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The Siebengebirge Nature Park: remarkable diversity in a volcanic landscape

The appeal of the Siebengebirge hills lies in their 40 volcanic peaks, vast beech forests, vineyards and incomparable views of the Rhine Valley. Their most distinctive landmark is the Drachenfels ruins where, according to the Nibelung saga, Siegfried slew the dragon.

The Siebengebirge Nature Park extends from the Bonn metropolitan area via the towns of Sankt Augustin and Königswinter as far as Bad Honnef. With an area of 11,200 hectares, it is one of the smallest nature parks in Germany, however a unique variety of geological formations, flora and fauna can be found in the park despite its size. The largest continuous beech and oak woodland in the Rhineland, orchards, vineyards, cliffs and rocky outcrops make for truly unparalleled views at the turn of each season.

This diversity, as well as the park's geological highlights and plentiful cultural attractions, resulted in the park being awarded the European Diploma for Protected Areas, which it has held since 1971. Distinctive attractions such as the important sacred abbey complex of Heisterbach, the neo-Gothic castle of Drachenburg and its museum of German natural history, the Siebengebirgsmuseum, the Konrad Adenauer House and the legendary Drachenfels hill are also to be found alongside the natural bounty encountered along the area's themed tours. Today the world's oldest cog railway takes visitors to the café at the Drachenfels ruins, and

other attractions include the magnificent banks of the River Rhine and the peaks of the Oelberg or Petersberg hills. This is one of Germany's oldest conservation areas and was also one of the first nature parks to be opened in North Rhine-Westphalia and the first official, non-national park to be designated a "wilderness area". These factors, along with the area's wide range of attractions, are all excellent reasons pay a visit.

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