking trail connects nature, culture, and history of the Harz uniquely. Through the Ecker valley, the former border river, past the historic Dreiländerstein, the trail leads to the Brocken. Information boards along the way tell about biotopes worthy of protection and the historical sites.

Eichsfeld - Werra Valley

Ideal for an active vacation is the Werra Valley. During leisurely Werra water hiking on the former border river to Vacha, canoeists and visitors pass the historic Werra Bridge Vacha. The 225-meter-long stone arch bridge connected the states of Thuringia and Hesse and was closed at the German division time. It was not until 1989 that the bridge could be walked again when the border was opened and called the 'Bridge of Unity'.

If you like to walk, you can take the discovery tour P6 Heldrastein from Wanfried-Heldra across the Werra to the observation tower on the Heldrastein. The Hüneburg with border information and the 'Tower of Unity' are reminders of the former inner-German border.

Further reminders of the division of Germany await you on the premium hiking trail P16. Passing the Green Belt, the almost 14-kilometer-long hike leads through the Hesse-Thuringia border region. It demands a lot from its hikers with steep, rocky climbs. Past blooming orchids and fragrant wild herbs, the trail leads through dense yew forests. You will be rewarded for your efforts with a magnificent view and the old walls of the Altenstein castle ruins.

Back in Asbach-Sickenberg, a visit to the Schifflersgrund border museum is worthwhile. With original border control huts, the BT-9 observation tower and about 1,000 meters of the border fence with control strips, the museum provides exciting insights into the time before reunification.

Heldburg lowlands

The Rodach Valley and the Heldburger Unterland are marked by the memories of the former border situation between East and West Germany. The Green Belt runs over the hills of the Franconian Keuperland through mixed forests rich in species. Besides the hilltops of former volcanoes, the ruins of Straufhain Castle and Heldburg Fortress rise up here.

As a result of the Cold War, the Russian occupation began in 1952 to systematically resettle the inhabitants of the border area and raze the villages to the ground. What remains is 'Schlechsarter Schweiz' with memorial plaques and stones that guide visitors on the disappeared villages' trail.

Veste Heldburg in Heldburger Unterland Photo: Burgen und Schlösser, Stiftung Thüringer Schlösser und Gärten

Worth a visit

Cycling through history

Between 1945 and 1989, the two states of Thuringia and Hesse were separated by the inner-German border. Today, the Ulster Valley Cycle Path runs along the former border area through the Rhön Mountains. It offers insights into German history as well as a picturesque natural landscape.

At no other point in Germany did the refuge of the former East extend as far into the West as here. During the Cold War, the Rhön was therefore considered the most dangerous place in the world. Today it is part of the global UNESCO biosphere reserve and a symbol of German unity.

If you want to learn more, use the audio points and information boards at routes 4 and 5. Simply scan the QR code with your smartphone, open the audio file, and you'll find yourself acoustically on the journey from the Middle Ages to the present day.

The Green Belt

The Green Belt is a unique natural area full of multifaceted plants and rare animal species and the link between the once separated east and west of Germany.

Whether a short hiking trip over the weekend or a relaxing trip lasting several days - the tangible bond of the region and the diverse nature make a stay in Thuringia an exceptional experience.

When biking, paddling or running, active vacationers can really let off steam. On the other hand, Pleasure vacationers can find peace and quiet in the endless forests and deep lakes. No other place combines history and nature so impressively.

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