Perspective 9: the Green Belt – nature’s rich bounty along the former border.

Did you know you can discover rare orchids and endangered animal species along the Green Belt that runs through the heart of reunified Germany? Where the Iron Curtain was still in place some 25 years ago, separating two social systems, a vision has now become a verdant reality: this 1,400 km habitat stretching along the former border is home to more than 5,200 species of flora and fauna, some of which were thought to be extinct. It is an ideal place for long bike rides and walks.

The border is a thing of the past. It is now a unique natural landscape for us to enjoy. The Green Belt provides the ideal setting for extended tours retracing Germany ’s history – whether on foot, by bike or on horseback.

The story of the Green Belt

Covering a total area of 8,000 km², this nature conservation project (the largest in Germany) was launched with great resolve immediately after reunification. Today, it provides an unbroken band of unspoilt nature from Travemünde on the Baltic coast to the town of Hof in Bavaria.

The Green Belt is everywhere

Every one of the regions along the Green Belt will whet your appetite for more – not least because of their traditional specialities and local charm. Choose your favourite region from which to explore the Green Belt: cycling tours in the Harz foothills, trail riding in the Wendland or a stop in Hof, where traditional Franconian inns serve regional fare.

Discoveries left, right and centre

There is so much to see and do on either side of the Green Belt, from scenic sections such as the Elbe riverbank meadows or visitor highlights such as the toy-making town of Sonneberg or the fairy grottoes at Saalfeld.

Waving now permitted!

It is hard to believe that right up until 1989 even the tiniest villages were split in two by the border between East and West Germany. For instance, a 3.4-metre-high wall cut straight through the middle of the village of Mödlareuth, population 50. The residents weren’t even allowed to wave across this border wall.

A living monument

Today, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mother Nature is reclaiming the precious habitats that ran along the former border. However, you can still walk or cycle to many relics from the days before reunification, including watchtowers and memorial sites. Borders that once divided people have given way to nature that brings them together.

Tip

Bit by bit, the Green Belt is becoming a long-distance cycle route, and large stretches are already open to cyclists.

Discover Destination Germany with our interactive map

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